Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sun 25th Oct 2009 12:51 UTC
Editorial A couple of years ago, a professor at my university had a very interesting thought exchange with the class I was in. We were a small group, and I knew most of them, they were my friends. Anyway, we had a talk about language purism - not an unimportant subject if you study English in The Netherlands.
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Oversimplifying and Overreaching
by sdhays on Tue 27th Oct 2009 02:37 UTC
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Thom, I normally enjoy the stuff you write about, but I think this is pretty weak. The issue with languages is actually a lot more complex than just people feeling "un-confident" regarding their own culture. Minority cultures do get snuffed out without active labor to preserve them. The Welsh language nearly died (and the druids are dead), and only recently due to an active effort in Wales to bring the language back has it staved off the grim reaper for awhile longer. I think it's great that you feel that Dutch has nothing to fear from other languages and cultures, but let me ask you a question: why are you so confident?

If I could show you in my crystal ball that in 100 years, less than 1% of the population of the Netherlands will speak Dutch (not a real prediction, just a thought experiment), and the differences between mainstream "Dutch" culture and mainstream "American" culture (or German culture or French culture or, perhaps a little closer to home, Turkish culture) had become about on par as the differences between Chicago culture and New York: basically the same thing, but different localities, would that make you feel less "confident"? I'm asking because I'm guessing that a lot of your confidence comes from not caring all that much, when it really comes down to it (and I don't mean you don't care at all, I just mean that if your culture disappeared and it was something American-like, you might mourn, but you'd move on). Whereas this would be devastating to other people, so they are much more active in protecting their culture from threats, real or perceived.

I'm not writing to say that the purists are right (or that you're a traitor to your culture), just that boiling down their concerns to "un-confidence" is actually oversimplifying things. And when you map that to a soulless corporation, you're just looking for stuff to generate comments of people projecting their own preconceived notions and hoping that they've finally, ONCE AND FOR ALL, proven that their opinion == truth. And kudos for a job well done or that score ;-)

Fanboys tend to be pretty silly, whether they're Apple fanboys or Microsoft fanboys or Linux is teh Awesome fanboys. I get that you want to tweak the Apple ones. But I don't think it's very enlightening to to say that Apple itself lacks confidence because it's pursuing Psystar; it's their business model and they're going to defend it. Maybe they're being short-sighted, maybe consumers are being hurt, but, once again, reducing it all down to "confidence in their product" is oversimplifying quite a bit.

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