When I worked in Germany while the official work language was English I had co-workers (mostly Danes and Dutch as foreigners had trouble learning their language) who spoke four or five languages fluently and would switch in the middle of a sentence if needed. Two Danes in my office would be speaking to each other and if I walked by they would switch to English if they felt I could possibly get involved. My Greek boss spoke English and German well and could carry on a conversation in rather weak French (She now teaches math at a high school in Andover near Boston). Tim http://news.yahoo.com/class-2012-young-europeans-trapped-lan...Class of 2012: Young Europeans trapped by languageBy By FRANK JORDANS and ALAN CLENDENNING | Associated Press – 1 hr 19 mins ago.MADRID (AP) — Maria Menendez, a 25-year-old caught in Spain's job-destroying economic crisis, would love to work in Germany as a veterinarian. Germany, facing an acute shortage of skilled workers, would love to have her. A perfect match, it seems, but something's holding her back: She doesn't speak German. The European Union was built on a grand vision of free labor markets in which talent could be matched with demand in a seamless and efficient manner, much in the way workers in the U.S. hop across states in search of opportunity. But today only 3 percent of working age EU citizens live in a different EU country, research shows. As young people in crisis-hit southern Europe face unemployment rates hovering at 50 percent, many find themselves caught in a language trap, unable to communicate in the powerhouse economy that needs their skills the most: Germany....In northern Europe, companies are desperately seeking to plug labor gaps caused by low birth rates and the growing need for specialized skills amid still robust economies...."If you want to work as an engineer you'll need a certain specialist vocabulary," he said. "Even colloquial German isn't enough."...Like most Spaniards, she studied English at school and is now focusing on improving her English. Often touted as the continent's 'lingua franca,' English is widely used in multi-national companies but rarely in the public sector or the small-to-medium sized enterprises that employ the bulk of the European labor force. ......when Germany's economy minister recently launched a program to recruit skilled foreign workers, he turned not to southern Europe's vast pool of jobless workers but to India, Indonesia and Vietnam...."Labor mobility is an important adjustment mechanism," said Campanella, currently a Fulbright Scholar at the Harvard Kennedy School. "The language hurdle impairs this safe-valve."Barely related other than the word "language" but I found it interesting. http://news.yahoo.com/drought-may-killed-sumerian-language-1...Drought May Have Killed Sumerian LanguageBy Tia Ghose, LiveScience Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – 21 hrs ago.SAN FRANCISCO — A 200-year-long drought 4,200 years ago may have killed off the ancient Sumerian language, one geologist says. Because no written accounts explicitly mention drought as the reason for the Sumerian demise, the conclusions rely on indirect clues. But several pieces of archaeological and geological evidence tie the gradual decline of the Sumerian civilization to a drought.
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