Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 9 January 2004

A "regional accent" unsuitable for foreigners learning English in the UK

According to the Home Office, that is!

Much embarrassment was caused to Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell yesterday when Scottish National Party leader John Swinney read out a letter a young Russian lady had received from the Home Office, informing her of its refusal to grant her a visa to learn English in Scotland, because:

"You cannot satisfactorily explain why you have chosen to attend an English course in Scotland rather than your other options of Oxford or Cambridge, where you should face less difficulty understanding a regional accent."

Scottish political commentator, Alan Cochrane, gave us his reaction:

"Their message was that anyone who wished an entry permit to Britain and who said that their reason was to learn English in the Scottish capital had to be 'at it', because of the well-known fact that, at least according to the those who order our affairs in the Home and Foreign offices, none of those 'Sweaties'* knew how to speak English."
(* - which he helpfully explains means "Sweaties: Sweaty socks, jocks. Geddit?")

I am not in favour of the Scottish National Party and its policies, but it is ignorant thinking like this, in our own Government of all places(!), that will strengthen its cause. Some regional accents are more pleasant to listen to than others, I would have to agree, but all are as valid as any other - it is time that certain officials in the Home Office were reminded of this.

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