Why English as the Universal Language of Science is a Problem for Research

In non-blog related writing, an article that I wrote entitled Why English as the Universal Language of Science is a Problem for Research in The Atlantic is now published. In it, I talk about the effect that having English as the language of science has on the way that science is done. Here’s an extract:

Science’s language bias, in other words, extends beyond what’s printed on the page of a research paper. As Perera explained it, so long as English remains the gatekeeper to scientific discourse, shoehorning scientists of other cultural backgrounds into a single language comes with “the great cost of losing their unique ways of communicating ideas.”

“They gradually lose their own voice,” he said—and over time, other ways of understanding the world can simply fade away.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of impacts: impacts on the people in science, and impacts on the ideas in science. It was a lot of fun to write, and I used a bunch of research from previous blog posts when providing examples. There’s (of course) a lot of stuff that didn’t fit in there though, so I’ll see what I can wrangle into a new post some time soon.

On a personal level, it’s really exciting to have my first freelance article published, especially in such a well regarded publication as The Atlantic. If you’re interested in the article, you can check it out here. I’d love to read your comments and see what you think about all of this. To me, science’s language problem is a fascinating and important topic, but one that we often ignore. Let’s start talking about it now.


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