Eloquent Kashmiris

As the death toll rises, there seems to be very little I can say on the latest natural disaster to wreak havoc on unsuspecting peoples.
One thing that struck me: I was watching a report on the relief effort, and a random Kashmiri farmer was being interviewed. His son had an arm in a sling, and they were describing their predicament. They were talking in English… It never ceases to amaze me the capacity that other nationalities have for bilingualism, when in the UK its a struggle to get students to take a GCSE or a Standard/Higher in another language.
Clearly these people have a different conception of language and nationality to us islanders. Kashmir is a divided region of course, with several ethnicities, affiliations and identities. The requirement to speak more than one dialect is a fact of life.
Next time there is a river bursts its banks and swamps an English flood plain, I wonder how many people will be able to describe their experiences to the foreign news agencies?

3 Replies to “Eloquent Kashmiris”

  1. All the people who are first or maybe second- or even third-generation immigrants? All the transient ex-pats from around our glorious globe? All the refugees? All the people who took a language A-level (ok, maybe not them) or degree?
    Also, I would argue that that farmer probably wasn’t random. I suspect he was picked on the grounds of his linguistic capability. Saves paying an interpreter and then a translator and having to dub over the interview.
    Also, I don’t think a river bursting its banks in Suffolk would necessarily be of that much interest to anyone besides the british news people. Just a thought….

  2. I doubt very much that the transient ex-pats would be lurking in Suffolk at the moment when a catastrophic, world-headline-news flood hits! My point is simply how strange the world is, that anyone in Kashmir can speak a language that originated thousands of miles to their west.

  3. Considering that the British Empire once spanned a quarter of the globe, and considering too that “our” language caught on in the usa (a, it’s large, and b, it’s economically powerful), it’s not really so strange at all. Upsetting or disturbing, maybe, but not really so strange.

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