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Copenhagen Business School

Is it a good thing when CBS Wire and CBS favor English?

By Niels Jørgen Lindtner, cand. merc. fil.

On the 14th of august, I had a little reader’s letter in Kristeligt Dagblad, wherein I proposed, that students of economy were to read Xenophon’s Oikonomikos. Prompted by rector Per Holten-Andersen I forwarded my letter to CBS Wire – maybe it will occasion a debate, he wrote me. Not that a debate, of course, was the object of my desire. My desire was and is to see Xenophon’s Oikonomikos as an obligatory part of every CBS student’s curriculum, but I heeded him nonetheless. Even now, sitting in my rococo chair I feel a bit puzzled, does a debate really have more to say than rector in regard to what’s on the curriculum? I suppose that depends on the rector!

So I forwarded my little letter to CBS Wire. However, the kind editor soon replied, that the wire is in English, not Danish, so if I could write something in English and target it for a CBS audience – then she would be willing to have a look at it.

Now I could write something about why I want students of economy to read Oikonomikos – present my reasons, but I think that something else needs to be addressed here first. For why is it, that CBS Wire is not in Danish?

Are the majority of students at CBS not Danes?

When I went to my final exam on the 31st of May this year, defending my master’s thesis, we were three Danes sitting there at the green clothed table together. My supervisor Morten Sørensen Thaning, a Dane, and the external examiner, Jørgen Huggler, a Dane, and then myself – a Dane! And what language were we speaking? English! Very unnatural – if you ask me.

And I regret to say, that I think it is with language as it is with everything else: if something is not looked after it deteriorates, expires – it corrodes. Or in other words: when we Danes don’t use our own language, it becomes poorer.

If the Danes are to follow the logic that is being practiced at CBS, then we have to rename Danmark to Denmark just as Handelshøjskolen has been renamed to CBS. I like to think, that as long as Denmark is Denmark, then Danish is also the prevailing language, why I can’t help think, that CBS is going in the wrong direction, when they insist on making their first language English instead of Danish. I belong to Denmark, before I belong to the world.

And in regard to Xenophon’s Oikonomikos I never once thought that the students at CBS should be reading it in English! Best, of course, if the students were proficient in Greek and could read it in the author’s own tongue, but, luckily, a Danish translation by Signe Isager is available in Danish.

So the question is: is it a good thing, when CBS Wire and CBS favor English – in effect excluding Danish?