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moss roberts

The Daode Jing begins with the impermanence of labels 名可名非常名。

Filippo Contesi

Making philosophy departments more international by providing more educational, hiring and other opportunities to non-native speakers would be a free and easy way to start addressing the problem:



Due to the specialized nature of the subject matter, I recently reached out academics in the US, Canada, and the UK in order to review articles written in Spanish. They only needed to be able to read Spanish, as the actual review could be done in English. Surprisingly, not a single person agreed to undertake the review. While some of them may not have responded or declined due to their lack of interest in a South American journal or to lack of time, others likely declined because they were unable to read languages other than English (and using an AI to do the translation was probably too time-consuming for them, although I need to use it every time I write in English to create a text that they will not criticize for its poor English).

Jacob Joseph Andrews

I'm a philosopher with an AOS that requires knowledge of multiple languages, and I definitely feel this pressure.

I'm also a foreign language teacher, and I will say this: learning a language is time consuming, but it doesn't have to be tedious, or intellectually taxing *in the same way* as philosophy. Even if you're learning a language for research purposes, taking an input-based approach, at least partially, is the way to go. E.g., YouTube chanknels like Aleph with Beth for Hebrew or Latin YouTubers like Luke Ranieri and Carla Hurt. Nothing will make languages easy, but they can become a break from academic work rather than an added burden.


In the past, at least in old European institutions, it was commonly expected for a scholar, not necessarily only in the humanities, to know the main "languages of culture", as they were known back then, even if this was by and large unnecessary for their scholarship. This was presumably tied to elitism in university access and education, and social homogeneity in the selection of permanent staff (upper-middle class). The kind of education and experiences that lead to mastery of several languages (and the "right" languages) by the time one is in grad school still point toward these "privilege" considerations, while it is my impression that academia has been democratizing (and upper-middle-class folks pick other careers).

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