Speaking Your Mind

Most life scientists are working at an enormous disadvantage, and their resentment is growing.

Richard Gallagher
Apr 1, 2008

How would you cope if you had to describe complex ideas, convey fine nuances in data interpretation, and express your most creative thoughts in an alien language with a totally different vocabulary and an illogical structure? Not only that, you would have to do this while many of your colleagues and competitors, who also act as the gatekeepers of your subject, are happily working away in their mother tongue.

Hardly a level playing field, is it? And yet this is precisely the situation in which most researchers, teachers, students, and even schoolchildren find themselves. They might speak any one of more than 6,000 languages used in the world today, but if they don't communicate in English, then the sciences, especially the life sciences, are closed to them. This generates huge disconnects — make that discrimination — in information sharing and opportunity. It's something that the Anglophone...