A group of S5 and S6 pupils made the long trek down to Heriot-Watt University onWednesday. It is the third year we have attended the event and this time we invited a group from Glen Urquhart High school along.
The motion was “This house believes that the rise of the machine will end the era of the linguist.” The debate was held in five different languages: English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese. We were all given headphones and could listen to simultaneous translations into English. If we wanted to, we could also listen to versions in Chinese and Arabic as well as French, German and Spanish. All the translating was done by students at the university.
We were asked to vote at the beginning whether we were for or against the motion. About a third was in favour and two thirds against. The debate itself was very lively and informative. Given that the speakers arguing for the motion were linguists themselves they put up a good show playing ‘devil’s advocate’. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough and at the end of the debate they lost comprehensively.
After the debate a representative from Heriot-Watt told us a bit about the courses they offer. She focused on the work opportunities for linguists, both in business and international affairs. The future certainly looks rosy for language students, even if they still resort to using translating ‘aps’ on their phones once in a while!
Mrs Sylvie Robinson, Languages Department