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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Fallacy
by rexstuff on Sun 25th Oct 2009 17:28 UTC
rexstuff
Member since:
2007-04-06

It's a very interesting read, Thom, but I feel I have to point out a fallacy in your original reasoning. As you state:

"Which type of person has more confidence in the strength and resilience of his culture and language - someone who feels threatened by outside influences, or someone who doesn't?


You might need to make a few 180s in your brain, but the answer is someone who doesn't.
"

Except that someone who doesn't may not feel threatened by outside influences simply not because of the confidence he or she has in the language and culture, but because he or she does not care. Or, he or she actually sees these outside influences as a good thing.

None of this is to say that Thom is in any way wrong, just that because someone doesn't feel threatened by outside influences, doesn't mean that he or she actually has confidence in the resilience of the his or her language or culture.

In any case, the rise and fall of global languages is a very fascinating topic, to me. I read one excellent article that I was hoping I could share, but can't find it. Basically the main point is that English has far and away secured its position as the global lingua franca. That the next best contender, in a distant second, is actually French.

Perhaps this is my own ethno-centric view speaking, but I tend to see this as more of a good thing than a bad thing. For all its faults, having English as a global language is better than having no standard language at all. "A bad standard is better than no standard" and all that. I only hope that on its way up, not too many smaller languages and cultures have to die. We all lose something when that happens.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Fallacy
by frajo on Sun 25th Oct 2009 19:24 in reply to "Fallacy"
frajo Member since:
2007-06-29

In any case, the rise and fall of global languages is a very fascinating topic, to me.

Especially regarding the fall of the Latin language and the staying alive of the Greek language.

Basically the main point is that English has far and away secured its position as the global lingua franca.

For the foreseeable future. The same was said of Latin in times of the Imperium Romanum.

That the next best contender, in a distant second, is actually French.

French has had its time - two centuries ago. Nowadays the second western lingua franca is Spanish. And there are vast regions on this planet where western languages are utterly irrelevant.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Fallacy
by rexstuff on Sun 25th Oct 2009 21:40 in reply to "RE: Fallacy"
rexstuff Member since:
2007-04-06

For the foreseeable future. The same was said of Latin in times of the Imperium Romanum.


True. But I think this is different. English has penetrated too deeply into our global society, particularly with regards to technology.

I point to the apocryphal story regarding Linus and his kernel. In an interview, he was asked why he commented the code in English, as opposed to his native Finnish(?). He was reportedly a little surprised by the question, and claimed that it never even occurred to him to do otherwise.

English has the richest technical vocabulary. For instance, (almost) every programming language is based in some form on English, even ones developed in non-English countries. Even were the US to implode tomorrow, that sort of momentum would be difficult to overcome.

There is a connected-ness today that didn't exist in the Roman times. Everyone is communicating instantly, all the time. And when it's across linguistic borders, the common language is almost always English. And, of course, Latin was only supreme within the bounds of the Empire, whereas English is truly Global.

I suppose we could come with some pretty extreme scenarios where English falls from its perch to be replaced by another, but I think we're past the tipping point - English will continue to grow as the dominant language, and eventually will become the acknowledged language of the Human Race.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Fallacy
by unclefester on Mon 26th Oct 2009 12:06 in reply to "RE: Fallacy"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Rome was only ever a regional power with almost no influence outside the Mediterranean region.

There is nowhere in the world where English is irrelevant. Even some of the most isolated villages in the world will have at least one English speaker. English is spoken by a significant portion of the population in almost every country. Around 2.4 billion people speak English as their first, second or third language.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_English-speaking_...

Reply Parent Score: 3