In last week’s edition of The Economist, there was an interesting piece about Europes struggle with the English language and how it presents challenges to both the Brits and to the Europeans. According to the article the development may point in a direction where most Europeans are bilingual, while the ‘Anglophones’ are monolingual. An effect that is already taking place in the UK is that children in school have to learn less foreign language, which ‘robs them of such benefits as the humility and respect for others that comr from learning another language.’
I written on the challenges English presents to science earlier. What I didn’t think of then, but have thought of since, is that brilliant researchers from outside the UK and US may seem less brilliant when they have to communicate in English. This is probably not a very severe problem, but at least on the individual level it can certainly have an impact. For example, if your brilliant article is left out to give room to a less-brilliant-but-better-written article, both you and the science is worse off.