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The Government wants us to learn English by watching films

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, July 16
Georgia has more than enough problems, but now its Government is creating extra problems out of nothing, as if it did not have enough to do addressing the existing ones. The Ministry of Culture has now decided that foreign films should be shown in their original languages, although doubtless with Georgian subtitles attached, no matter how many or how few people will understand them in that language.

Government members insist with undisguised pleasure that if this is done the viewers will learn foreign languages, mostly English. The opposition however says that that the practice might provoke a negative reaction from the people, who would not like the English language being forced into their daily lives in such a way. Parliament wants to give us English lessons, one of the Georgian newspapers commented when reporting the Parliamentary discussion of this initiative.

The draft law states that even documentaries should be shown in their original language with subtitles in Georgian, and the same regulations will apply in cinemas and on TV. If this law is adopted the National Communications Commission will have to elaborate detailed rules and make decisions through negotiation with TV companies. Supporters of this initiative think that it is more beneficial to watch the films in their original language as there are some discrepancies in translation and dubbing. Sceptics however say that this will mean pushing the Georgian language out of the cinema, saying that translating Shakespeare into Georgian, for example, would thus be forbidden.

Academic Elizbar Javelidze thinks that the country’s leadership wants to declare English the second national language in Georgia. Some consider this is flattery, like the similar steps previous Georgian Ministers took towards the Russian language. During the Soviet period Russian films were not dubbed at all. Some people look at this issue in a very pragmatic way and consider it wrong to adopt such a law for different reasons. Firstly it is technically less comfortable when you have to read subtitles instead of watching the action directly. Secondly most of the people who watch films on TV are middle aged or older, and their knowledge of English is either extremely poor or zero. This will mean that no one will watch the films on TV and the old and middle aged will give up visiting cinemas too. Furthermore a number of actors and actresses are employed to dub films, and if this law is introduced it will leave them jobless.

The move has immediately split society into two camps: supporters and critics. Maybe the problem is not serious enough to argue about too much. But is it worthwhile creating extra problems when you have so many great difficulties around you? This problem concerns the very vulnerable Georgian language, which is small and uncommercial anyway. Does the Government need to be perceived as attacking the language when there are so many other charges levelled ssagainst it?