Natural polyglots

I refer to Andrey Kurkov's article "Russian rally" (8 January). Apparently he marvelled at the way a waitress jumped back and forth between Russian and Tatar. Surely, as a Ukrainian, he must be aware that most of his countrymen can also speak their own language and Russian with ease. If he goes to Alsace, he will find waitresses switching comfortably between French, German and the local Alsatian tongue (a variety of German). And what about Wales, where many brought up in Welsh also speak good English?

Marjorie Vanston

This article first appeared in the 22 January 2007 issue of the New Statesman, Sex and politics