Tongue tied in Wales

Oct 31 2007 by Derek Torres Print This Article

Regional differences have long been an issue in many European countries, especially in places like the United Kingdom and Spain where regions have long sought or achieved autonomy. But how do those differences and emotional reactions to ethnic pride affect the workplace? According to the BBC, the answer - in Wales at least - is "considerably".

The Welsh language has been enjoying something of a resurgence over the past decade or so. But now there are some who feel that this has permeated the workplace in Wales to the point that there are "benefits" for those who speak Welsh and active impediments for those who do not.

This is a particular concern in the public sector where positions have language proficiency requirements Ė for Welsh. Of course, not every position requires mastery, or even any, knowledge of the Welsh language. So it does smack of discrimination where a regional (or national, depending on how you look at it) language is required to hold a state position in an area that is still part and parcel of the United Kingdom.

As wrong as it has been for nations like Spain or the UK to try to suppress regional languages or dialects, we should be careful not to swing the other direction and make those who do not speak the languages in these regions feel like outcasts.

From a purely professional point of view, such segregation within the workplace can be severely damaging in the workplace and lead to inefficiency, lack of productivity, personal conflicts among colleagues, and an overall negative environment.

There's an old adage that states that you should never discuss religion or politics, perhaps it's time to add "language" to that list as well.