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Old 04-26-2008, 12:00 PM   #1
Sabretooth
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A Matter of Language

A recent political spat in my city attracted my attention as it was an issue I was pretty divided into.

India, which consists of several different cultures and languages has its economical capital at Mumbai. Mumbai is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, home of the Marathi (or Maharashtrian) people (that's me!).

Mumbai is a diverse city - even though it's the home of the Marathi, a huge population consists of North Indians, who have mass-immigrated over the decades due to the pocket-filler that Mumbai is. Other cultures, such as the South Indians or Gujuratis have adapted to the Mumbai life, but the MNS (article above) alleges that these North Indians don't - they speak in their own dialect (a variant of Hindi, as opposed to Marathi), among other things.

The trick here is, which rule gets overriden and why - the local language (which is the official language of Maharashtra) or the National Language, Hindi. And this poses a bigger question.

English has served as the unification language for the world. We have people from all sorts of places here - Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Brazil, Portugal and God knows where else. English is the language that is tying all of us together.

As our generation progresses and the future ones as well, we learn that they begin to rely on international communication more and more, i.e. there is a growing emphasis on the English language (as opposed to their first language). What does this signify?

Local languages will die and be replaced by English. A linguist recently published an interesting report about how in the future, most of the world's languages would have been wiped out and replaced by dialects of English, along with one International English for overseas communication.

What do you think of this? Is it good that there is a singular, understandable language for all, or do you lament the dying of some of the world's most beautiful and rich languages?


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Old 04-26-2008, 12:43 PM   #2
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God forbid that we impose all our irregular verbs on the rest of the planet.

I think more people speak Chinese, actually, but the language of business seems to be English. A friend of mine does some international business and can speak French pretty fluently, but the French speakers switch to English when talking business with him because it's much faster and more efficient. He says if they try to do the same thing in French, it takes twice as long just because of how the concepts are conceptualized and phrased in French vs English.

There''s a movement to go to Esperanto as the int'l language, bu it's not gotten too much serious support. I'll post a link when I'm home later after work and on the computer unless someone posts it sooner. It looks rather fun, though.


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Old 04-26-2008, 01:14 PM   #3
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This may provide some insight into the world's most used languages:

http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats7.htm


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Old 04-26-2008, 01:21 PM   #4
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^^^^
I thought Esperanto died decades ago . Maybe there's been a resurgence and I just haven't been paying attention

Is going to a standard language at the expense of diversity sad? Absolutely. Is it inevitable? I think so. Mankind evolutionarily developed language in order to be more efficient socially. As our society "shrinks" (aka "become more global"), having a common language will also make us more efficient socially. Whether that language should be English or some other is another question entirely.
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Old 04-26-2008, 01:54 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Achilles
Whether that language should be English or some other is another question entirely.
That depends on the importance of America to the world economy. No, I am not saying America is so important that English must be used. I am saying American's are too stubborn to go to a different language (see metric system for an example of what I am talking about).

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God forbid that we impose all our irregular verbs on the rest of the planet.
Too true.

I agree with Achilles that it is sad we must give up cultural diversity for society efficiency and economic efficiency. It just makes economic sense to have one official language. Most documents now produce by the company I work for are now produced in both English and one of the many forms of the nation of Mexico Language (they use a form of Spanish mixed with an indigenous language). The added cost of printing these documents and hiring bilingual staff increase the cost for the consumer. Imagine the cost to school systems to hire bilingual teachers and purchase textbooks in different languages.

I hope that we can go to one language, yet still preserve our own unique heritage.



Last edited by mimartin; 04-26-2008 at 08:21 PM. Reason: grammer
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Old 04-26-2008, 02:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mimartin
I hope that we can go to one language, yet still preserve our own unique heritage.
I, for one, won't miss "dude" or "smarticle" (daughter drives me up the wall with that one). "truthiness" I might weep for.
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Old 04-26-2008, 02:13 PM   #7
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Oh come on dude, how will you convince anyone you are a rad wave hound with some gnarly beachfront property to sell them in Arizona without throwing in a dude now and again.


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Old 04-26-2008, 02:33 PM   #8
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Good point. Perhaps, I should have mentioned "chillax" instead.
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Old 04-26-2008, 02:34 PM   #9
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I don't think the Esperanto movement is dead, but I don't really follow it closely, either. I think it would have as much likelihood of being adopted as Klingon.

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Old 04-26-2008, 02:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Jae Onasi
I think more people speak Chinese, actually, but the language of business seems to be English.
More people DO speak Chinese, most of them are average joes with no relevance to the rest of the world who, like many Americans, will never leave China. So yeah, more people speak Chinese, but Chinese is not the most widely spread language.

And yeah, after having a conversation with a 13-year-old Serbian who spoke better english than some Americans I know, I can really see English becoming the "world language", or at least some variation of it. Much like American English already is, whatever "World English" is will do what American English did, take words that are better suited for things or add words that don't exist within.

People always complain about how English is such a bastardized language, and it's true, but really, what's the good in holding on to a language that doesn't grow?


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Old 04-26-2008, 06:31 PM   #11
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English will inevitably become the dominant language. I suspect this will have little to do with English actually spreading, because English does not spread, it consumes. It is not through a sort of osmosis that English is learned, but by the daily assaults English makes on other major languages on Earth, beating them to a bloody pulp and leaving them, wounded and alone in a dark alley while English walks away, slowly counting the new words to add to it's vocabulary.
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Old 04-26-2008, 06:49 PM   #12
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English is already a global language, that we all know. Hell, why else would I be on those forums if it wasn't?

But global isn't universal yet. I think that the US would have to remain a economic and military super-power long enough to this universalizing happen.


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Old 04-26-2008, 07:37 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Ctrl_Alt_Del
English is already a global language, that we all know. Hell, why else would I be on those forums if it wasn't?

But global isn't universal yet. I think that the US would have to remain a economic and military super-power long enough to this universalizing happen.
or another english speaking nation take it's place.


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Old 04-26-2008, 07:44 PM   #14
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or another english speaking nation take it's place.
That wouldn't be of much use, would it? People would still claim that it would be english the universal tongue.


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Old 04-26-2008, 07:44 PM   #15
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I suspect many of the major languages won't die completely off (even if they're only relegated to academic curiosities), but a single language that's nearly universal in its use has major advantages.

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Old 04-26-2008, 08:54 PM   #16
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I wonder if America will ever 'switch' over to the metric system. ....even though the metric system is the international science measuring system. It would seem much more likey that America will eventually switch over to it.

On topic > > English is one of the most difficult languages to speak, and write correctly (I guess), so I wonder why it is becoming more dominent. Perhaps it is just people adapting....

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Old 04-26-2008, 09:46 PM   #17
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Quote:
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On topic > > English is one of the most difficult languages to speak, and write correctly (I guess), so I wonder why it is becoming more dominent. Perhaps it is just people adapting....
Is that your opinion, Rev? Because I've always thought that latin-based tongues were harder, if we're sticking to western ones here.


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Old 04-26-2008, 10:13 PM   #18
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Is that your opinion, Rev? Because I've always thought that latin-based tongues were harder, if we're sticking to western ones here.
According to what Iíve heard academicals Spanish and Italian are easier to learn and Latin while easier than Chinese, Arabic, Finnish, Japanese and Russian is still fairly difficult. English is considered Basic to Hard.

I always wanted to learn Russian, but it was never offered during a time I was able to take it when I was in college. I went with Spanish, but my tongue does not work that way. Did great on the nonverbal test, but was never able to roll my tongue properly during the oral part of the exams. Still know enough to know when someone is cussing me out though.

Personally, I believe the world should go with Navajo, it is suppose to be very difficult, the Japanese never broke it when it was used as a code it in WWII.

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mimartin, like, gag me with a spoon.
I blame you Jae, I had to watch "Valley Girl" with Nicolas Cage and Deborah Foreman after reading your comments. It was you know like Awesome, just totally awesome. Iím for sureÖ it was so awesome.

Sad thing is I own "Valley Girl' on DVD, may watch ďFast Times at Ridgemont HighĒ now just to hear Sean Pennís Spicoli talk.



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Old 04-26-2008, 10:14 PM   #19
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No, He's right, English has one word for everything in the entire world. Some Languages have one word for three different objects.


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Old 04-26-2008, 10:18 PM   #20
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Quote:
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According to what Iíve heard academicals Spanish and Italian are easier to learn and Latin while easier that Chinese, Arabic, Finnish, Japanese and Russian is still fairly difficult. English is considered Basic to Hard.
How interesting. But, that english was easy to learn, is both something I've always heard and based on my personal experience with the tongue. I had much more difficulties on the french classes than on the english ones, and french was supposed to be a sister language to portuguese.


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Old 04-26-2008, 11:19 PM   #21
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Is that your opinion, Rev? Because I've always thought that latin-based tongues were harder, if we're sticking to western ones here.
I would argue that asian(Chinese and it's derivatives in particular) languages are the hardest to write, due to the intricacy of the symbols, and sheer number of symbols.

English is weird because it's easy to get the basics, but it gets exponentially harder beyond the simple stuff.

And while yes, another english would still be "english", it's fairly obvious that much of the "common" words would differ between say, England English and American English.


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Old 04-27-2008, 01:16 AM   #22
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Quote:
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Is that your opinion, Rev? Because I've always thought that latin-based tongues were harder, if we're sticking to western ones here.
No, that really isn't my opinion. I have heard from nearly all of my Language Arts (English/mandatory literature classes) that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Even my Spanish teacher says that. I guess that it depends on the persons knowledge though.

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Old 04-27-2008, 01:53 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev7
I have heard from nearly all of my Language Arts (English/mandatory literature classes) that English is one of the hardest languages to learn.
Live vs. live
Read vs. read

What phonetic rule indicates proper usage or tense? Or do we simply learn how to use words like these properly by rote? I'm not sure if other languages rely on such silliness as well, but I can very much understand why a non-native speaker could struggle to comprehend just what the heck it is that we're doing.
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Old 04-27-2008, 02:44 AM   #24
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On the topic of easiness, I can comment that English is a darned easy language to learn. English is a very object-based language and doesn't dabble needlessly with stuff like cases or genders etc. It's to-the-point and lets you get the message across much faster, since you don't have to spend more time on the grammar and stuff.

The whole Esperanto thing sucks, though. It was a noble idea, but there is no way it can be successful. Esperanto is a constructed language, so there will be no native speakers for it, and people wouldn't want to learn a language unless it is absolutely necessary - by now, all nations accept and use English as a standard language for International communication - and so, we have Esperanto failing.


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Old 04-27-2008, 08:02 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Web Rider
I would argue that asian(Chinese and it's derivatives in particular) languages are the hardest to write, due to the intricacy of the symbols, and sheer number of symbols.
Undoubtedly, especially for those used to western languages. But I only meant that latin derivatives were harder than english.

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No, that really isn't my opinion. I have heard from nearly all of my Language Arts (English/mandatory literature classes) that English is one of the hardest languages to learn. Even my Spanish teacher says that. I guess that it depends on the persons knowledge though.
Maybe. But getting the basics is not difficult at all (wasn't for me), what's somewhat harder, is getting and memorizing some stuff that, excuse me, don't make any sense at all. I remember I had a hard time with irregular verbs, for example.

And something that proves it's difficult to speak, but not write: the spelling contests. Obviously, under languages where the words are pronouced on the same way they're written - such as Portuguese or Japanese - we don't find such contests, nor it's remotely interesting.

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The whole Esperanto thing sucks, though. It was a noble idea, but there is no way it can be successful. Esperanto is a constructed language, so there will be no native speakers for it, and people wouldn't want to learn a language unless it is absolutely necessary - by now, all nations accept and use English as a standard language for International communication - and so, we have Esperanto failing.
.
Yeah, but, as a non-native english speaker, I must confess I feel uneasy to have my language slowly replaced by one that some people take for native.


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Old 04-27-2008, 04:09 PM   #26
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God forbid that we impose all our irregular verbs on the rest of the planet.
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Old 04-27-2008, 04:38 PM   #27
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I think it's a bad thing for the world to adopt one language, but I think there are plusses as well. But it's really the same double edged sword.

There are concepts that often appear in one language, and not the words of another. For instance, in english, there is one word love. Greek has three different more specific terms (eros (romantic love), philos (brotherly love), and agape (unconditional love)) that are variously translated into the same english word but have vastly different meanings. I've heard that there's a similar difference in Eskimo words for snow vs english ones, but I don't know from my own knowledge. I've heard the claim that there are 30 different types of snow as classified by the eskimoes. Or what about the difference between the spanish estar and ser, one denoting a permanent state, the other a temporary state of affairs? By comparison, english only has "to be" and doesn't differentiate by the actual verb.

Reducing the number of words around the world often has the effect of reducing the number of concepts, and making everyone think more alike about issues because every one thinks less in depth about issues than they would have if they'd kept their native languages in the first place. So in a way it does bring more unity, but at a cost of making much of the world stupider.

1984 anyone?


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Old 04-27-2008, 04:45 PM   #28
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Quote:
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Or what about the difference between the spanish estar and ser, one denoting a permanent state, the other a temporary state of affairs?
It's actually the contrary, but I get your meaning.
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Reducing the number of words around the world often has the effect of reducing the number of concepts, and making everyone think more alike about issues because every one thinks less in depth about issues than they would have if they'd kept their native languages in the first place. So in a way it does bring more unity, but at a cost of making much of the world stupider.
My opinion? That's hardly the case. Just the exchange or elimination of words can't do that to a culture. Granted, it'd still be incredibly difficulty to adapt english on so many places and dialects are completely inevitable.


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Old 04-27-2008, 05:33 PM   #29
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Quote:
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It's actually the contrary, but I get your meaning.
sorry. It's been a long time since I took it and I didn't double check before posting which was which. I hope the point is still clear

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Originally Posted by Ctrl_Alt_Del
My opinion? That's hardly the case. Just the exchange or elimination of words can't do that to a culture. Granted, it'd still be incredibly difficulty to adapt english on so many places and dialects are completely inevitable.
I see your point as well. Perhaps I should specify that it's not suddenly, but over time that I think it is probable.


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Old 04-28-2008, 12:22 AM   #30
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Quote:
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We have people from all sorts of places here - Scandinavia, the Netherlands, Malaysia, Brazil, Portugal and God knows where else.
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Originally Posted by Web Rider
More people DO speak Chinese, most of them are average joes with no relevance to the rest of the world who, like many Americans, will never leave China. So yeah, more people speak Chinese, but Chinese is not the most widely spread language.
Don't discount Mandarin just yet (Mandarin a.k.a. putonghua is the predominant dialect. It's not easy to learn (although to be fair, I haven't tried all that hard). I would say that the main problem is learning the intonations, and building up a vocabulary in it.

Reading-wise, English is probably easier as if you're familiar with certain words and their roots, you can make an educated guess as to what it means. With Chinese characters, you either know it or you don't.

Anyway, I'm against having a single global language. It's good for more people to become multilingual, but I'm sure that most of you realise that a lot of meaning gets lost in translation. A lot of things are simply more poetic in certain languages. Plus a global language would mean losing centuries of literature in other languages.



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Last edited by Bee Hoon; 04-28-2008 at 02:32 AM. Reason: sorry, mimartin! misquoted.
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