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The phasing out of languages around the world

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by imjustagirl, Nov 1, 2009.

  1. imjustagirl

    imjustagirl Active Member

    Just read this in a link from a friend:

    http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/2009%20-%20Fall/full-McWhorter-Fall-2009.html

    A look at the fading out of the world's languages (from 6,000 to 600 in the next 100 years? Yikes) and if that's truly a bad thing, or whether we just romanticize the idea of all these multiple dialects.

    I'm not a very smart person, and I still enjoyed the piece very much.
     
  2. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Fantastic read, and he raises some interesting points.

    I think he's right that lots of languages will die off, but also that English won't take over except as a shared lingua franca of commerce.

    Thanks for posting that, IJAG. Never would have read it, otherwise.
     
  3. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    English is flawed as a world language in many ways (pronunciation quirks, high number of homophones and idioms, etc.) but that's what we're stuck with. Thanks a lot, William of Normandy. You had to win in 1066 and fuck up something good.
     
  4. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Agreed.

    But, really, Arabic, Mandarin and Japanese aren't much better, from my limited knowledge. Spanish would probably be the easiest language to learn with the most speakers, yeah?
     
  5. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    Guano.
     
  6. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    All I can say is fuck French. Three years of trying and I still can't seem to get anywhere.
     
  7. zeke12

    zeke12 Guest

    Zut alors!
     
  8. crimsonace

    crimsonace Active Member

    All you need to know is to pronounce every fourth letter, and the last two letters of every word are silent. And every noun begins with "le" or "la".

    The Romance languages (Spanish/French/Romanian/Italian/Portuguese) are probably the simplest widely-disseminated languages in the world, and Spanish is probably the easiest of those.

    The one reason a lot of indigenous languages are dying is because of the growth of mass communication. It has essentially made the world smaller. There was a time that Latin was the lingua franca for all of Western Europe. Then, the Goths showed up in Rome, and each region began to diffuse from Latin a little bit (think of how American English has varied from British; and the difference in accent, idiom and slang between, say, a New Yorker and an Appalachian). Languages adapt and change over time, and eventually, those different dialects of Latin became completely different languages.

    Chinese has hundreds of different dialects, and Cantonese (spoken in the Guangzhou/Hong Kong area) is as different from Mandarin ("Standard Chinese," although it's the Beijing dialect) as French is from Italian. Interestingly, as all of the many dialects have diffused over the years, the written language is the same in all of them (e.g., the same character may be pronounced differently, but it means the same thing).

    Mass communication has broken down those barriers. To communicate in China today (to be able to watch TV, read a newspaper, have business communication, go to school, listen to the radio, et al), you need to know either Mandarin or Cantonese, and a local dialect is only in use locally. To communicate in most countries, you need to know the lingua franca. As that has happened, the use of local dialects has begun to die out. Literacy and schooling have also promoted the use of standard languages.

    I don't think English will be a lingua franca in that it's something everybody will learn, simply because English is one of the world's most difficult languages (as it's essentially a fusion of German, Welsh, Latin and Greek ... most of the words are Latin/Greek in origin, but the sentence structure is very obviously Germanic). It's more likely to see a Romance language become that. English & the other Romance languages (especially Spanish & French) have traveled around the world due to imperialism, so if there is going to be a lingua franca, it will be one of them.
     
  9. JR

    JR Active Member

    That's cute but not true.
     
  10. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    The truth is, unfortunately, much more complicated :(
     
  11. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I spike jive and I'm going to keep it alive. Lay it down and smack 'em, yack 'em.
     
  12. Big Circus

    Big Circus Well-Known Member

    Myself, I'm trying to spread the Pootie Tang dialect. Sine yo pitty on the runny kine, my damie!
     
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