Academic journal article Nursing History Review

English as a Barrier

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

English as a Barrier

Article excerpt

Language is part of the culture and the identity of any people, and it is within and through the language that concepts and categories of realities are created in each group or community. The words that make up a language do not rep- resent unbiased descriptions of objects or phenomenon. Therefore, language is characterized by its dynamism and adjustment to social and cultural changes.

But language can also be a barrier to real communication. Although in- formation technology has connected different people from different regions of the world, the linguistic and cultural diversity becomes a complicating fac- tor for scholarly relationships both within and outside the academy. At the International Council of Nurses, English was adopted as its official language from the very beginning. However, the issue of languages was always a very hot and emotional topic. By 1965, French and Spanish were added as working languages. Yet there were still many nurses representing countries where none of these languages were spoken.

Certainly, Spanish and Portuguese speakers have a similar heritage. Feel- ing that there are still so many unexplored areas on the history of nursing within the Iberian-American world, it was thought that an organization cover- ing countries within this territorial area, united by a common language and a similar Latin heritage would help one another develop as stronger historical scholars. In Lisbon in 2009, a small group of nurses from Spain, Portugal, and Brazil created the Iberian-American Federation for the History of Nursing. In 2011, its bylaws were approved in Spain, and the first board was elected with representatives from Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, and Chile. …

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