Today I think I did a slight un-PC faux-pas at the jobs fair we attended.
Totally unintentionally though. Here’s what happened:
We are currently recruiting for people with European languages, but only Western European (i.e. French, German, Italian, Spanish, plus BENELUX and Scandinavia, Portuguese). There were naturally some students at the jobs fair who were bilingual with European languages not part of the list above (e.g. Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, etc.).
When someone asked me which languages we recruit for, I said:
Just the main European languages.
The person was slightly taken aback – she was Russian and asked me,
Is Russian not a main European language?
I.e. my usage of ‘main’ implied a hierarchy, and then I said: ‘Nothing East of Germany’ (I don’t even know if this is geographically correct – I meant to exclude any Eastern European languages).
I can see now why she was slightly annoyed. It’s not really fair to talk of main European languages, and exclude any East European ones. Next time I’ll say ‘Western European’.