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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Chicken Charlie BS: Minority languages (59* d) RE: BS: Minority languages 15 Jun 01

IMO, there are two sides to this. On the one hand, there are "minority" languages and there are "minority" languages. I get truly bored with my fellow Americans frequently being so arrogant; there are too many stories of Mexican kids punished for speaking Spanish in school, etc. If a language has any kind of literature, it should be treated with respect.

On the other hand: If you accept the assumption that having the United States continue in its present form rather than to be split and "Balkanized," then there has to be a cultural identity shared by all citizens, and unfortunately, Switzerland and Belgium notwithstanding, it would seem to be past the limits of most Anglophone Americans to be bilingual. If we don't maintain a common language, we will not have a common culture, and we will not really be "one nation." The dissolution of the USA (or the UK?) into several cultural enclaves would not be all good, despite what the many "nativists" would argue.

Second--If we assume that technical information (medical info., scientific info., etc.) is helpful to mankind, we set ourselves a horrendous task if we insist on translating it into every language spoken in every little enclave in the Third World. To use Bible translators as an example--there are folks out there dedicated to translating Holy Writ into every known language so nobody has to change. I think the down side of that is that if you teach someone to read in a language no one else speaks, you cut him/her off from a much bigger world. I frankly think that those people ought to be taught whichever major European or Asian language makes most sense for their region; they would then have access to much more info than if they remain as they are.

I would not advocate an "English only" world, but perhaps we could do with as few as a dozen or so major languages which ought to really be promoted wherever possible. I think Mario Pei figured eleven languages cover the "developed" world.


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