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A World language?

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
Do you believe the globe should strive for a world language, if so, what language should it be and how should it be implemented?
post #2 of 37
No.. but it will happen anyhow.
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post #3 of 37
Arguably we already have a world language as far as technical, flight, and the WWW - it's English. :cool:
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post #4 of 37
I personally feel it would be great to walk up to any human in any country and be able to communicate with them.
post #5 of 37
It's been tried already. They called it "Esperanto" I believe.

The reason it didn't work, as my English teacher expained, was that so much old literature had been previously written in langauges and translations will never quite capture the original feeling/essence quite right.

I also heard that Chinese will take over English on the WWW. I hope that doesn't happen because Chinese looks like an ass to learn.
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post #6 of 37
It's been tried already. They called it "Esperanto" I believe.

The reason it didn't work, as my English teacher expained, was that so much old literature had been previously written in langauges and translations will never quite capture the original feeling/essence quite right.

I also heard that Chinese will take over English on the WWW. I hope that doesn't happen because Chinese looks like an ass to learn.
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post #7 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by MacAddict:
<strong>I also heard that Chinese will take over English on the WWW. I hope that doesn't happen because Chinese looks like an ass to learn.</strong><hr></blockquote>So might English to a Chinese man.
post #8 of 37
Yeah, but Chinese won't have the support of the whole non-communist community...

Now if you want a nice logical, straightforward language Russian's the way to go! Why? Because it's the only language other than English that I speak!
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post #9 of 37
I seriously doubt Chinese will supplant English as the language of the web in the next 50 odd years.

I don't think it's a good idea to take China's political system as a part of the argument, since it could change in the next 50 years. It's pretty irrelevant compared to the fact that there are a zillion of us chinese folk.

The Web is and will continue to be pushed by business. Right now the language of business around the world is English. There are more people learning English as a second language to complement their native language than there are native English speakers learning other languages.

In 50 years, who knows. Maybe your children's children will be learning Swahili in school.

Maybe it will be an alien language.
post #10 of 37
China is in the top ranks of countries with the most English speakers.
post #11 of 37
[quote]Yeah, but Chinese won't have the support of the whole non-communist community...<hr></blockquote>

Hmm...I'm sure noone means any harm here, but people often make the association between Chinese and Communism in quick, simplistic ways which are problematic and irrelevant.

It's worth mentioning that Chinese culture and languages existed long before the current communist regime - and will surely outlast it. Furthermore, not all Chinese peoples support communism. That's why the government is considered a dictatorship. Not to mention the millions of Chinese and Chinese-speaking peoples outside of China...

Also, no single language has "the support of the whole non-communist community." English is prevalent because the United States is the leading economic power in the world today, and many people are forced to use English in order to accomodate it. This is by no means to denigrate the English language - it's just a reality check. Try explaining to the French, for example, that all who use English should be considered as 'supporting' it. Quelle horreur!! Run for your lives!!

Look at China's overwhelming population and resources. It's naive to think that it won't eventually become an economic powerhouse on the order of the U.S. - if not surpass it altogether - because of today's communist government. When that happens, who do you expect to refuse Chinese business by not using Mandarin Chinese? And yes, the composition of the web would undoubtedly change as well.

I speak English, French, and Chinese (in that order of proficiency), and one of things I continually notice is the comparative disregard on the part of Americans and Canadians for the English language. What I find most admirable about the French is that, generally speaking, they have such an immense respect for their language that it could be considered a love. They (and to a somewhat lesser extent, the Chinese) seem to understand that it constitutes a fundamental part of who they are, in a way which Anglophone Americans and Canadians largely do not.

I've been curious about this for a while now. Is it because we here in North America are so relatively young? That we are still entranced by the very idea of newness? That it is a reaction to old-world imperialism and snobbery? Is it American Pragmatism? Or simply that being in the minority (as in the Quebecois) galvanizes a community? There's truth in saying that language is liquid, that it is a state of constant change - but I'm not convinced that it is a thinking (cerebral?) awareness that facilitates the pace at which we absorb and discard new vocabulary/conventions, entire languages-within-the-language, or the low importance we attach to teaching/insisting on its proper usage in schools. If you've lived in Europe, it's really quite shocking - and I find it hard to believe that it's an academic exercise...


Cheers,

Mark.

[ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: Mark ]</p>
post #12 of 37
I don't think we need a universal language. What we need is a Universal Translator, a la Star Trek.

It translates any language to any other language, and it is completely transparent. This means that if a Chinese person is talking to an American person, the Americanperson will sound Chinese to the Chinese person, and the Chinese person will sound American to the American person.

Whaddya think?
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post #13 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by MacAddict:
<strong>I also heard that Chinese will take over English on the WWW. I hope that doesn't happen because Chinese looks like an ass to learn.</strong><hr></blockquote>

It's amazing what they are teaching kids these days.
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post #14 of 37
I am I miss informed? But I was told a few 100 years ago The United States of America, had a vote on what language to be there national language, I was told the vote was between German (deutsche, the best language) and plan old Anglo Saxon English. We all know what won.

This come up when I was discussing how lazy American people are, I mean they wanted to be different from the English but they couldnt get off there behind and declare ultimate independence but creating a new language!
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post #15 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Mark:
<strong>

Hmm...I'm sure noone means any harm here, but people often make the association between Chinese and Communism in quick, simplistic ways which are problematic and irrelevant.

It's worth mentioning that Chinese culture and languages existed long before the current communist regime - and will surely outlast it. Furthermore, not all Chinese peoples support communism. That's why the government is considered a dictatorship. Not to mention the millions of Chinese and Chinese-speaking peoples outside of China...</strong><hr></blockquote>

I agree that the immediate jump from Chinese to Communist is inaccurate and problematic, but the fact is that many people make this jump automatically. As long as the connection is there, China, the Chinese, and Chinese-speakers will be viewed with suspicion and doubt by many people.

Also, I disagree that China will become an economic power on the order of America, especially since you say that this will happen because of their communist government. Without getting into a philosophical discussion on the merits and failings of Communism I'll just say that I really don't think that the Chinese economy will go very far based on it's current economic model. There were absolutely doomed before they transitioned their economy into a more capitalist mode, and the fact that capitalism over Communism is what brought there economy out of the red makes it hard to believe that Communism is what will push it higher. If China were to change their government to a more democratic one, and increased the influence of capitalism on their economic model, then I could definitely see them becoming an economic leader and even surpassing the US in affluence and power. Until that change-over occurs, I just don't see it happening.

As far as English's treatment by its speakers compared to French's, I think the way English-speakers do it is much healthier for the language. Language is a tool, and should be treated as such. If it doesn't properly get the job done it should be modified to do so. The fixation the French have on their language, and keeping it from evolving past the "perfection" it attained long agoin my opiniondoes nothing but force it to stagnate into ever-growing obscurity.

If we were to have a world language, I think it would have to be one with a logical, intuitive structure, and a simple, alphabetic writing system. With this in mind I would definitely not vote for English, and would probably go with Russian. In my experience (two years worth of college-level Russian courses) it is a very logical language. It has a lot of idiosyncrasies, and is a difficult language for the western mind to understand at first, but once you do it's a very simple, and I think, intuitive language. Failing that I think Japanese would be a good choice for many of the same reasons.
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post #16 of 37
[quote]I agree that the immediate jump from Chinese to Communist is inaccurate and problematic, but the fact is that many people make this jump automatically. As long as the connection is there, China, the Chinese, and Chinese-speakers will be viewed with suspicion and doubt by many people.<hr></blockquote>

Oh, I see - your post was a public service to voice the general feeling of many other people who think in simplistic terms. Uh-huh.

[quote]Also, I disagree that China will become an economic power on the order of America, especially since you say that this will happen because of their communist government.<hr></blockquote>

That's not what I said.

[quote]As far as English's treatment by its speakers compared to French's, I think the way English-speakers do it is much healthier for the language. Language is a tool, and should be treated as such.<hr></blockquote>

To call that an understatement would be a gross exaggeration - language is woven into, is a reflection of a culture. To learn another language is often an exercise in reconciling oneself to another way of thinking.

[quote]If it doesn't properly get the job done it should be modified to do so.<hr></blockquote>

That statement is idiotic in the extreme. All languages 'work' just fine for those who understand its ways and means. Languages evolve for reasons which cannot be so easily described as 'making it better.'

Fair is fair - if we presume to knock others for near-irrelevance in their zeal to protect a language, is it not problematic that it's a lack of awareness of the importance of language which facilitates the way we treat English (as opposed to a learned position?) What we have is an unknowing passivity. But somehow we're better because we're greater in number?

People often maintain that a quick pace of obsolescence simply reflects the nature of language when this assertion only masks a lack of understanding of why language matters; how its developments are worth examining in greater detail. Those who devote their lives to studying languages might have just a slight problem with that one-liner. There was an excellent article in a little publication called <a href="http://www.pbk.org/americanscholar.htm" target="_blank">The American Scholar</a> last spring on this very subject - well worth finding and reading; it says far more than I could.

[quote]The fixation the French have on their language, and keeping it from evolving past the "perfection" it attained long agoin my opiniondoes nothing but force it to stagnate into ever-growing obscurity.<hr></blockquote>

The French enthusiasm for their language comes from the understanding that it is an inextricable part of the French culture. And the feeling that this culture is something worth protecting. To me, that's admirable. Not because it's practical or easy. Who knows; it may not even prove ultimately successful. But they have respect for themselves - which demands my respect. Complacency is a sad consequence of being 'number one' - and it's the only explanation I can stomach for the undiscriminating, voracious consumption of cultural pap in this part of the world. And the lax dismissal of language as something akin to a screwdriver - throw one away in exchange for a newer model - reflects a shallow understanding of culture commensurate with our shallow tastes.

Some may dismiss the high self-regard of the French as anal, but the sad truth is that the average Anglophone North American does not have one-fifth the pride in, or awareness of culture that wasn't manufactured by multinational conglomerates. I'd worry for English long before I'd ever worry for French for the complacency of its speakers. The popular assumption that English will survive forever because it's supposedly more adaptable, more 'fit to survive' than other languages is a western post-modernist conflation of what is with the notion of the perfect. The belief that English will prevail because everyone in the world 'supports' it today mistakes pragmatism for American manifest destiny and a non-existent cross-cultural, pro-English goodwill.

I think we Anglophones are getting a free ride for the moment. We fool ourselves into thinking that English is, for all intents and purposes, the world language. But it's not. It is only the dominant language of commerce - a situation which may well change in the future - and we might realize then that notions of protecting one's heritage are neither absurd nor anal, but crucial and human.


Cheers,

Mark.

[ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: Mark ]</p>
post #17 of 37
Bad idea, simply because it would kill every culture that exists in our world today, and thats just not cool. We live in a multilingual world, nothing is going to change that.
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post #18 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Marc:
<strong>I am I miss informed? But I was told a few 100 years ago The United States of America, had a vote on what language to be there national language, I was told the vote was between German (deutsche, the best language) and plan old Anglo Saxon English. We all know what won.

This come up when I was discussing how lazy American people are, I mean they wanted to be different from the English but they couldnt get off there behind and declare ultimate independence but creating a new language!</strong><hr></blockquote>

Don't you have some sheep to tend to?
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the paper clip of the overlying memo and go to file.
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The crucial memorandum will be snared in the out-basket by
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post #19 of 37
[quote]Oh, I see - your post was a public service to voice the general feeling of many other people who think in simplistic terms. Uh-huh.<hr></blockquote>

In a way, yes. Many people do think like this. A lot of people (American's at least) have very strong aversions towards Communism, which they most likely learned from parents and other older people who were around during the Red Scare of the 50s. Since China is a communist country, they feel many of the same feelings towards the Chinese. I wasn't "voicing the general feeling" of other people, I was making the statement that such feelings exist, and stand in the way of Chinese becoming a world language.

[quote]Originally posted by Mark:
quote:

Also, I disagree that China will become an economic power on the order of America, especially since you say that this will happen because of their communist government.


That's not what I said.<hr></blockquote>

Isn't that what you said here (my emphasis):

[quote]It's naive to think that it won't eventually become an economic powerhouse on the order of the U.S. - if not surpass it altogether - because of today's communist government.<hr></blockquote>

Or am I misinterpreting?

[quote]That statement is idiotic in the extreme. All languages 'work' just fine for those who understand its ways and means. Languages evolve for reasons which cannot be so easily described as 'making it better.'<hr></blockquote>

Ok, describe what the internet is without using any words that came about after 1776. Obviously the language of colonial America does not "'work' just fine" in a modern context, had it not evolved to incorporate the new concepts that have arisen since then it would be totally useless, and we would most likely be speaking an entirely different language right now.

[quote]The French enthusiasm for their language comes from the understanding that it is an inextricable part of the French culture. And the feeling that this culture is something worth protecting.<hr></blockquote>

Yes, but in my opinion they have taken it too far. The language is far too strictly regulated, and I think this is a bad thing. Language is not the only thing that changes and evolves over time. Cultures do too. This change occurs naturally, and should be allowed to happen. If bad things arise, people will take steps to get rid of them. If good things arise, people will embrace them. If you don't allow this process to occur, you don't allow your culture/language to better itself.

Unless I'm mistaken, the reason the Académie Française was established was that it was believed that the French culture and language were, essentially, perfect, and the they should be kept as they were and not allowed to be "corrupted". This seems more arrogant than enthusiastic to me.

[quote]The popular assumption that English will survive forever because it's supposedly more adaptable, more 'fit to survive' than other languages is a western post-modernist conflation of what is with the notion of the perfect. The belief that English will prevail because everyone in the world 'supports' it today mistakes pragmatism for American manifest destiny and a non-existent cross-cultural, pro-English goodwill.<hr></blockquote>

I agree. As I said, I think Russian is a much "better" language.

[quote]I think we Anglophones are getting a free ride for the moment. We fool ourselves into thinking that English is, for all intents and purposes, the world language. But it's not. It is only the dominant language of commerce - a situation which may well change in the future - and we might realize then that notions of protecting one's heritage are neither absurd nor anal, but crucial and human.<hr></blockquote>

Perhaps the reason American's feel this way is that we've always been taught that diversity is good, and that it's bad if everyone is the same. We don't really have a culture of our own, as everyone has been encouraged to be an individual. I certainly don't consider myself to belong to any particular American culture, and have never really felt any pride for my "American" heritage. I do however feel pride for, and a need to preserve the culture and heritage or my pre-American roots.
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post #20 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Sinewave:
<strong>

Don't you have some sheep to tend to? </strong><hr></blockquote>

Yes, yes my sheep need me! Considering Im 12 stories up in the Metropolis in the center of Auckland City. And thank you Sinewave your stereotype is great, why didnt I think of this before?

Oh yeah are you from aussie?
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post #21 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by Marc:
<strong>I am I miss informed? But I was told a few 100 years ago The United States of America, had a vote on what language to be there national language, I was told the vote was between German (deutsche, the best language) and plan old Anglo Saxon English. We all know what won.

This come up when I was discussing how lazy American people are, I mean they wanted to be different from the English but they couldnt get off there behind and declare ultimate independence but creating a new language!</strong><hr></blockquote>

I thought that was Dutch?

As for your second point...brace yourself...because....

"If you're not with us, you're against us."

Some people actually buy in to that
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post #22 of 37
Mark, nonhuman. You managed to make a thread about a flippin world language in to a political discussion....I believe the Americans say: oh my God!

I would love for Chinese to be the world language actually. Haha, I can see George Bush and his buds now. "I ain't gonna be learning that red commie inferior language! Where the hell is China anyway!?"
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post #23 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by macoracle:
<strong>I believe the Americans say: oh my God!</strong><hr></blockquote>

What would you say? <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
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post #24 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by nonhuman:
<strong>

What would you say? :confused: </strong><hr></blockquote>

We would say f*ck off but in Ireland that is not as much an offensive remark as in your country.
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post #25 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by nonhuman:
<strong>

Or am I misinterpreting?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Yes; you're taking those five words out of context.

Let me break down my post for you:

- Because the communist regime won't last
- and because it has such enormous potential
- one should not think
- that China will fail to be a powerhouse
- simply because of its current government.

...with consequences for English as the dominant language of commerce, etc...

[quote]Originally posted by macoracle:
<strong>

Mark, nonhuman. You managed to make a thread about a flippin world language in to a political discussion....I believe the Americans say: oh my God!</strong><hr></blockquote>

Hmm. I hope you're being sarcastic.


Cheers,

Mark.
post #26 of 37
One word - Newspeak.
post #27 of 37
Latin

Swahili

Esperanto

Spanglish

or

XML (how do you pronounce &lt;b&gt;?)
post #28 of 37
Legalese.
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post #29 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by btober:
<strong>One word - Newspeak.</strong><hr></blockquote>

Let's hope not!!! :eek:

[ 11-25-2001: Message edited by: MacsKickAss ]</p>
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post #30 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by BuonRotto:
<strong>
XML (how do you pronounce &lt;b&gt;?)</strong><hr></blockquote>

Lets see...You could say:
"open bracket-bee-close bracket"
"Tag B"
"The B Tag"
"Less Than-Bee-Greater Than"
"Thingie-Bee-Thingie"
"Bold Tag" {Unlikely b/c &lt;B&gt; has no significange in XML without a DTD}
"B Tag"
"That thingie with the B in it"

Anyone have another way to say it?
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post #31 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by btober:
<strong>One word - Newspeak.</strong><hr></blockquote>

That is an doubleplusungood idea.
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post #32 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by graphiteman:
<strong>Anyone have another way to say it?</strong><hr></blockquote>

How bout:

"enclosed-b"
"dealified-b"
"b-in-a-box" (or would that be [b]?)
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post #33 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by graphiteman:
<strong>I don't think we need a universal language. What we need is a Universal Translator, a la Star Trek.

It translates any language to any other language, and it is completely transparent. This means that if a Chinese person is talking to an American person, the Americanperson will sound Chinese to the Chinese person, and the Chinese person will sound American to the American person.

Whaddya think?</strong><hr></blockquote>

Yeah, and somehow the translators make the lips sync with the English translation, too. Space-time distortion? I think not...
post #34 of 37
Yeah, Newspeak plusgood!
post #35 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by cdhostage:
<strong>Yeah, Newspeak plusgood!</strong><hr></blockquote>

Is Yeah a word in NewSpeak?
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post #36 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by cdhostage:
<strong>

Yeah, and somehow the translators make the lips sync with the English translation, too. Space-time distortion? I think not...</strong><hr></blockquote>

Well, the lips non't have to sync with the english translation.
Although if you want them to, just use a Mobile Emitter.
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post #37 of 37
[quote]Originally posted by macoracle:
<strong>Mark, nonhuman. You managed to make a thread about a flippin world language in to a political discussion....I believe the Americans say: oh my God!

I would love for Chinese to be the world language actually. Haha, I can see George Bush and his buds now. "I ain't gonna be learning that red commie inferior language! Where the hell is China anyway!?" </strong><hr></blockquote>


Spoken like a true irishman. Or should I say, spoken like a bastard son of a bitch who doesn't know what the **** he's talking about.
David Egger
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First Year Student DePauw University
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David Egger
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