Every day during September we will post up an idea for you to vote on. The most popular ideas will become the things that the inaugural Organizing Committee of the Critical Physiotherapy Network focuses on in 2015. So please make sure you cast your vote at the bottom of each post.
A good friend of mine and someone known to a lot of people in health care in Canada (the very brilliant and fiercely critical Dave Holmes), is a native French speaker. You’d never know it from the way he writes, but he has some real anxieties about his ability to express himself in English. As someone who has always struggled to learn languages, I confess I can’t imagine anything more difficult than trying to express deeply held, embodied, philosophical and theoretical ideas in a language that’s not one’s native tongue. Let me state it here, I have total respect for anyone who can do this successfully.
For those of us who have the luxury of having English as our first language, and finding much of the world of academia neatly arranged to our advantage, I think we have a duty to our colleagues from other non-English speaking countries to help out – to smoothe out any nuances of language and idiom that might make the difference between someone feeling comfortable to submit their work and not. Take, for example, our large network of colleagues in Scandinavia. I must’ve had a dozen emails from people in the last 3 months apologising for their command of English, but enthusiastic about being part of the group. Well I think there are things that we can do here to help people feel more confident in their publishing.
I suppose there is a risk that this is seen as patronising, and even writing this has made me feel really self-conscious and unhappy about a system that is so prejudicial towards other languages. So I’ll state here that this is, at best, a poor substitute for a system built on difference and inclusiveness, but it is what it is, and we are unlikely to change the basic tenets of medical publishing by ourselves. But what we can do is support our friends who want to publish in English-language journals, and offer our help and support to read a paper or offer writing support before a paper goes off to print. If this gives a great writer with a brilliant idea the confidence to submit their work rather than hold it back, then it’s got to be a good idea. Hasn’t it?
Post update: please note that voting closed on 7 October 2014 (results are available here), but please feel free to post your comments in the space below.