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zompist bboard • View topic - Linguistic Diversity

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 9:28 am 


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 11:42 am 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:04 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2003 1:08 pm 
Niš
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And then I find it a strange story that there are more than 10 primary schools in Rotterdam alone where the children are taught English as a mother tongue in addition to Dutch.
On the other hand, how likely will such a project succeed? If the pupils need to talk English to the teacher, but can only talk Dutch to children from other schools, to their parents, and to almost everyone else, at least until they are about twelve and start watching subtitled TV programmes.

And this summer vacation I was in Germany staying with a friend, and I have gone to his school for one day, and I saw their English class. Their level was absolutely horrible, I don't say my English is good, but their accent was like in Allo Allo and I have seen all kinds of spelling and syntax mistakes. And that while they were almost all 16 or 17!

I think the point here is that there are enough Germans to keep the language alive; if you are German, you do not need to know any other language to "survive", almost all movies are dubbed, there is a German Linux Magazine, there are lots of original German movies, there are lots of German music and I can go on.

In the Netherlands things are a little bit different, you are almost literally bombed with English on TV and in ads and on universities; I can understand that it is impractical to translate all scientific books and magazines to Dutch, but with TV and ads it is just and only that English is "cool" in the Netherlands - I guess at least 3 out of 4 pupils from my class has never have to use English anywhere within the Netherlands.

And for me, I want to learn German really well, because I would really like to go to Germany after I finish school or so, making the use of English to read computer books and webpages.

And with that internet, did you know that there are estimations that Chinese will be the most used language on the Internet in 2007? This because so many people in China get internet access and thus can chat, email, use fora and can make webpages.

EDIT: what would the world be boring if everyone spoke English! In some cases it would be easy, but I think it would be really really boring.
Not to mention that the more speakers English has, the less chance on a spelling reform there is, and wouldn't that be a bad thing? ;-)


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Boardlord
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Lebom
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2003 4:59 am 
I think an authentic native perspective is missing from this debate; here, a Cheyenne talks about preserving his language. (The article contains a whiff of the brand of humor that Indians are so famous for.)

Preserving the Cheyenne Language
By Richard E. Littlebear

Cheyenne speakers are uneasy about losing our language. They say, “It’s scary” when asked about it. The loss is scary because most do not realize we are losing the living essence of our identity as Cheyennes. We assumed Cheyenne would be here forever. The possibility of its death has given us a jolt of reality.

If the death of languages were more noticeable, then perhaps there would be massive efforts to save them. For instance, if language death was like road kill, we could say, “A lot of complex syllables are getting run over. Look all those glottal stops rotting by the roadside. Those silent vowels sure stink when they die.” But the dying is subtle and complicated.

Our language started dying with our first European contact and would now be complete if it weren’t for Cheyenne efforts at strengthening it. We must use every strategy to save our language while contending with English.

Yet, we must also promote English because it gives us physical sustenance and enables us to work in the present society; whereas Cheyenne provides us with spiritual sustenance, positively reinforces our identity, and lets us commune with all that we hold sacred. Both languages are useful in their unique ways and are equally important to us.

We Cheyenne have not been blameless in the loss of our language. Elders have ridiculed and over-corrected and thus rendered mute those who aspired to speak Cheyenne. Parents have not valued Cheyenne enough to teach their children and grandchildren. We have belittled efforts to strengthen the language while not offering to help.

To strengthen our language on our Reservation, this is what we do: offer oral language classes, copy and implement successful oral language programs, offer courses in linguistics for those who want to read and write, offer immersion schools or classes, and offer a standardized oral language curriculum to all of the local K-12 schools. We must make tribal language the official language of the people and reservation by tribal council ordnance and create a certification process for our own language teachers; offer a language-speaking group for people to hear the language; begin a word coinage program, which will bring the language up to date; sponsor a summer language immersion camp; create and standardize a writing system. These are stratagems we are using.

Any language, when not used, assumes a momentary, gossamer presence, and then it disappears. We must use them or lose them. If we don’t do anything to strengthen them, our languages will silently waft with butterfly elusiveness on the winds of the world and their melodic sounds will be lost forever.

It is the charge of this older generation of Cheyenne speakers to do everything to strengthen it. It sounds trite, but it will only die once.

Richard E. Littlebear is Vice President for Cultural Studies at Dull Knife Memorial College in Lame Deer, Montana


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Lebom
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Lebom
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Smeric
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Smeric
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Smeric
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2004 1:04 pm 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 07, 2004 4:08 pm 
Sanci
Sanci

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A few remarks:

1. Linguistic diversity is terrible for people who can't learn foreign languages for some reason. Just imagine how a Hmong monolingual must feel in the USA... In Mauritius, Creole monolinguals can't read newspapers or books and are in fact barred from clerical jobs, their language having no official status.

2. Linguistic diversity is a loss of time and energy. For example: the EU, where parliamentary debates in a dozen languages are an interpreter's nightmare.

3. Linguistic diversity hinders political unity. For example: Europe, again.

A single language (preferably English, which is already quite widespread) should be taught to all the schoolchildren of the world, along with their mother tongue. Administrative, legal and commercial documents should be bilingual.

I know that in the long run some languages and cultures would disappear, but IMO it would be a minor inconvenience.

I don't think that the existence of a common auxiliary language for all the nations of the world would make this planet more peaceful. But it would make access to information easier, and therefore favor commerce and the emergence of a "unified planetary lowest common cultural denominator" (whatever that would be in practice - something similar to what we have on the zbb, perhaps). It would make migrations easier, and this aspect alone would have important consequences - for instance, it would accelerate the disappearance of minor languages.

There are American-style shopping malls even in non-English-speaking countries. And Britney Spears albums are bought all over the world by people who can't understand the lyrics. I don't think that shopping malls and certain musical styles would be necessary consequences of English as an international auxiliary language. The spread of those cultural traits has other causes.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:47 am 
Sanci
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Legros: That's a good point. Japanese anime is in fashion all over the world, even though not everyone understands Japanese. Perhaps the status of English as a lingua franca is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the Westernization of the world.

An argument for linguistic diversity that's often brought up, is that the structure and vocabulary of a language contain within them an entire "world view" which may turn out to be valuable. It sounds pretty sentimental, but come think about it, some thoughts are easier to express in some languages than others, and this can affect my decision on what to say at a given time. There's a real impact on communication...


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 9:26 am 
Smeric
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Well, if this makes you feel any better, English has a lot of loanwords. English is like a monster among languages ... it goes around eating up all the other languages and adopting their vocabulary, and to a lesser extent their grammatical and phonological features. English just keeps growing and growing with no end in sight. I would prefer to see Lojban or some other logical language make it to the top, because I think they are more efficient, but otherwise I agree with what Legros said ... except that I think that in the future there should be only one language in the world at all, and all others should be abandoned.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 10:16 am 
Sanci
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I remember a short sci-fi story where studying obscure languages and conlanging was something everyone did and fashions changed like clothing now, and everyone talked in different languages all the time... I can't remember the author or title now, though, it was a few years ago.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 11:53 am 
Sanci
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Mercator: Well, every language incorporates loan words, and I don't see loan words going into English faster than they go into, say, Chinese.

If you ask me to choose an international language, I'll favour a pidgin such as Chinook Jargon.

I'm not sure about ease of access to information, but I prefer access to a good life. :mrgreen:


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Sanci
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Smeric
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:14 pm 
Sanci
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:21 pm 
Smeric
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2004 10:06 pm 
Sanci
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Legros: Though I have tons of information at my disposal, I'm not sure how much they contribute towards my freedom. Also, doctrellor and Eddy certainly aren't feeling very free... :|

Eddy: Stop taking other people's words out of context. You can `prove' anything you want by just grabbing a fragment of people's words, but I'll be unimpressed.

Saying logical languages "take away your ability to feel emotions" clearly means you have a super-weak understanding of logic. It's perfectly possible to say "I am angry" in a logical language; in standard predicate logic notation, it can be expressed as, say, Angry(I). If the phrase for "I am angry" is used often enough, it can become a stereotyped attitudinal.

My main objection to Lojban, and also to English, is that they have too many rules and enforce too much structure.

(Now that gives me an idea for a conlang based on the Chinook Jargon -- there's already , I know.)


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