Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Quick, what's the word for "gene" in Kannada?

I speak Kannada, but I've never heard someone use a Kannada word when they needed to use "gene" in a sentence. Ehsan Masood, in this article in Open democracy (via 3quarks daily) on the use of English for scientific research and writing suggests much is at stake.

The bulk of scientific research these days is reported in specialist journals published in Europe and the United States – and in the English language. Unless scientists in other parts of the world take more of a lead in innovation, languages such as Urdu will continue to need to "borrow" words such as "gene", "fertiliser", "biological", "pesticide" and "steroids".

And, as Masood rightly points out, the emphasis on English stems from a recognition that to be part of a scientific community and contribute to dialogues at global levels, there is no escaping the English language.


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