Russia wants officials to be fluent in English

Russia wants officials to be fluent in English

The Russian government is moving to address linguistic shortcomings by multiplying the number of polyglot officials, the Guardian reported Friday.

A strategy document unveiled this week says that by 2020, at least 20 percent of workers in state service must be fluent in a foreign language. More importantly, from next year all newly-recruited bureaucrats should already be competent in English.

It's the latest sign of a subtle trend: although Russia has a difficult relationship with the English-speaking world, when it comes to speaking English it is a different matter, the report said.

English vocabulary has already made deep forays into Russians. In Moscow, for example, tineydzhery (teenagers) might go to a mall to shopitsya, depending on the dress-kod of the klub they're heading for.

Many of the words in use spring from recently acquired financial and business terms that were unknown in Soviet times, such as steyk-kholdery (stakeholders), autsorsing (outsourcing), riteyl (retail) and franchayz (franchise).

The computer-friendly younger generation, meanwhile, knows all about apgrady (upgrades), fayrvoly (firewalls) and kiberskvoting (cybersquatting).

Yury Alekseyev, a professional linguist and the president of a "terminological committee" which issues recommendations for usage of foreign-origin words said he welcomed the effort to increase multi-lingual bureaucrats.

"I'd also like to see a more qualified defence of the Russian language from the influence of English," he added.

Russians collectively winced when their sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, gave a brave but heavily accented speech in English at Russia's World Cup bid in Zurich, Switzerland last month. Nearly a million viewers have shared his pain by watching the clip, called "Let mi spik from may khart, in Inglish", on YouTube.