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Message from the Dean

Dean, School of Language and Culture Studies

YAGI Kumiko

Language is the central pillar of the School of Language and Culture Studies. Language alone, however, is not our ultimate objective. Humans use language to formulate their thoughts and to convey those thoughts to others. Our objective is to teach our students what people in diverse regions of the world are thinking and how they are expressing their thoughts, and to do this we offer an education in the humanities that focuses on real people and their cultures more than on social or national systems.

It is not uncommon to assume that if we could only speak English we will be able to communicate with people everywhere. English is certainly understood worldwide and in this respect is a strong force in global communications. That is all the more reason, however, that we must pay attention to the numerous other languages of the world. If we are to understand and communicate with people of other cultures, we must learn the native language they speak every day; the mother tongue that they acquire naturally from infancy.

Language is a powerful tool. In 1982, the UK and Argentina fought a war over their territorial rights to the Falkland Islands. Sometime later, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) aired a program about the conflict in which they interviewed a number of people. In one of these interviews, a British soldier who had been calmly talking about the tragic aftermath of the war broke down when he started to describe an encounter with a badly wounded Argentinian, an enemy officer. The dying Argentinian asked, “Why are we fighting?” “He said it in English,” sobbed the British soldier. “I wish he hadn’t spoken in English.” To speak in a protagonist’s language is to open yourself to that person in a way that forces them to acknowledge you.

It is not easy to master another language. It takes a lot of effort and at first you may be frustrated that you can only speak like a small child. But the rewards are immeasurably great.

No matter what career path you choose after graduating from university, whether you go into government service, become a journalist or a teacher, if you want to maintain a global perspective, you absolutely must understand what it is people of other cultures value and hold most dear. The TUFS School of Language and Culture Studies offers just the environment you will need to acquire this critical understanding.