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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:29 am 
Lebom
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Cockroach wrote:
XinuX wrote:
I can't say I understand your logic here. Languages are dying in Australia with no teaching resources from which he could learn them to try and prevent them from dying, so he shouldn't learn a Romance language?

My anger was more directed towards the overattention given to the study of romance languages. Romance languages aren't going to go away any time soon.

Which is why someone whose interest is in communicating with someone nearby rather than trying to preserve a language in danger of dying would want to learn them.

Cockroach wrote:
XinuX wrote:
For one thing, your point is self-defeating. Unrecorded languages in Australia are dying, boo hoo

That is not the proper attitude to take with an emergency of this proportion

You broke my sentence in half. I wasn't trying to be flippant - language death is a problem, I wholeheartedly agree (although calling it an emergency sounds just a tad alarmist).

Cockroach wrote:
XinuX wrote:
[Unrecorded languages in Australia are dying, boo hoo - w]hat do you expect Beli Orao to do about it? He's sitting somewhere in I-assume-western Europe, if he cared passionately enough about the death of languages in Australia he'd be out there trying to do the job of a field linguist in recording native tribal chants and creation myths or whatever. He (and I, for that matter) want to learn languages which DO have an established body of interesting literature and ample opportunities practically on our doorstep for practice (pretty much the entire Romance-speaking population in the Old World is now contained in the EU, as far as I know).

I don't like this mindset. It seems to be the attitude which, 500 years ago, would have lead to someone like you saying something like "why should I bother learning German or Dutch or Russian or Swedish? Everyone knows Virgil wrote in Latin!".

Five hundred years ago someone wanting to get ahead in academia would be forced to learn Latin anyway because academic discourse took place in Latin as a matter of course; you'd still have to go learn French, German, Occitan, etc. to talk to other people. The two scenarios don't seem to be at all connected.

Cockroach wrote:
The point of learning a language is that it connects you, in some small way, to the community and history of the people who bore that language.

But when your motivation is talking to real living breathing people (as in the case of Beli Orao and myself) what good does knowing endangered languages do you? Knowing fifty endangered languages might get you a publication; knowing one thriving language might get you a career. You're assuming everyone has the same motivation in learning languages as yourself.

Cockroach wrote:
XinuX wrote:
For another thing, language death is relative. If every speaker of a language with a long and rich written tradition fell over dead tomorrow of a heart attack then a large body of literature would be unavailable to us until we went back and retranslated it all using published grammars and such. (Note the extreme unrealism of this scenario - large written tradition and large speakerbase tend to correlate with well-documentedness.) If a tribe in New South Wales with no written tradition and no interesting cultural or linguistic differences from their neighbours stopped speaking Wapuwarni and became monolingual in Gurnguwarrpari it seems to me that not a great deal has been lost.

This is the type of attitude I hate the most. We have very good texts of French, Italian, Arpetan, Picard, Lombard, and Aragonese. There are even Assimil courses for most of these. And yet I've seen threads and pages and whole books bemoaning the fate of Occitan or Arpetan (or Gaelic, or Sorbian, or Wymysorys). While its sad that they're in the state they're in, its not even on the same level as Makah, the language of a proud warrior people who were the only tribe to consistently and succesfuly stave off the Tlingit and Haida slave raids from the north, has no books on it in public circulation (according to Google Library), probably no books on it written after the turn of the century, and only a handful of websites containing a collection of phrases and stories, including ONE PDF from which I am currently studying it (of course, its not even written for teaching).

There are (according to Wikipedia) 1214 Makah, all living in Washington state (distance from me: approximately 4772 miles). By contrast, there are about 9.8 million speakers of Catalan (taking the distance of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, as representative, distance from me: 733 miles). If my sole interest in learning a language was communicating with other people, I'd get more out of learning Catalan than I would Makah - there's more speakers, and they're easier to get to.

Cockroach wrote:
This is a fact of the world that constantly pains me. The fact that we will never know what the Vandal armies who sacked rome spoke, or the bronze age farmers of Pre-PIE Europe, or the many, many ancestors of the hill tribes of south China that were eventually assimilated into Chinese society. I wan't to stop this from going any further. Like you, my economic situation limits me from field linguistics (for now, at least), but for now learning what languages I can and becomeing something of a living repository will have to do

I wish you every bit of luck in your endeavour. What you fail to grasp is not everyone is engaged in your same adventure - some just want to be able to talk to people.

Quote:
XinuX wrote:
So I'd rather like to know what point you were trying to make. Romance languages are overstudied, sure, but there's a heck of a lot more people to speak them with, and (in both senses of the phrase) they're a heck of a lot easier to get to.

Precisely because there's more people who can speak them. If you have two beams supporting your roof, one at 85% structural integrity and the other at 45% structural integrity, which beam does it make sense to work on first?

It's a cute analogy, but language is not a house - one beam collapsing doesn't bring down the whole edifice.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 11:47 am 
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:08 pm 
Lebom
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You can always learn a dead language.

Aramaic, Akkadian and those sort of languages are dead, but some people can speak them.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:08 pm 
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If what you want is to become a "living repository" of a language, it's not enough to just study it -- you would need to be near-fluent, or else all you would be preserving is a few broken bits. And you can't learn a language to fluency and maintain your competence in it unless you have access to other people who speak it, or at the very least a corpus of literature to read. So unless you propose to live among Makah speakers, you can't preserve their language in the same way they do.

And even if you did that, that's not even touching all the social factors that lead to language death even when there is a dedicated group of people who are struggling to preserve the language. Outsiders studying the language isn't going to change those factors at all. It isn't going to create a society where large numbers of children are learning the language and using it daily. It seems strange -- and pretty arrogant -- to learn a near-dead language all by yourself and then feel good because you've done something to help it live, when you really haven't helped at all.

If you want to study endangered languages and record them for future linguists to study, that's a different thing. It still doesn't save the language, but it prevents it from being utterly lost. But if all you do is learn it and then sit at home being happy that you've learned it, your knowledge dies with you anyway, so I'm not sure why we should be impressed by that or why we should want to emulate it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:34 pm 
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Cockroach wrote:
XinuX wrote:
I can't say I understand your logic here. Languages are dying in Australia with no teaching resources from which he could learn them to try and prevent them from dying, so he shouldn't learn a Romance language?
My anger was more directed towards the overattention given to the study of romance languages. Romance languages aren't going to go away any time soon.

This only makes sense if you think that how endangered an animal is is the only factor in deciding whether to study it. But this is obviously nonsense.
Quote:

Quote:
For one thing, your point is self-defeating. Unrecorded languages in Australia are dying, boo hoo
That is not the proper attitude to take with an emergency of this proportion

Why not?
Quote:
Quote:
What do you expect Beli Orao to do about it? He's sitting somewhere in I-assume-western Europe, if he cared passionately enough about the death of languages in Australia he'd be out there trying to do the job of a field linguist in recording native tribal chants and creation myths or whatever. He (and I, for that matter) want to learn languages which DO have an established body of interesting literature and ample opportunities practically on our doorstep for practice (pretty much the entire Romance-speaking population in the Old World is now contained in the EU, as far as I know).
I don't like this mindset. It seems to be the attitude which, 500 years ago, would have lead to someone like you saying something like "why should I bother learning German or Dutch or Russian or Swedish? Everyone knows Virgil wrote in Latin!".
So?
Quote:
The point of learning a language is that it connects you, in some small way, to the community and history of the people who bore that language.
Why is this always good?
Quote:

Quote:
For another thing, language death is relative. If every speaker of a language with a long and rich written tradition fell over dead tomorrow of a heart attack then a large body of literature would be unavailable to us until we went back and retranslated it all using published grammars and such. (Note the extreme unrealism of this scenario - large written tradition and large speakerbase tend to correlate with well-documentedness.) If a tribe in New South Wales with no written tradition and no interesting cultural or linguistic differences from their neighbours stopped speaking Wapuwarni and became monolingual in Gurnguwarrpari it seems to me that not a great deal has been lost.
This is the type of attitude I hate the most. We have very good texts of French, Italian, Arpetan, Picard, Lombard, and Aragonese. There are even Assimil courses for most of these. And yet I've seen threads and pages and whole books bemoaning the fate of Occitan or Arpetan (or Gaelic, or Sorbian, or Wymysorys). While its sad that they're in the state they're in, its not even on the same level as Makah, the language of a proud warrior people who were the only tribe to consistently and succesfuly stave off the Tlingit and Haida slave raids from the north, has no books on it in public circulation (according to Google Library), probably no books on it written after the turn of the century, and only a handful of websites containing a collection of phrases and stories, including ONE PDF from which I am currently studying it (of course, its not even written for teaching).


But I am not Makah. I will never be Makah. Or at least, becoming Makah would involve completely changing every facet of my life. I have no connexion to the Makah either diachronic or synchronic. English? It's my mother tongue. Irish? The language of my maternal linneage. Cumbrian dialect? My father grew up with it. French, German, Latin, Greek? All four essential ingredients in the European culture of which I am an inheritor. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Polish... the languages of sibling nations whose rich reflections of my own culture will enhance my own identity.

Makah? It's nothing to do with me. Not only will I never BE Makah, I'll never even meet any Makah. Their cultural tradition is a tradition with which I have no contact whatsoever. Attempting to inveigle myself into that tradition would not only be pointless from my point of view, and tantamount to pointless from their point of view (I'm not going to convince many other Londoners to learn Makah, after all), but would also be of debateable legitimacy.

So sure, I'm in favour of endangered languages being revitalised, by persuading their constituencies to re-embrace them, but let's not pretend that I'm a part of that constituency.

Quote:
This is a fact of the world that constantly pains me. The fact that we will never know what the Vandal armies who sacked rome spoke, or the bronze age farmers of Pre-PIE Europe, or the many, many ancestors of the hill tribes of south China that were eventually assimilated into Chinese society. I wan't to stop this from going any further. Like you, my economic situation limits me from field linguistics (for now, at least), but for now learning what languages I can and becomeing something of a living repository will have to do

If that's what you want to devote your life to, fine - although there are more important things, I think. But why should any of us do likewise?
Quote:
Quote:
So I'd rather like to know what point you were trying to make. Romance languages are overstudied, sure, but there's a heck of a lot more people to speak them with, and (in both senses of the phrase) they're a heck of a lot easier to get to.
Precisely because there's more people who can speak them. If you have two beams supporting your roof, one at 85% structural integrity and the other at 45% structural integrity, which beam does it make sense to work on first?

Depends how quickly you can fix them. If you can just bolt on some reinforcements in five minutes, sure, prop up the weak one. But if it's going to take a few years of careful labour before you start seeing results, then you should shore up the strong one to 100%, because the 45% one's going whatever you do, and by the time you've admitted failure on it, the 85% one will be down and 45%, and there won't be anything you can do for either.

It also depends, of course, on the OTHER properties of the beams. If the stronger beam has great sentimental value and the weak one you don't care about, of course concentrate on the strong one. Likewise, if the strong one is holding up the important bit of your roof, and the weak one's only holding up your porch.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:57 pm 
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Not to split your split, but did you see the Romanian resources I recommended?

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 1:20 pm 
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XinuX, have you changed your handle? You're from before me but I don't recall you from before.

Salmoneus wrote:
Quote:
The point of learning a language is that it connects you, in some small way, to the community and history of the people who bore that language.
Why is this always good?
Quote:

Quote:
For another thing, language death is relative. If every speaker of a language with a long and rich written tradition fell over dead tomorrow of a heart attack then a large body of literature would be unavailable to us until we went back and retranslated it all using published grammars and such. (Note the extreme unrealism of this scenario - large written tradition and large speakerbase tend to correlate with well-documentedness.) If a tribe in New South Wales with no written tradition and no interesting cultural or linguistic differences from their neighbours stopped speaking Wapuwarni and became monolingual in Gurnguwarrpari it seems to me that not a great deal has been lost.
This is the type of attitude I hate the most. We have very good texts of French, Italian, Arpetan, Picard, Lombard, and Aragonese. There are even Assimil courses for most of these. And yet I've seen threads and pages and whole books bemoaning the fate of Occitan or Arpetan (or Gaelic, or Sorbian, or Wymysorys). While its sad that they're in the state they're in, its not even on the same level as Makah, the language of a proud warrior people who were the only tribe to consistently and succesfuly stave off the Tlingit and Haida slave raids from the north, has no books on it in public circulation (according to Google Library), probably no books on it written after the turn of the century, and only a handful of websites containing a collection of phrases and stories, including ONE PDF from which I am currently studying it (of course, its not even written for teaching).


But I am not Makah. I will never be Makah. Or at least, becoming Makah would involve completely changing every facet of my life. I have no connexion to the Makah either diachronic or synchronic. English? It's my mother tongue. Irish? The language of my maternal linneage. Cumbrian dialect? My father grew up with it. French, German, Latin, Greek? All four essential ingredients in the European culture of which I am an inheritor. Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Polish... the languages of sibling nations whose rich reflections of my own culture will enhance my own identity.

Makah? It's nothing to do with me. Not only will I never BE Makah, I'll never even meet any Makah. Their cultural tradition is a tradition with which I have no contact whatsoever. Attempting to inveigle myself into that tradition would not only be pointless from my point of view, and tantamount to pointless from their point of view (I'm not going to convince many other Londoners to learn Makah, after all), but would also be of debateable legitimacy.

So sure, I'm in favour of endangered languages being revitalised, by persuading their constituencies to re-embrace them, but let's not pretend that I'm a part of that constituency.

Both of you seem to be equally short-sighted and not understanding that different folks learn languages for different reasons. I couldn't care less about Cockroach or Sal's motivation.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:05 pm 
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I've no idea why you think that's got anything to do with what I said. I was making the point that not everyone shared Cockroach's reasons for learning languages. I wasn't sharing my own motivation - I'm not learning a language. At least, not properly, though I'm sporadically trying to grab back a bit of German.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:09 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
I've no idea why you think that's got anything to do with what I said. I was making the point that not everyone shared Cockroach's reasons for learning languages. I wasn't sharing my own motivation - I'm not learning a language. At least, not properly, though I'm sporadically trying to grab back a bit of German.

But that's basically the point Io is making, though he attributed the potential motivations that you're talking about to you. Like you say, not everyone shares the same motivation for learning a language, and the different motivations make different people prioritize different kinds of languages.

This seems like something that's not that productive to argue about, as it's arguing about personal motivations. Or at least that seems to be what it's boiling down to.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 2:34 pm 
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roninbodhisattva wrote:
But that's basically the point Io is making


Which was the point Salmoneus was making in the first place. At least that was my read.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 5:38 pm 
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Yeah, the thesis of what I was saying in response to Cockroach was that the argument was at crossed purposes because we're not learning languages for the same reasons.

ayyub wrote:
Not to split your split, but did you see the Romanian resources I recommended?
Yes, the PDF is pretty useful. Might hop onto IRC in the hope of finding people to practice with.

Io wrote:
XinuX, have you changed your handle? You're from before me but I don't recall you from before.
No, I'm just a chronic absentee.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 6:53 pm 
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I remember trying to read David Crystal's book on language death and endangered languages. The problem was that at my absolute best I can barely care about language death in a detached intellectual way - for whatever reason, I'm just incapable of feeling that it's an emergency. I don't want to say that people who think it is an emergency are wrong (though what you're doing conlanging in the face of such a global tragedy I'd like to know).

I guess I just don't see how the death of a language I don't speak hurts me. I'd love to hear how I'm wrong, though.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:55 pm 
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I thought it wasn't that long ago that we had a pretty meaty thread about language death and why/whether it matters, but I can't find it now, so maybe it was pruned.

From a linguistics perspective, language death obviously matters because if a language dies before it is investigated, we lose all information about it. Our knowledge of how human languages work is only as good as our data, and a lost language is a lost data point.

Whether language death "matters" aside from that is a much trickier question. Obviously it matters to some people for highly personal reasons -- it's their own language and they want it to survive. There are also people who believe that the entire human race loses something important when any language goes extinct, but I'm not sure I buy that position, so I'll leave it to someone who does believe in it to explain.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:18 pm 
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Quote:
My anger was more directed towards the overattention given to the study of romance languages. Romance languages aren't going to go away any time soon.

Newflash: Most people don't like learning languages and linguistics just for fun, but instead want to use them to communicate with others. Romance languages have a much larger pool of speakers and material/literature than dying languages do, so the choice is obvious.

Quote:
I wan't to stop this from going any further.

Why do you think diversity is inherently good and assimilation is inherently bad?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2010 10:38 pm 
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Kai_DaiGoji wrote:
I remember trying to read David Crystal's book on language death and endangered languages. The problem was that at my absolute best I can barely care about language death in a detached intellectual way - for whatever reason, I'm just incapable of feeling that it's an emergency. I don't want to say that people who think it is an emergency are wrong (though what you're doing conlanging in the face of such a global tragedy I'd like to know).

I guess I just don't see how the death of a language I don't speak hurts me. I'd love to hear how I'm wrong, though.


I'll be using a bad word, but I don't intend to insult you with it, but that's being pretty much egoist.

It's not a bad thing. We live and die, groups appear and disappear, as I have alluded to in another thread. There were many languages before us, and there will be even more after. There's no need to consider much about others, at the first level.

However, like all things on this planet, diversity is its own garantee. The more diverse we are, the more answers we can bring to a given issue, which makes us more quickly adaptable if need be. While I'm not sure distinct languages is a evolutionary advantage of itself, the fact that it shows us our divisions and how we group and maintains a certain diversity might be a right way to sense the emergency in dying languages. That's how I think it's becoming urgent. You don't save a language for its own sake (unless you're a linguist, as others pointed out), but I would save it for the sake of the group it might maintain.

Imagine the French language, which I speak. But I don't speak it like a Hex-lander. Never ever call me "French". I'm not, and I'm quite happy I don't live in Hex-land. Very much, and some Hex-landers actually agree. And the Joual division that it brings is a mark of that distinction. While not essential, it's an easy way to spot one's own within a crowd. So I'll be able to maintain a community and a distinction with them, as I wish. More obscur and isolated languages have the same effect, with more differences.

Ultimately, it's "mostly" superficial. I could be part of X-group if I spoke another language with the members of X-group. But the specific language makes it possible for me to identify with them, and from there, form a distinct, autonomous and, most importantly, different community, which will increase diversity, which will give some form of garantee to survive.

(I do, however, loathe people that want to maintain a language for the sake of it without any social project behind. It's all fun to have your poor natives speak language Whatever, if you don't give them any means to insure their lives, you'll just create a poor gettho from which its members won't be able to get out, unless they do exactly what you don't want them to do, abandon their ancestral language.

And rich doesn't mean Occidental here; I'd be happy to see my neighboring Attikamekw going back to their traditionnal hunter-gatherer lifestyle, as they were happy and healthy and emotionally rich that way. Rich means "living a worthy and fulfilling life".)

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:01 am 
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Yiuel, why does this identiy matter *SO* much to you? Why do you want so badly to be distinct, different, and to be able to identify your own within a crowd?

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:21 am 
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Izo wrote:
XinuX wrote:
[...] there are about 9.8 million speakers of Catalan (taking the distance of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, as representative, distance from me: 733 miles). If my sole interest in learning a language was communicating with other people, I'd get more out of learning Catalan than I would Makah - there's more speakers, and they're easier to get to.

Yep. And here youse have one to talk to him. :mrgreen:

It probably shouldn't bother me, and it's not a "standard" word anyway, but it really should be "yous". This should be obvious because it's morphologically plural. It's even got an actual plural morpheme on it for christ's sake.

(also it's more obvious that it doesn't rhyme with mouse)


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:22 am 
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finlay wrote:
Izo wrote:
XinuX wrote:
[...] there are about 9.8 million speakers of Catalan (taking the distance of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, as representative, distance from me: 733 miles). If my sole interest in learning a language was communicating with other people, I'd get more out of learning Catalan than I would Makah - there's more speakers, and they're easier to get to.

Yep. And here youse have one to talk to him. :mrgreen:

It probably shouldn't bother me, and it's not a "standard" word anyway, but it really should be "yous". This should be obvious because it's morphologically plural. It's even got an actual plural morpheme on it for christ's sake.

(also it's more obvious that it doesn't rhyme with mouse)

There's a mouse louse about this house.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:27 am 
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Finlay, you're turning pedantically bitter about spelling and shit, next thing we know your username will be capitalised! :P

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 4:54 am 
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finlay wrote:
Izo wrote:
XinuX wrote:
[...] there are about 9.8 million speakers of Catalan (taking the distance of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, as representative, distance from me: 733 miles). If my sole interest in learning a language was communicating with other people, I'd get more out of learning Catalan than I would Makah - there's more speakers, and they're easier to get to.

Yep. And here youse have one to talk to him. :mrgreen:

It probably shouldn't bother me, and it's not a "standard" word anyway, but it really should be "yous". This should be obvious because it's morphologically plural. It's even got an actual plural morpheme on it for christ's sake.

(also it's more obvious that it doesn't rhyme with mouse)

I remember that we touched the you/youse/yous/you all/y'all... thing a few years ago in this forum. We talked a lot about it and the best forms of the pronoun are obvious to me, but I want to use yous(e) instead of the other forms; I find youse more orthographically appealing than yous. Only to show that in my case the use of that form is a conscious election, not a mistake.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 6:16 am 
Avisaru
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Io wrote:
Yiuel, why does this identiy matter *SO* much to you? Why do you want so badly to be distinct, different, and to be able to identify your own within a crowd?


Is that all you retain of what I said?

There are many reasons why I would want to be different from some other people. I don't want to share the "conservative" views of other people, for one. I'd like to see a city working like how Montreal was 100 years ago (with distinct, autonomous and rich English and French neighborhoods), which again posits differences with some people who don't want to ever see that. Basically, being different is, to me, try something else. Is there anything wrong with wanting something else.

As for being distinct and being able to identify your own within a crowd, it's to be able to live those differences with them, simply.

Identity itself (especially a specific) isn't important, you build yourself one with your peers anyway. But you might want to build a community relationship with a community you deem worthy of your participation. I might part ways with Quebec (and, more broadly, Canada) in the near future. I'll be part of other groups, relating and having fun and living a life with them. I also happen to value relationships a lot, especially those of mutually benefitting kind, which doesn't hurt. That is, what I find important is not one's own identity, but one's relationships.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:27 am 
Sanci
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Yiuel wrote:
I'll be using a bad word, but I don't intend to insult you with it, but that's being pretty much egoist.

I've been called worse. :mrgreen:
My problem is, I already have a cultural identity, coming from a particular place and group of people and way of talking. I understand preventing language death from a scientific curiosity point of view, I just can't feel that much passion for it.

I think part of my problem is also part of the reason I'm a fraud on this board - I'm too fascinated by English. Everytime I think I'll start conlanging (or studying Mohawk, or even Russian or Spanish for heaven's sake) I just fall in love with English again. Usually because I just started rereading David Foster Wallace.

Finally, I will say that the desire to preserve a culture almost inevitably creates a zombie culture. For example, you said you'd be happy if the Attikamekw went back to their hunter gatherer lifestyle (and presumably, so would they - not trying to contradict you.) But then, their culture stops being a dynamic, living culture that they can change. It is now pressed between panes of glass in a museum - they are forever constrained by "traditional Attikamekw culture" and can't change things without abandoning everything that makes them Attikamekw. My ancestors were once hunter gatherers, as were yours, but they were free to innovate, or not, as they chose. Most groups that are hunter-gatherers now don't have that choice - instead they have the choice between being Attikamekw, or becoming white. Which, for the children, means the choice between learning Attikamekw and hunting, or learning English and driving cars, all of which only marginalizes the Attikamekw more, makes them more extreme, their language more on the brink of death.

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TomHChappell wrote:
I don't know if that answers your question; is English a natlang?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 10:57 am 
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Kai_DaiGoji wrote:
I think part of my problem is also part of the reason I'm a fraud on this board - I'm too fascinated by English. Everytime I think I'll start conlanging (or studying Mohawk, or even Russian or Spanish for heaven's sake) I just fall in love with English again. Usually because I just started rereading David Foster Wallace.
Make an English-based conlang, but make it good. It would be awesome, and more unique than something made with the idea "no! english bad! avoid english influence!!!!"

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The merger is between /8/ and /9/, merging into /8/. Seeing as they're just one number apart, that's not too strange.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2010 11:47 am 
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Izo wrote:
XinuX wrote:
[...] there are about 9.8 million speakers of Catalan (taking the distance of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia, as representative, distance from me: 733 miles). If my sole interest in learning a language was communicating with other people, I'd get more out of learning Catalan than I would Makah - there's more speakers, and they're easier to get to.

Yep. And here youse have one to talk to him. :mrgreen:


Indeed, but from the POV of practical communication it would be pointless, since it's clear from your posts that you have a near-native (at least) knowledge of English.

From the POV of a native English speaker there is really no point in learning another language for communication, unless you expect to find yourself in some rather odd and out of the way part of the world (parts of the former USSR? Mongolia? Remote part of S. America? New Guinea Highlands?) Everywhere else the 'natives' will not only be able, but will generally insist on speaking English.

The only reason for English speakers to learn languages are (a) cultural, e.g. connecting with your ancestors, or the people where you now happen to live, or maybe where you'd like to go and live, and (b) interest. Clearly, strange and exotic languages (many of which are now endangered) are interesting and provide many insights into how language functions, whereas romance langs are boring! boring! boring! :evil:

(OK, blame it all on School French which came close to killing forever my inate interest in languages).

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:28 am 
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Kai_DaiGoji wrote:
Finally, I will say that the desire to preserve a culture almost inevitably creates a zombie culture. For example, you said you'd be happy if the Attikamekw went back to their hunter gatherer lifestyle (and presumably, so would they - not trying to contradict you.) But then, their culture stops being a dynamic, living culture that they can change. It is now pressed between panes of glass in a museum - they are forever constrained by "traditional Attikamekw culture" and can't change things without abandoning everything that makes them Attikamekw.
Course their culture can still change. It's just not to be lost. It can change in slightly more subtle ways, maybe slower and more gradually. When people want to preserve Lezgian, they don't mean they're rejecting syncope; they just mean for it to continue existing.

marconatrix wrote:
Indeed, but from the POV of practical communication it would be pointless, since it's clear from your posts that you have a near-native (at least) knowledge of English.
I think the point is more that you would be able to communicate with the speaker in order to learn the language, something which is not quite so easy if you don't have contact with any native speaker.

marconatrix wrote:
From the POV of a native English speaker there is really no point in learning another language for communication, unless you expect to find yourself in some rather odd and out of the way part of the world
Well I've met many people who speak very little English. My German grandmother for example. And a fair many people in Reunion. And that's with me having only been to one place (India (and that wasn't for long)) outside the EU.


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