June 06, 2007

Nebraska Troopers Ban Trucker For Not Speaking English

He spoke Spanish, right?


His CDL required English-language proficiency.

Such a requirement is not especially onerous, given the tasks that face commercial truck drivers all across the world. Language proficiency--both reading and speaking--should be a basic requirement (not to mention a nearly complete necessity) should problems arise during transportation. They inevitably will crop up, and the ability to deal with problems, and make on-time deliveries is crucial.

So why is the need to have even a basic knowledge of the prevailing language of the land so darn controversial?

In China, all services catering to foreigners have at least one employee with at least a rudimentary knowledge of English. This enables them not only to conduct business and serve their clients, but also to communicate with the many other travelers whose language is not Chinese or English.

Some non-US travelers I have met abroad have actually asked if they need a Spanish language phrasebook while in America. The answer should be no--and yet more and more even Americans find simple daily tasks hampered by an inability to effectively communicate with employees, businesses, and neighbors.

Some would say that Americans are myopic and provincial when it comes to foreign languages, and in some instances, they would be right. But for someone who speaks passing Spanish, German, some Chinese and can read Latin, this hardly an incredibly challenging demand.

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