Friday, July 15, 2011

Should everyone learn Spanish?

Does learning Spanish really have negative externalities?
The Federal Court of Canada on Wednesday ordered Air Canada to pay $12,000 to Ottawa French-language rights crusader Michel Thibodeau in part because when he asked an English-speaking flight attendant for 7Up in May 12 of 2009, he got Sprite.
More here. HT: Marginal Revolution

The silver lining is that for a few years (maybe decades) legal requirements to have Spanish translators everywhere will generate demand for otherwise uneducated workers who would be unemployed. The drag it causes on the economy (acting like a tax on services) might cancel out that effect on the unemployment rate and eventually of course computers will do all the translation. But for a little while it could be good news for Hispanics and people who choose to become proficient in Spanish instead of getting some useful skills, like proficiently in engineering, programming, screen-writing or anything else that might benefit humanity instead of annoy the hell out of it.

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