If only science spoke English – Corriere.it

If only science spoke English – Corriere.it

An interesting joint study by the Universities of Queensland and the Universities of Californiapublished in July by The Monthly Biology PLUS, outlined the consequences of the dominance of the English language in science and thus its disadvantages for researchers who were not native English speakers. Suffice it to say, they face a 2.6 times greater risk of being rejected by scientific journals. This means that even with equal or greater technical competence, they will have fewer job opportunities. It will be said that automatic translators are on the Internet, to which artificial intelligence resources are added. But if the bridge gap A high and medium level of knowledge of the language is not enough, it is also true that neither Google Translate nor ChatGPT guarantee an acceptable style that can only be dominated by native or non-English speakers with proven experience. Because even an international scientific language requires stylistic quality, which, as we know, is not characteristic of machine translators. Of course, researchers can always turn to professional editors to revise their texts, but this path, already widely practiced by those who can afford it, involves extra spending of money which leads to more economic inconveniences, especially for young researchers from wealthy non-EU countries. .

On the other hand, the demand for proofreading from non-native speakers is 12.5 times higher. That the English-speaking monopoly is a discriminatory barrier is illustrated by the fact that articles published from the USA and Great Britain are far more numerous than those from peripheral countries (would they also be better in terms of merit and style?). Without prejudice to the need for a common language for the scientific community, under these circumstances, however, the pluralism of science is a utopia. The problem is not the universal use of English but the penalization (or abolition) of other national languages. It remains to understand how to treat this. Scientific journals could increasingly have their own reviewers, or even better, they could democratically open up to other languages ​​(with English in the margins or vice versa?). Italian, French, German, Spanish, etc. (scientific) thought has its own paths (including creative ones) which become impoverished if forced to follow the path of a single language.

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