Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 29th Aug 2006 17:49 UTC, submitted by igalmarino
Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu "Like cold fusion or a painless weight-loss plan, a user-friendly version of Linux remains elusive. But developers are getting closer with Ubuntu - a free, Linux-based operating system that appeared in October 2004 and is winning over waves of converts, including high-profile geeks like Cory Doctorow."
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Folks, bear with me, another weird and wonderful analogy coming on...:)

I think it's rather like this. I grew up learning a mother tongue, English. Like any mother tongue, you learn it organically for the most part - you don't learn it by being a grammarian at the age of 2.

later on, you may get the chance to learn another language. You may have an exceptionally good experience with the second language, and you will be hungry to learn more, and will go easy on yourself while you are still making mistakes because you like the second language and the culture that goes with it. You may not be a grammarian or a linguist but you give it your best shot.

Other people are linguists, they are natural linguists, you show them an indirect dative, and they go, yup, got that, what's next?

Not all languages are equal, some languages might be a lot more logical or internally consistent than English from a certain perspective. But English is my mother tongue, and there's a certain facility I have with it, even though I couldn't parse a sentence if asked on the spot.

You were able to solve some of these problems since you are obviously a computer grammarian. You can unpick the syntax and put the meaning back together again. Good for you.

But others are necessarily or perforce ordinary windows speakers. They get by because that's what they learned first. They may even speak this language incorrectly but they are understood. When they come to Linux, they try to apply their limited explicit understanding of their own language. Some get it immediately, some don't, some enjoy the experience, some hate it, and go back to Windows-speak, because they can still use it to order coffee, converse with friends, and generally be understood by other speakers of the same language.

The moral? If you are a teacher of a foreign, minority language, you will get far by giving beginners a good and positive experience of your language. You start with say, High German, not Swabian. You do not have to turn your own language into English, it will retain its own nature.

But you will get nowhere fast if you start by raising your voice at the beginner in your own language to state they are inconsiderate, lazy and ignorant for not realizing the obviously superior aspects of the language to be learnt.

Linux is a minority language with a thousand dialects (distros).

What's the best way to help others be grammarians in Linux, do you think?

PS. I have a smattering of Vector, Yoper and have recently started to learn Ubuntu (again). I probably wouldn't go hungry in PCBSD.

Edited 2006-08-30 06:49

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