The Naturejobs Special Report “Lost in translation” (Nature 445, 454–455; 2007) discussed the importance of good English to a scientific career, as well as the difficulties experienced by scientists whose first language is not English. Having worked in four countries, and having a lab of eight people from seven different countries, I have found that languages are living entities that evolve continuously.

English is under the constant influence of other languages and cultures: 'latte', for example, now appears in the Oxford English Dictionary as well in cafés around the United Kingdom. Ironically, non-native speakers may communicate more easily in English with each other than with people whose only language is English. The key to communication is to learn languages: Latin, to start with, as it is a living component of scientific vocabulary. While we are at it, we may as well pronounce Latin as its native speakers did, not with an English accent. Any language will do, though, because speaking more than one is a great mental exercise. Relaxing into the comfort zone of one's native language, on the other hand, is a step towards mental lethargy.

We must all make an effort to read, write and speak good English in order to improve our communication in science. And I make no excuses for scientists who, like myself, come from countries where English is not the first language. At the same time, we should increase awareness of diversity. Cultural diversity, like genetic diversity, is one of our most precious assets. We must cherish, nurture and preserve both of them on a global scale. One way is to improve education, thus promoting tolerance.