‘It’s like getting another soul’: MM finds out if Manchester thinks it’s important to speak more than one language?

Manchester is a tremendously vibrant city, which draws together people from all nationalities, mixing cultures and languages to create a hugely diverse community.

A study which was published in 2013 by Multilingual Manchester, a project run by the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester, found that 200 languages are spoken in Manchester.

David Cameron made some startling remarks in late January commenting on the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of the UK’s Muslim women.

He told BBC’s Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh.”

MM took the challenge of integration and the need to expand the languages we speak to the streets.

But do Mancunians think it is important to speak more than one language? MM braved the weather to find out.

As you can see from the graph above, the majority of Manchester agreed that it was important to speak a second language. Here’s what some willing particpants had to say…

Business owner, Sarah Taylor, 47 from Wilmslow told us: “It’s fantastic if you can… we are probably very lazy with our languages in this country, I think it’s a great thing if you can speak another language.”

Jenny Singleton, a 26 year old part-time florist, originally from Bradford said: “I always think it’s handy to speak more than one language because there’s always somebody that needs a bit of help somewhere, and you need someone to bridge the communication gap.

“I speak the tiniest bit of French, and I speak a little bit of Japanese. So I find that communicating amongst other languages even if I don’t know them, a little bit easier.”

Michael Daniels, 26, a retail manager originally from Lincoln thinks that speaking Chinese and more specifically Mandarin is very important in Manchester.

“With people I employ I try to make it so most of them can speak another language… so they can serve the customers easier,” he said.

“I employ a guy who’s Chinese and he’s a lot better at serving the Chinese customers because obviously they can’t speak very good English and can translate for them a lot easier. It definitely helps.”

Laura Swire, a 20 year old student from Cambridge said: “It probably should be but I’m not sure it’s essential, but it would be helpful. People travel around a lot more and get a chance to meet a lot of different people.”

Benjamin Koop, a 29 year old florist from the Netherlands speaks Dutch, German and English told MM: “It is handy for tourism, and it is always good to know more languages, but I don’t think it is the most important no.”

Council worker Declan Kelly, 44, from Wythenshawe, who speaks some Gaelic said: It’s very important really, so different people from different cultures can integrate with different people.

“Growing up and stuff, I didn’t really have that opportunity but I do think you need to speak different languages, or know like pigeon bits of languages.”

Jac de Carteret, a 67 year old retiree from Guernsey supported this statement, claiming that if you aren’t making an effort to learn more languages then you aren’t integrating into the community.

Mortgage advisor Kevin Devanny, 26, Rochdale, thinks that it is very important so as all cultures, economics and cities can grow.

“I think it’s very important that there’s people of all different types of languages and cultures coming together,” he said.

Mancunian Bernetta Beginnah, 23, who works for Transport for Greater Manchester, and speaks Ghanaian told MM: “I think it’s important, if you work in an environment that requires you to speak another language.

But if you don’t speak anything other than say English, it doesn’t really matter that much.”

Julian Ross, a 55 year old retiree from Bramhall claims Oscar Wilde once said: “It’s like getting another soul.”

Images in main pic couresy of Penn State, Matthew Hartley and Alex Pepperhill via Flickr, with thanks.

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