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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 2:21 am 
zompist wrote:

Do all 1.3 billion Chinese have to learn English? Why, for heaven's sake? If they really did, they would. The very fact of all the excitement and difficulty shows that it's a fad.


In a society where the best-paying and most promising jobs indeed go to English speakers (as they increasingly do in China), I would consider this unending "fad" to be a reflection of that injust and pointless reality.

Quote:
Didn't I just answer that with at least three suggestions?


Uh? I'm sorry, but I didn't see those suggestions. Which ones are you referring to?

Quote:

I'm not sure what your point is here. Sure, it pays to translate Hollywood blockbusters into the local languages of large markets. If anything, that suggests to me that linguistic monoculture is not needed. In order to enjoy something from another language, you don't need to teach all 1.3 billion of your citizens that language. You teach a few translators the language.


My point is that since linguistic diversity is a flimsy barrier against cultural infusion, it is also a poor way to protect cultural diversity.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 2:57 am 
Quote:
In a society where the best-paying and most promising jobs indeed go to English speakers (as they increasingly do in China), I would consider this unending "fad" to be a reflection of that injust and pointless reality.


Consider that, in the 80s, it was a corporate American fad to learn Japanese, and Japanese speakers were graced with the quickest promotions (by bosses who usually couldn't speak the language themselves). I had a cousin whose boss, in 1987, made it very clear that those in their department who signed up for Japanese classes would be first on the promotion list. By the early to mid 90s, this fad was all but gone. Stuff like this comes and goes in every country.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 4:32 am 
jburke wrote:
Quote:
In a society where the best-paying and most promising jobs indeed go to English speakers (as they increasingly do in China), I would consider this unending "fad" to be a reflection of that injust and pointless reality.


Consider that, in the 80s, it was a corporate American fad to learn Japanese, and Japanese speakers were graced with the quickest promotions (by bosses who usually couldn't speak the language themselves). I had a cousin whose boss, in 1987, made it very clear that those in their department who signed up for Japanese classes would be first on the promotion list. By the early to mid 90s, this fad was all but gone. Stuff like this comes and goes in every country.


The Japanese language came nowhere close to the sheer level of dominance that English now enjoys, just as Japan herself never even came close to the US in economic, political, and military dominance. Today's world is a world where Chinese companies have to speak English in order to communicate with not just Americans, but also Europeans, Arabs, Indians, Japanese, Koreans, and pretty much everyone in the world. Not speaking English dooms a Chinese company to the confines of the domestic market. This situation isn't comparable to Americans learning Japanese in the 80's.

Hence, unless American hegemony fades very quickly over the next two decades or so (and frankly, that's very unlikely), English will continue its complete dominance as the international lingua franca, and this "fad" will certainly continue as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 4:39 am 
Lebom
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ran not in wrote:
zompist wrote:

Do all 1.3 billion Chinese have to learn English? Why, for heaven's sake? If they really did, they would. The very fact of all the excitement and difficulty shows that it's a fad.


In a society where the best-paying and most promising jobs indeed go to English speakers (as they increasingly do in China), I would consider this unending "fad" to be a reflection of that injust and pointless reality.


Throughout the world, many (although not all) good jobs do go to people who know foreign languages, particularly English. But in most cases, applicants for these jobs are assumed to have a good command of the local dominant language. I would be surprised if good jobs in China went to people with a good command of English but poor command of Mandarin.




ran not in wrote:

My point is that since linguistic diversity is a flimsy barrier against cultural infusion, it is also a poor way to protect cultural diversity.


The point of linguistic diversity is simply that it exists, not that it is a barrier to "cultural diffusion". Many, if not most, people like belonging to the culture they were born into. If you don't like the fact that, say, Swedes prefer to speak Swedish among themselves, that's your business, but I doubt that Swedes will pay much attention to you.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 8:40 am 
gsandi wrote:

Throughout the world, many (although not all) good jobs do go to people who know foreign languages, particularly English. But in most cases, applicants for these jobs are assumed to have a good command of the local dominant language. I would be surprised if good jobs in China went to people with a good command of English but poor command of Mandarin.


That's irrelevant to the fact that English, a language alien and impenetrable to the majority of Chinese citizens, nevertheless plays an important role in their lives and careers. My point has always been that people around the world are automatically disadvantaged by, and forced to commit extra effort for something that does not actually reflect their abilities.

(This "extra effort" is not merely mowing the lawn on Sunday; it's painfully, excruciatingly long and never seems to end. We are after all talking about moving from Chinese to English, not from Dutch to German.)

Mandarin is already known by the majority of Chinese from childhood, and those from heavily "dialected" areas in the South pick Mandarin up relatively effortlessly in school and from TV. Hence Mandarin is irrelevant to this discussion.

ran not in wrote:

The point of linguistic diversity is simply that it exists, not that it is a barrier to "cultural diffusion". Many, if not most, people like belonging to the culture they were born into. If you don't like the fact that, say, Swedes prefer to speak Swedish among themselves, that's your business, but I doubt that Swedes will pay much attention to you.


If the point of linguistic diversity is simply that it exists (as opposed to promoter of cultural diversity as well)? Then this "toy" that exists for the amusement of all of us will continue to sap away money, time, energy, and basic equality of opportunity from most of humanity.

I can't exactly judge if that's a good or a bad thing; but I'm laying these facts out, for the benefit of those who continue to perceive of linguistic diversity as some sort of idealistic flower garden, or art gallery, or menagerie of exotic animals. It's not.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 9:09 am 
Lebom
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ran not in wrote:
gsandi wrote:


The point of linguistic diversity is simply that it exists, not that it is a barrier to "cultural diffusion". Many, if not most, people like belonging to the culture they were born into. If you don't like the fact that, say, Swedes prefer to speak Swedish among themselves, that's your business, but I doubt that Swedes will pay much attention to you.


If the point of linguistic diversity is simply that it exists (as opposed to promoter of cultural diversity as well)? Then this "toy" that exists for the amusement of all of us will continue to sap away money, time, energy, and basic equality of opportunity from most of humanity.

I can't exactly judge if that's a good or a bad thing; but I'm laying these facts out, for the benefit of those who continue to perceive of linguistic diversity as some sort of idealistic flower garden, or art gallery, or menagerie of exotic animals. It's not.


I understand your point of view, and even have some sympathy for it. At the same time, efficiency is not the only purpose of mankind - we are not machines. I myself had to learn English, a language I will always speak a little bit less perfectly than native speakers, but so what? I have qualities that make up for my shortcomings.

If your purpose is to work towards a sigle world state where everyone speaks the same language (presumably American English, but maybe not), that's your privilege. But there are many people who would not like to see such a situation, and I am one of them.

As for perceiving diversity as a flower garden, an art gallery or a zoo, that really does not matter, does it? I may (wrongly) perceive my cat as a substitute human friend, but this does not alter the reality of the cat as a partly-domesticated animal. Similarly, some people may perceive an esoteric language as some kind of toy, but this does not alter the fact that the language in question may be very much part of the identity of its speakers.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:25 am 
gsandi wrote:

I understand your point of view, and even have some sympathy for it. At the same time, efficiency is not the only purpose of mankind - we are not machines. I myself had to learn English, a language I will always speak a little bit less perfectly than native speakers, but so what? I have qualities that make up for my shortcomings.


I am currently learning French through English, and I can safely assure you that the gap between English and Chinese (indeed, between English and most other languages) is much bigger and harder to bridge.

I agree that efficiency is not humanity's only goal - but sentimentality shouldn't be humanity's one consideration overruling all other pragmatic concerns either.

Quote:
If your purpose is to work towards a sigle world state where everyone speaks the same language (presumably American English, but maybe not), that's your privilege. But there are many people who would not like to see such a situation, and I am one of them.


That's definitely not my purpose. For reasons both zompist and I have stated (greater adaptability in human civilization), I place great value on cultural and philosophical diversity. But I don't think these reasons apply to languages.

Quote:
As for perceiving diversity as a flower garden, an art gallery or a zoo, that really does not matter, does it? I may (wrongly) perceive my cat as a substitute human friend, but this does not alter the reality of the cat as a partly-domesticated animal. Similarly, some people may perceive an esoteric language as some kind of toy, but this does not alter the fact that the language in question may be very much part of the identity of its speakers.


It does matter, as it colours the perceptions of many people. Many people say that this diversity is "wonderful" or "beautiful" without considering the flip side of the coin at all.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:25 am 
Boardlord
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ran not in wrote:
That's irrelevant to the fact that English, a language alien and impenetrable to the majority of Chinese citizens, nevertheless plays an important role in their lives and careers. My point has always been that people around the world are automatically disadvantaged by, and forced to commit extra effort for something that does not actually reflect their abilities.


There are disadvantages the other way, too. You, for instance, know two languages well, which gives you access to two different cultures and two different job markets, and very likely gives you some mental advantages as well. Monolingual Americans don't have that advantage.

The average American executive only understands his own culture and language; this is a disadvantage in the global marketplace. European and Asian companies routinely do business in a dozen countries; American countries very often do business only in the US, or the US and Canada, with some desultory effort to market internationally, constantly hobbled by unfamiliarity with and disdain for international markets.

(Yes, they'll say they believe in reaching the global market. Executives say lots of things.)

And frankly, it's easier to teach a willing person a new language than to teach an American manager new ways of looking at things.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 11:42 am 
zompist wrote:

There are disadvantages the other way, too. You, for instance, know two languages well, which gives you access to two different cultures and two different job markets, and very likely gives you some mental advantages as well. Monolingual Americans don't have that advantage.


As a side note, the gap in mentality and philosophy between the West and China is even bigger than it's made out to be. I'm lurking on a BBS from China right now, and oh boy, I can't imagine them meeting you guys. You all will probably disagree about everything and anything remotely expressible by human language.

Quote:
The average American executive only understands his own culture and language; this is a disadvantage in the global marketplace. European and Asian companies routinely do business in a dozen countries; American countries very often do business only in the US, or the US and Canada, with some desultory effort to market internationally, constantly hobbled by unfamiliarity with and disdain for international markets.


America is the world's most powerful country, after all. Like certain other former superpowers in the past, this does unavoidably create such attitudes, -- since, for now, the people harbouring such attitudes can afford to do.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 12:41 pm 
I can't speak about America, but here in Britain there is a growing awareness that we disadvantaged by our monolingualism - unfortunately this awareness is so far mainly at the level of businessmen, politicians, academics and economists, but eventually I'm sure it will trickle down to the rest of the populace, and we'll start learning more languages (that is already beginning to happen in higher social circles, and amongst more academically gifted pupils).
There is also a feeling that Britain has lost out by the dominance of America - America has effectively "taken over" our language, and while Chinese people may be able to preserve their language, America and Britain are too culturally and linguistically close for us to be able to insulate our English from theirs.

Incidentally Ran, could you give some examples of how the Chinese opinions differ from ours?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 2:00 pm 
Lebom
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ran not in wrote:
gsandi wrote:

I understand your point of view, and even have some sympathy for it. At the same time, efficiency is not the only purpose of mankind - we are not machines. I myself had to learn English, a language I will always speak a little bit less perfectly than native speakers, but so what? I have qualities that make up for my shortcomings.


I am currently learning French through English, and I can safely assure you that the gap between English and Chinese (indeed, between English and most other languages) is much bigger and harder to bridge.


My mother tongue isn't French, it's Hungarian. Quite a bit more different from English, as it belongs to a different language family (Uralic).


ran not in wrote:
gsandi wrote:
If your purpose is to work towards a sigle world state where everyone speaks the same language (presumably American English, but maybe not), that's your privilege. But there are many people who would not like to see such a situation, and I am one of them.


That's definitely not my purpose. For reasons both zompist and I have stated (greater adaptability in human civilization), I place great value on cultural and philosophical diversity. But I don't think these reasons apply to languages.


ran not in wrote:
gsandi wrote:
As for perceiving diversity as a flower garden, an art gallery or a zoo, that really does not matter, does it? I may (wrongly) perceive my cat as a substitute human friend, but this does not alter the reality of the cat as a partly-domesticated animal. Similarly, some people may perceive an esoteric language as some kind of toy, but this does not alter the fact that the language in question may be very much part of the identity of its speakers.


It does matter, as it colours the perceptions of many people. Many people say that this diversity is "wonderful" or "beautiful" without considering the flip side of the coin at all.


What's the flip side?

More seriously, you seem to imply that linguistic diversity is the result of some sentimental plot by naive outsiders. In fact, it goes the other way - people will often go to extreme lengths to protect their native language, even at the cost of economic or political disadvantage to them.

If you ever get the chance, go to a city like Barcelona. The majority there speak Catalan, but during the Franco dictatorship use of this language was heavily discouraged by the authorities. It was certainly absolutley excluded from education, the media and public signs. As soon as the dictatorship was over, Catalan came back with a vengeance, and now Barcelona is cheerfully bilingual with Catalan having a definite edge. Go, look at the city - it's one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world, as well as one of the richest (if not the richest) cities of Spain. It is clear that one of the reasons for the city's vibrancy is the pride its inhabitants have in it, and part of this pride comes from being able to speak their own language in all circumstances.

Now tell me this - in what way would Barcelona be a better place if its people spoke only Spanish - come to think of it, why shouldn't they speak English, seeing that this is the "coming" world language?


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 5:44 am 
Lebom
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Salmoneus wrote:

Incidentally Ran, could you give some examples of how the Chinese opinions differ from ours?


It's a bit hard to put into words... I don't really know how to explain it. Suffices to say that the priorities and perspectives involved are completely different.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 6:03 am 
Lebom
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gsandi wrote:
My mother tongue isn't French, it's Hungarian. Quite a bit more different from English, as it belongs to a different language family (Uralic).


Oh, I'm sorry. So how did you come to know French and English?


ran not in wrote:
What's the flip side?


I've explained that already.

Quote:
More seriously, you seem to imply that linguistic diversity is the result of some sentimental plot by naive outsiders. In fact, it goes the other way - people will often go to extreme lengths to protect their native language, even at the cost of economic or political disadvantage to them.


That is not what I implied. I'm saying that people go about "protecting" lingustic diversity without ever understanding what they're protecting.

Quote:
If you ever get the chance, go to a city like Barcelona. The majority there speak Catalan, but during the Franco dictatorship use of this language was heavily discouraged by the authorities. It was certainly absolutley excluded from education, the media and public signs. As soon as the dictatorship was over, Catalan came back with a vengeance, and now Barcelona is cheerfully bilingual with Catalan having a definite edge. Go, look at the city - it's one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world, as well as one of the richest (if not the richest) cities of Spain. It is clear that one of the reasons for the city's vibrancy is the pride its inhabitants have in it, and part of this pride comes from being able to speak their own language in all circumstances.

Now tell me this - in what way would Barcelona be a better place if its people spoke only Spanish - come to think of it, why shouldn't they speak English, seeing that this is the "coming" world language?


Your analogy is different from the situation I laid out, and the situation in most of the world as well, because:

1) Catalan is a lot closer to both Spanish and English than most languages. The gap that Catalonians need to cross is hence much narrower.

2) Catalonians are already bilingual (or even trilingual), a situation that we've established earlier on to be detrimental to linguistic diversity.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 7:08 am 
Ummm.... logic would suggest that the more languages people spoke, the more linguistic diversity there was, rather than, as you claim, vice versa. If everyone spoke one language there would be more diversity than if everyone spoke twenty? That's an unusual hypothesis.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 7:15 am 
Lebom
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Ran wrote:
gsandi wrote:
My mother tongue isn't French, it's Hungarian. Quite a bit more different from English, as it belongs to a different language family (Uralic).


Oh, I'm sorry. So how did you come to know French and English?


I studied them, then moved to environments where these languages are spoken. I also married a native English-speaker and had French-, Spanish- and Japanese-speaking girlfriends in the past. This does wonders for your linguistic ability.

Ran wrote:
gsandi wrote:
More seriously, you seem to imply that linguistic diversity is the result of some sentimental plot by naive outsiders. In fact, it goes the other way - people will often go to extreme lengths to protect their native language, even at the cost of economic or political disadvantage to them.


That is not what I implied. I'm saying that people go about "protecting" linguistic diversity without ever understanding what they're protecting.


The role of outside "protectors" in these matters is minimal. What matters is that speakers of Catalan in Spain or French in Quebec want to protect their own language, which is surely their political right. I don't see why this bothers you, anyway. If all you want is to live in a unilingual environment, you are perfectly free to try for a green card, move to the US, and never feel obliged to utter another word in a non-English language again.

Quote:
If you ever get the chance, go to a city like Barcelona. The majority there speak Catalan, but during the Franco dictatorship use of this language was heavily discouraged by the authorities. It was certainly absolutley excluded from education, the media and public signs. As soon as the dictatorship was over, Catalan came back with a vengeance, and now Barcelona is cheerfully bilingual with Catalan having a definite edge. Go, look at the city - it's one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world, as well as one of the richest (if not the richest) cities of Spain. It is clear that one of the reasons for the city's vibrancy is the pride its inhabitants have in it, and part of this pride comes from being able to speak their own language in all circumstances.

Now tell me this - in what way would Barcelona be a better place if its people spoke only Spanish - come to think of it, why shouldn't they speak English, seeing that this is the "coming" world language?


Ran wrote:
Your analogy is different from the situation I laid out, and the situation in most of the world as well, because:

1) Catalan is a lot closer to both Spanish and English than most languages. The gap that Catalonians need to cross is hence much narrower.

2) Catalonians are already bilingual (or even trilingual), a situation that we've established earlier on to be detrimental to linguistic diversity.


What on earth are we arguing about? What does the gap between languages have to do with anything?

If you don't like the Catalan situation, let's talk about Singapore. It has a Chinese majority, and people belonging to that majority are expected to speak and write both Mandarin and English, in addition to speaking their own dialect, which tends not to be Mandarin. Malays and Tamils are expected to know their own language as well as English. There is incredible linguistic diversity.

Back to the Catalonian situation, what evidence do you have that what is going on there is detrimental to linguistic diversity? Everybody knows Spanish, yet the use of Catalan has expanded dramatically during the past 25 years. There is more, rather than less, diversity now than before.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 7:26 am 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
Ummm.... logic would suggest that the more languages people spoke, the more linguistic diversity there was, rather than, as you claim, vice versa. If everyone spoke one language there would be more diversity than if everyone spoke twenty? That's an unusual hypothesis.


Ran had argued that in an environment where most individuals speak more than one language, the use of all languages except for the one spoken by the most people will eventually fade away.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 7:53 am 
gsandi wrote:
I studied them, then moved to environments where these languages are spoken. I also married a native English-speaker and had French-, Spanish- and Japanese-speaking girlfriends in the past. This does wonders for your linguistic ability.


:mrgreen: I'd certainly imagine so.

gsandi wrote:
The role of outside "protectors" in these matters is minimal. What matters is that speakers of Catalan in Spain or French in Quebec want to protect their own language, which is surely their political right. I don't see why this bothers you, anyway. If all you want is to live in a unilingual environment, you are perfectly free to try for a green card, move to the US, and never feel obliged to utter another word in a non-English language again.


Again, not what I meant. My goal has always been to show the dirty, bad, and inconvenient sides to linguistid diversity. Of course Catalonians and the Quebecois want to protect their own languages - but the Anglosphere, it seems, is ignorant to the sacrifices being made in the process. Sentimentality certainly shouldn't be the only, overriding factor in this issue.

Quote:
What on earth are we arguing about? What does the gap between languages have to do with anything?

If you don't like the Catalan situation, let's talk about Singapore. It has a Chinese majority, and people belonging to that majority are expected to speak and write both Mandarin and English, in addition to speaking their own dialect, which tends not to be Mandarin. Malays and Tamils are expected to know their own language as well as English. There is incredible linguistic diversity.


How long do you think the situation in Singapore is going to last? Non-Mandarin Chinese dialects are lucky to survive at all into the next generation. Mandarin survives for the sole reason that it is taught at school - many people forget pretty much all of their Chinese when they graduate.

That is why Barcelona, from what I understand, is not reflective of linguistic vibrancy:

1) Political defiance is a large factor, but this kind of thing doesn't last.
2) Catalan is very close to lingua francas like Castilian or English, hence Catalonians do not nearly need to make the same painful effort as the rest of the world, which is after all where most of the linguistic diversity can be found.
3) A fully multilingual society like Catalonia is the last stage before it becomes monolingual, especially in the modern world.

These, combined together, means that Barcelonans have a much easier time in maintaining their linguistic diversity, but even then they will lose it eventually anyway.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 9:03 am 
Lebom
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ran not in wrote:

gsandi wrote:
The role of outside "protectors" in these matters is minimal. What matters is that speakers of Catalan in Spain or French in Quebec want to protect their own language, which is surely their political right. I don't see why this bothers you, anyway. If all you want is to live in a unilingual environment, you are perfectly free to try for a green card, move to the US, and never feel obliged to utter another word in a non-English language again.


Again, not what I meant. My goal has always been to show the dirty, bad, and inconvenient sides to linguistid diversity. Of course Catalonians and the Quebecois want to protect their own languages - but the Anglosphere, it seems, is ignorant to the sacrifices being made in the process. Sentimentality certainly shouldn't be the only, overriding factor in this issue.


Sentimentality, whatever you mean by the term, is not the only factor in the issue. The main factor is what people do - whom they vote for, where they send their kids for school (assuming they have a choice), what language they speak at home, and do they vote with their feet - if they don't like what's going on, they can leave.


ran not in wrote:
That is why Barcelona, from what I understand, is not reflective of linguistic vibrancy:

1) Political defiance is a large factor, but this kind of thing doesn't last.
2) Catalan is very close to lingua francas like Castilian or English, hence Catalonians do not nearly need to make the same painful effort as the rest of the world, which is after all where most of the linguistic diversity can be found.
3) A fully multilingual society like Catalonia is the last stage before it becomes monolingual, especially in the modern world.

These, combined together, means that Barcelonans have a much easier time in maintaining their linguistic diversity, but even then they will lose it eventually anyway.


At this point I think we better agree to disagree. Once people start using terms like "eventually", there is no counterproof possible. Suppose I go to Barcelona in 30 years' time, and I find that Spanish-Catalan bilingualism is as widespread as, or even more widespread than, today. Then you come along and say, well, maybe, but all this is temporary, and the diversity will, eventually, disappear.

I can't foretell the future, and I don't necessarily believe people who claim that they can.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 9:13 am 
It seems futile arguing with you Ran, for you seem to have constructed an impenetrable argument:
1. There is either diversity or there is not
2. If there is no diversity, it proves your point
3. If there is diversity, this is evidence that there will not be diversity in the future (because linguistic diversity is bad for linguistic diversity)
4. Therefore there will not be any linguistic diversity.

Point 3 is impossible to argue with, because however many counterexamples we bring up, you can always say "ah, but they WILL become monolingual." A hypothesis that seems based on the fact that they always do, and even if they haven't yet they will: and you know that they will because your hypothesis says so, and your hypothsesis is supported by incontravertable evidence - every situation possible to imagine supports your hypothesis (providing, of course, that your hypothesis is true, which it must be, as every suituation supports it).

Of course, it still leaves the question of why you want to stop people speaking their own language, given that you know they're going to stop anyway. It seems to me that you are like the man who bursts into the Oval Office shouting "we must nuke the world, we must nuke the world!", and when asked why replies "because its inevitable that we will, so we might as well."


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 11:57 am 
gsandi wrote:
Sentimentality, whatever you mean by the term, is not the only factor in the issue. The main factor is what people do - whom they vote for, where they send their kids for school (assuming they have a choice), what language they speak at home, and do they vote with their feet - if they don't like what's going on, they can leave.


Read the first page of this thread and you will understand what sentimentality is.

Quote:
At this point I think we better agree to disagree. Once people start using terms like "eventually", there is no counterproof possible. Suppose I go to Barcelona in 30 years' time, and I find that Spanish-Catalan bilingualism is as widespread as, or even more widespread than, today. Then you come along and say, well, maybe, but all this is temporary, and the diversity will, eventually, disappear.

I can't foretell the future, and I don't necessarily believe people who claim that they can.


Let me shorten the span of that word "eventually" a little bit so that you can provide counterproof -

In modern urbanized society, bilingualism is lucky to survive for more than two generations. (This applies to what you brought up about the word "WILL" as well, Salmoneus.)

Hence, talk about "vibrant bilingualism" a la Barcelona in modern society is pretty meaningless, since such "vibrancy" will quickly kill the bilingualism with it. All bilingualism, if it were to exist indefinitely, must exist under a backdrop of segregation and isolation in order to continue to exist. But that's not what we want either, is it?

Quote:
Of course, it still leaves the question of why you want to stop people speaking their own language, given that you know they're going to stop anyway. It seems to me that you are like the man who bursts into the Oval Office shouting "we must nuke the world, we must nuke the world!", and when asked why replies "because its inevitable that we will, so we might as well."


Did I ever say that I want to stop people from speaking their own languages? Does any sane government in the world seriously pursue that policy anyway?

The reason I started this "bilingualism turns into monolingualism" point is to show that vibrant bilingualism is nearly impossible to maintain in modern society, which in turn is in response to the Barcelona example that bilingualism can in fact exist in a "vibrant" state. I did not start this point as a "reason" to "stop" people from speaking minority languages.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 12:36 pm 
Boardlord
Boardlord

Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2002 8:26 pm
Posts: 3377
Location: In the den
ran not in wrote:
In modern urbanized society, bilingualism is lucky to survive for more than two generations. (This applies to what you brought up about the word "WILL" as well, Salmoneus.)

Hence, talk about "vibrant bilingualism" a la Barcelona in modern society is pretty meaningless, since such "vibrancy" will quickly kill the bilingualism with it. All bilingualism, if it were to exist indefinitely, must exist under a backdrop of segregation and isolation in order to continue to exist.


I think you're over-generalizing from two cases: America and China. Both are interesting, but they are not the only places in the world.

Economically and linguistically, the US acts as a huge homogenized unit. For its whole history, it's been a place where people eagerly toss away their former culture in hopes of sharing in the general wealth.

China is a rapidly developing nation, and as I've said before, early technological development encourages uniformization. Old (and diverse) methods are tossed, and people clamor to adopt the Latest Thing.

Europe is neither the US nor China. It industrialized long ago; it passed through the nationalistic phase long ago. What you see as China's future can't be applied to Barcelona, because it's Barcelona's past. Spain already went through the period of "As a modern nation we must all speak one language". Been there, done that, wrote the book on it. It's now in the postmodern era, where Spanish nationalism is a fading anachronism. Is it "sentimental" to want to be Catalans in a united Europe rather than having Spanish stuffed in their faces? Well, you know, Europe is rich; it can well afford "sentimentality".


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2003 3:19 pm 
The Netherlands.
Switzerland.
Parts of Lombard Italy.
Many parts of Southern Italy
Sardinia
Catalonia
The Basque area of Spain (I don't know about France)
The Romani in some parts of Eastern Europe - the parts where they aren't persecuted, mainly.
Estonia, I think, though I'm not 100% sure. (Going by the word of some Estonians here, who may be exaggerating/not fully informed)

The above have sustained bilingualism (at the very least) for over two generations.
That's modern examples - historical examples are legion.

I would also point to to resurgence of languages such as Welsh and Irish; while they are only spoken by small minorities, and while the resurgence has been far less successfull than the authorities had hoped, both languages have functioning bilingual communities, and, in the case of Welsh at least, there is real interest among the young in learning the old language.
I would also suggest that the indications from 3rd, 4th etc generation immigrant communities are hopeful, as many of their offspring are turning back to their old languages - particularly amongst Indians. At the school I went to (grammar school, middle class, mainly WASPs) several Indian boys I knew had started learning their great-grandparent's language.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 12:01 am 
Zompist:

Man, no wonder you were able to create Almea!

Salmoneus:

Most of your examples, btw, belong to zompist's "Europe" category, where wealth has made the pursuit of regional pride an affordable and attractive thing to do. In much of the rest of the world that is usually not the case.

By the way, I believe I have a better, more specific answer to your earlier question about the differences between American and Chinese perspectives.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:32 am 
Lebom
Lebom

Joined: Sun Nov 10, 2002 12:03 am
Posts: 104
Location: Tâl Katar
Salmoneus wrote:
It seems futile arguing with you Ran, for you seem to have constructed an impenetrable argument


Beggin' your pardon Sal, G, but it seems that your arguments with Ran are futile because you're not listening to what he's saying.

Ran, as someone who has had very different experiences than most of us, is bringing up what he has experienced, not theorized, experienced, as the drawbacks of linguistic diversity.

This is very interesting, since I, along with most other people here I would assume, had always assumed that linguistic diversity was a good thing. And maybe it is. I still think it is. But hiding in the box of that assumption doesn't make the problems and traumas he points out go away.

I hope that a way can be found to ameliorate that trauma, and injustice, without losing linguistic diversity. But it is not fair for us to ignore that injustice, the unfairness that forces people to struggle to learn langauges because they feel it is the only way the can keep their heads above water.

Ran wrote:
By the way, I believe I have a better, more specific answer to your earlier question about the differences between American and Chinese perspectives.


Heh.

Side tracking a little bit (well, at least a little bit) my brother just wrote:

laughingmeme.org wrote:
Monocultures 'R' Us ?

I have to say waking up to a Pine inbox full of helpful automated notes suggesting I fix my Outlook install is fucking annoying. This SoBig Windows virus going around is gleefully sticking any address it finds in the infected computers addressbook or cached html files into not only the To: field but also the From: field. I have this dream of class action lawsuit with Microsoft and Monsanto as a dual defendants accussed of being piss poor engineers who have managed to perpetuate a monoculture of unsafe, untested, poorly designed products upon the world.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:30 am 
Avisaru
Avisaru
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Joined: Mon Feb 17, 2003 11:03 am
Posts: 472
Location: displaced from Helsinki
This whole arguing has risen one question for me:

Is good income the source of ultimate happyness?


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