Ruth Kelly Lays into Translation Services

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The government’s communities secretary, Ruth Kelly, laid into translation services last week on the BBC’s Politics Show. Having information translated, she said, means people have no reason to learn English. “For example,” she said, “it’s quite possible for someone to come here from Pakistan … and to find that materials are routinely translated into their mother tongue, and therefore not have the incentive to learn English.”

Kelly seems to be making two points: that translation services are pointless and redundant; and that migrants to the UK are not motivated to learn English because everything they need is translated for them. On the first point: given Kelly’s concern with integration, surely there should be more, not less, translation of information for new arrivals? But the second point raises a far deeper issue.

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