Do you speak English?

This week I travelled to Berlin to speak at a conference about DevOps. This is one of a handful of opportunities that I've had to attend and speak at conferences where the majority of the audience that I am talking to are not native English speakers. When I accepted this speaking engagement I asked whether it is OK that I can present the talk in English - as if I would be capable of doing anything else!

The reality is that I can't speak any other languages and the fact that I can get away with this is a consequence of history. When I jump on a plane to travel to another country I have an expectation that almost everyone I meet will at least be able to speak some English. This to me is the definition of privilege.

I am lucky that English is my first language at that the majority of the people that I meet when travelling are at least fluent enough in it that we can have basic exchanges. When people visit an English speaking country we expect non-English speakers to "speak English".

According to an article in Forbes, English is not set to be replaced anytime soon as the standard for business. The author of that article points out that comfort that provides them having not mastered another language. That sentiment resonates with me.

I do feel just a tinge of guilt walking around someone elses country expecting to converse in English without knowing even basic German.

Mitch Denny

I'm a geek, husband and father. I live in Redmond, Washington and work for Microsoft helping to build Azure DevOps. All opinions are my own, and not my employer's.

Redmond, Washington

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