[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.
[ 11-23-2001: Message edited by: Mark ]</p>