Languages dying

This is a discussion on Languages dying within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Germans say things differently than Americans. Strong Bad does it again...

  1. #16
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    Germans say things differently than Americans.
    Strong Bad does it again

  2. #17
    Just a Member ammar's Avatar
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    First of all, it's really amazing how English became the most common language in the world... And it's all because English people wanted it to be the first language in the world, and they realized at an early stage the importance of having their language as the main language in the world.

    But as I said in my previous post, it's very important to learn your own native language, because it carries your culture and your history... Because people in different areas in the world must be different, because of their history that made their costums, herritage, and also language and others... So you can not expect that someone in Asia should live like someone in North America. And as I also said in my previous post, people should also learn a commong language like English.

    In many coutries ordinary people do not have to learn a more common language, because their native language is more than enough for their normal life, unless they are in a field where English is the main language like IT...

    And there are many countries that provide translations for almost everything that people would learn English to understand, because they feel that they are preserving their own culture by preserving their language.

    But what if English was not the first language in the world? Maybe some people will be tryig to make their own language more and more common, because if a country's language is common, then it's culture will be common too.

    Finaly, I don't want to see a world speaking only one language no matter what this language is, I would like to see everybody speak their own language, but at the same time know another common language in order to communicate better with the outside world( especially the western world ).

    Note:
    I'm sorry for my English, I know it's not good enough!
    none...

  3. #18
    The Earth is not flat. Clyde's Avatar
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    First of all, it's really amazing how English became the most common language in the world...
    Its not. Chinese is.

    But as I said in my previous post, it's very important to learn your own native language, because it carries your culture and your history
    I really don't buy this argument, history, is factual, it can be written down in any language. The history of a people is unlikely to disappear merely because people stop speaking the language, know many people who speak Latin?

    As for cultural identity, why is that a good thing? We just take it as given that maintaining our respective cultures is inherently good, well i don't buy it. Whatís so good about splitting people into artificial groups? Left alone cultures merge. Why not let them?

    Because people in different areas in the world must be different, because of their history that made their costums, herritage, and also language and others...
    None of those things have to cause lasting differences, the only reason history has an impact is because it is the basis for cultural and economic differences, and both those can and do change with time.

    Individuals will always be different, and its seems inevitable that there will always be certain levels of grouping, but that doesn't mean we should fight to preserve differences for the sake of preserving differences when we could just allow them to fade away.

    So you can not expect that someone in Asia should live like someone in North America.
    Today maybe not, but there is no reason why that should always be the case. Cultural differences merge, historical differences of themselves dont matter, economic issues are really the only differences that have the capacity to stick around, and even then there is room for change.

    Finaly, I don't want to see a world speaking only one language no matter what this language is
    Ok, what about a REAL master language, consider for a moment what would happen if people took a language's grammatical structure, and took the core mainstay words, then added to them. If the Inuit had to convert to English they would no doubt invent or merely port across new words for snow. What if every language did that?

    Then you wouldn't lose any meaning at all. You would effectively have a language with a max vocabulary that was truly gargantuan, large numbers of people around the world would no doubt favour different words, but they would still share the same core, and hence all be able to communicate with each other.

    Interestingly you can already see languages picking up words here and there, "le sandwich bar" "the buffet" come to mind.

    Not that i think my scenario is particularly likely, it was merely food for thought.
    Last edited by Clyde; 07-27-2003 at 06:57 PM.

  4. #19
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    First of all, it's really amazing how English became the most common language in the world... And it's all because English people wanted it to be the first language in the world
    It was the imperialism of the English people that caused this. The English language spread to so many different areas of the world that all parts of the world were learning the language. Not to mention, that throughout the 19th century, coming into the 20th Century, and throughout the 20th Century the 2 super-powers of the world were England, for it's respective time period, and the US. Since English had become so widespread and English was/is the first language of these two countires other countries had to conform to English being the primary language of international discussions and other such matters. Which, partially relates to English speakers wanting it to be the first language in the world.

  5. #20
    Pursuing knowledge confuted's Avatar
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    Veritas vos Liberabit, Clyde.
    Away.

  6. #21
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    Hi. This was an offtopic flamebait post. Now it's not.

    I expect a PM complaining about this by the time I'm back from lunch. Let's see what happens.

    -Govtcheez

    edit: no PM
    "Assumptions are the mother of all **** ups!"

  7. #22
    Just a Member ammar's Avatar
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    Of course I know that Chinese is the most common language in terms of native speakers, but I think that you know I didnít mean that!

    Although history is factual, itís still best expressed with its native language, for example you cannot study Japanese literature in English, so your relation to your past will be weakened if not died.

    And why is the relation with the past important? Because itís simple why you became as you are nowÖ Even if you want to change some cultural values, you have to study how they came out in the first place, and you cannot fully understand that in a language other than your native language, so any change in the current time, should be based on the study of history.

    Iím not saying that people should be isolated, cultures are influenced by other cultures and thatís good, but each community should maintain its differences, because it makes its identityÖ For example, if you went to live in China, donít you want to have your own identity, language, and customs! Would you like to speak Chinese and forget English, live the Chinese way of life, and not your own, of course I donít mean that you should be isolated from the community, maybe Chinese people living with you will be influenced by your culture, and maybe you will be influenced by theirs as well.

    I myself prefer the western lifestyle, because itís the one that I live now, and itís the one that I think is right, but others donít think the same, they might prefer other lifestyles, so there should be some place were you can live the lifestyle you want.

    Finally having one common language will make communication with the outside world much easier, but even without that one language, things are not that bad!

    Iím sorry again for my Enlish!
    none...

  8. #23
    The Earth is not flat. Clyde's Avatar
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    Although history is factual, itís still best expressed with its native language, for example you cannot study Japanese literature in English, so your relation to your past will be weakened if not died.
    This argument doesn't work, just because people stop speaking a language doesn't mean academics have stop learning it for historical reasons.

    Just look at Latin, ancient Greek, they are no longer spoken but people still learn them for academic purposes and as such no history is lost.

    If Japanese stopped being spoken, academics would still learn it, so they could study ancient Japanese literature.

    And why is the relation with the past important? Because itís simple why you became as you are nowÖ
    No no no no, all that attitude does is again separate people for absolutely no reasons: My history is this, your history is this...... irrelevant. History should be preserved but not on a personal level, why should the history of England be more important to me than the history of say South America? It shouldn't.

    Even if you want to change some cultural values, you have to study how they came out in the first place, and you cannot fully understand that in a language other than your native language,
    Oh come on that's pushing it, if that were true then evolutionary psychology and anthropology would completely fail, but they don't do they, so clearly it is possible to understand cultural values without learning the language.

    Besides your point doesn't really add up.

    1) The British managed to change cultural values all over the world without having a freaking clue about the cultures they were stomping on.

    2) I am not advocating forcing cultures to adopt specific values or characteristics, but i do think there is something to be said for allowing cultures to merge.

    Iím not saying that people should be isolated, cultures are influenced by other cultures and thatís good, but each community should maintain its differences, because it makes its identity
    Nonsense, this is just the standard answer, the socially acceptable opinion, that's the answer that everyone nods their heads to and mutters "Ah yes what a wise young man" but actually, when you look at it, it doesn't make a great deal of sense.

    Identity? Why is group identity a good thing? Why are we trying to preserve this?

    I'm from England and i do x,y and z, and think a, b, and c,. And your from South Africa and you do 1, 2, and 3, and thing 5, 6, and 7. Bollocks to that.

    Group identity sucks ass, its an evolutionary throw-back, and instead of protecting it we should speed its demise.

    For example, if you went to live in China, donít you want to have your own identity, language, and customs! Would you like to speak Chinese and forget English, live the Chinese way of life, and not your own, of course I donít mean that you should be isolated from the community, maybe Chinese people living with you will be influenced by your culture, and maybe you will be influenced by theirs as well.
    Why does my identity have to have anything whatsoever to do with my race? It doesn't, and it shouldn't.

    Do you think British born Asians who are no different to me other than the colour of their skin are somehow lesser for it?

    I'm not superhuman, Iím a product of our time, you're right in that I wouldn't really like to instantly lose my "identity". BUT that doesn't mean i should fight to save it. You go back a few hundred years, when the concept of organ transplants came up, and people thought it was horrible, it felt inherently wrong to chop up humans, just because something feels wrong doesn't mean it is.

    Most people do have a sense of national and cultural identity, but its not a good thing, or atleast it would be much better if we all shared the same identity, that way you don't lose anything you merely gain.

    I myself prefer the western lifestyle, because itís the one that I live now, and itís the one that I think is right, but others donít think the same, they might prefer other lifestyles, so there should be some place were you can live the lifestyle you want.
    Give me an example of a way of life that would be highly sought after and would not be possible without individual geographically separate cultural regions.

    To summarise i don't think arguments for keeping languages "alive" on historical of "identity" grounds are valid because "dead" languages can be used for historical purposes and I don't think a strong sense of "identity" that separates groups of humans is a good thing.

  9. #24
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    Originally posted by Clyde
    Group identity sucks ass, its an evolutionary throw-back, and instead of protecting it we should speed its demise.
    I totally disagree here. Group identity is an evolutionary push-forward. What if a group of monkies never would have started to walk on two legs?

    What if a group of people facing a new area never would have wanted to name the new things they found there. Like the Inuits who faced their sixty different kinds of snow, it was necessary for them to name them. The Beduins, on the other hand, might instead have faced sixty different kinds of sand. If these two groups would have been stuck to the language of their forefathers, they would have been having a harder to survive in their respective environments.

    Language is an adaption to the surrounding environment, to the way you live, and is thus necessary to be different with different ways of life. However, I can agree to that grammar and syntax might possibly have been better, if it would have been the same all over the world.
    Last edited by Zewu; 07-28-2003 at 10:34 AM.

  10. #25
    Cheesy Poofs! PJYelton's Avatar
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    Zewu, I think you got it backwards. Groups with strong identity would have done the opposite you were thinking. Those monkeys would have been unwilling to stand on two legs because their group identity told them they weren't supposed to. And instead of the Inuit's creating new words for snow and the Beduins creating new words for sand, they would have fought to keep their old traditions alive and thus not change them to incorporate their new habitat.

    Its the people who fought their group identity who changed these groups.

  11. #26
    The Earth is not flat. Clyde's Avatar
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    What if a group of people facing a new area never would have wanted to name the new things they found there. Like the Inuits who faced their sixty different kinds of snow, it was necessary for them to name them. The Beduins, on the other hand, might instead have faced sixty different kinds of sand. If these two groups would have been stuck to the language of their forefathers, they would have been having a harder to survive in their respective environments.

    Language is an adaption to the surrounding environment, to the way you live, and is thus necessary to be different with different ways of life. However, I can agree to that grammar and syntax might possibly have been better, if it would have been the same all over the world.
    I think you're misunderstanding what i'm saying, what i meant by an evolutionary throw back, was merely a characteristic that no longer benefits modern man. (like uhh chest hair).

    Besides, i don't see the correlation between developing new words and group mentality. I am not saying that based on different environments people shouldn't behave in slightly different ways (that happens all the time independent of national culture - people who live by the sea probably go to the beach more often than those who don't), it is the artificial catagorisation that i think is harmfull: The view that "I am with this group, and you are with that group" is detrimental. It seems an inherent part of human nature, and is to a certain extent inevitable BUT there are many instances where its effects could lessen, and i think in most of those instances we should let it, rather than fighting to protect it.
    Last edited by Clyde; 07-28-2003 at 12:21 PM.

  12. #27
    Just a Member ammar's Avatar
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    This argument is becoming more and more interestingÖ

    This argument doesn't work, just because people stop speaking a language doesn't mean academics have stop learning it for historical reasons.
    Here you are limiting the access of history to academic people only, why donít ordinary people have access to it too, without having to learn a language thatís already deadÖ
    If you have a language thatís developed enough like any other modern language, and itís been there for a long time, why let it die?! And again I say, itís still important to speak another common language, because if you can not make your language common, you have to speak a common one.

    Just look at Latin, ancient Greek, they are no longer spoken but people still learn them for academic purposes and as such no history is lost.
    I think that itís different in the case of Latin, because languages like English developed from Latin( if Iím right ), so itís evolution here, not change, and the same applies to ancient Greek, which means that people developed the language and they are using that new language, and itís different from the case where you have to adopt a new language.

    why should the history of England be more important to me than the history of say South America? It shouldn't.
    I think it should be, because you are from England and not fron South AmericaÖ What you are now, is the results of what happened in the past.

    it is possible to understand cultural values without learning the language
    It will not be a perfect understandingÖ We all know that translation cannot ďtranslateĒ everything form a language to another, many things are going to be altered, for example if you are reading an English translation of a novel, no matter how good the translation is, itís not as if you were reading the original French novel, and thatís just a novel not a whole nationís history.

    The British managed to change cultural values all over the world without having a freaking clue about the cultures they were stomping on.
    You know they forced them to do that, although they did not succeed in most of the cases, people did not express those values in the public, but they were still believing in them, maybe they became more attached to them, because they were forced to abandon them.

    I am not advocating forcing cultures to adopt specific values or characteristics, but i do think there is something to be said for allowing cultures to merge.
    I donít want culture to ďmergeĒ, and I want them to ďcommunicateĒ, and if two cultures were to ďmergeĒ that should take a VERY long time, and this usually happens to minorities living in certain communities, so the minoritiesí cultures merges into the majoritiesí.

    I'm not superhuman, Iím a product of our time, you're right in that I wouldn't really like to instantly lose my "identity". BUT that doesn't mean i should fight to save it. You go back a few hundred years, when the concept of organ transplants came up, and people thought it was horrible, it felt inherently wrong to chop up humans, just because something feels wrong doesn't mean it is.
    You shouldnít ďfightĒ to save it if you donít like it.
    But if you do, you should, because you have the right to live as you wish without ďfightingĒ, of course as long as you are not interfering with other people life, but if you donít like at the first place, just leave it, and adapt another one.

    I'm from England and i do x,y and z, and think a, b, and c,. And your from South Africa and you do 1, 2, and 3, and thing 5, 6, and 7. Bollocks to that.
    Do you think itís right for me to make you do 1, 2, 3 and think 5, 6, and 7, do you think I have the right to do it!? Even if you did 1, 2, and 3 and thought 5, 6, 7, but you donít believe in them, how is that any good?!

    Group identity sucks ass, its an evolutionary throw-back, and instead of protecting it we should speed its demise.
    Now that is nonsenseÖ Group identity is an evolutionary push-forward, because a community with many group identities will have each identity influencing other identities, and after all have a better understanding of each other.


    Iím saying that if you and I have different identities, or different values, we can still live in peace, you donít have to believe as I do, and neither do I have to believe as you do. We can learn from each other, which is good for both of us, and maybe we will eventually change some of our own values, based a new and more developed understanding of things.

    To summarise i don't think arguments for keeping languages "alive" on historical of "identity" grounds are valid because "dead" languages can be used for historical purposes and I don't think a strong sense of "identity" that separates groups of humans is a good thing.
    I think that languages are better when they are not died, and there is no reason to let them die, while we can at the same time communicate with other people and learn from them.
    none...

  13. #28
    The Earth is not flat. Clyde's Avatar
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    Here you are limiting the access of history to academic people only, why donít ordinary people have access to it too, without having to learn a language thatís already deadÖ
    Detailed history is an academic subject. Ordinary people do have access to it in a general sense though; anyone can learn about Roman history and culture, Latin is not a precursor.

    The only people who really want to submerse themselves totally in a given culture for historical reasons, are academics, and they have no problem learning languages.

    Your historical argument really doesn't work.

    I think that itís different in the case of Latin, because languages like English developed from Latin( if Iím right ), so itís evolution here, not change, and the same applies to ancient Greek, which means that people developed the language and they are using that new language, and itís different from the case where you have to adopt a new language.
    ..... not following you.

    My point was merely that Latin and ancient Greek are dead languages yet that is not a barrier to our grasp of their respective histories. No i am not have a a perfect grasp of exactly what the Illiad said but i have a pretty good idea, the only people who want a perfect grasp of the Illiad are academics.

    I think it should be, because you are from England and not fron South AmericaÖ What you are now, is the results of what happened in the past.
    So? Why does my geographical location on the Earth matter? Why does how i got here matter?

    I should value ALL histories equally. Or atleast I think a world where people valued ALL histories equally, a world where people weren't divided up into their little meaingless groupings would be a better world.

    It will not be a perfect understandingÖ We all know that translation cannot ďtranslateĒ everything form a language to another, many things are going to be altered, for example if you are reading an English translation of a novel, no matter how good the translation is, itís not as if you were reading the original French novel, and thatís just a novel not a whole nationís history
    See my point about the Illiad.

    You know they forced them to do that, although they did not succeed in most of the cases, people did not express those values in the public, but they were still believing in them, maybe they became more attached to them, because they were forced to abandon them.
    I know, you seemed to be saying that inorder to change cultural values you needed to understand them, evidently not.

    I donít want culture to ďmergeĒ, and I want them to ďcommunicate".
    IMO one inevitably leads to the other.

    and if two cultures were to ďmergeĒ that should take a VERY long time, and this usually happens to minorities living in certain communities, so the minoritiesí cultures merges into the majoritiesí.
    It will no doubt take a long time, my point is merely that it is a good thing so we shouldn't fight it.

    Minority populations in other countries gradually shed their own culture in favour of the culture they are in, but thats not exactly what i mean (though the process is similar). What I mean by cultural blending is two separate cultures becoming more and more similar presumeably eventually reaching a point where they are no longer distinct (this is what people are so terrified of happening in Europe).

    You shouldnít ďfightĒ to save it if you donít like it.
    But if you do, you should, because you have the right to live as you wish without ďfightingĒ, of course as long as you are not interfering with other people life, but if you donít like at the first place, just leave it, and adapt another one.
    But i do like it, or atleast it feels nice, but what feels nice, is not neccessarily the best thing for humanity, since i think humanity would be better off without artificial groupings i therefore support cultural merging despite the fact that i do like being English and would feel a certain sense of loss in the demise of that "identity".

    Ok your argument here seems to be:

    People have the right to live the way they want, with multiple cultures they can sample them all and pick the best one, whereas if there is only one uber culture they wouldn't have the choice, right?

    Doesn't work like that, if that were true how do you explain the fact that almost everyone in the west chooses to stay in the West?

    They choose to stay within the confines of Western culture because they prefer Western culture, and why do they prefer Western culture? Because the criteria they judge cultures on (food, language, customs/religions, laws, etc.) are formed due to the cultural enviornment they grew up in!
    Last edited by Clyde; 07-28-2003 at 08:31 PM.

  14. #29
    The Earth is not flat. Clyde's Avatar
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    Do you think itís right for me to make you do 1, 2, 3 and think 5, 6, and 7, do you think I have the right to do it!? Even if you did 1, 2, and 3 and thought 5, 6, 7, but you donít believe in them, how is that any good?!
    I'm not advocating making anybody do anything.

    Now that is nonsenseÖ Group identity is an evolutionary push-forward, because a community with many group identities will have each identity influencing other identities, and after all have a better understanding of each other.
    Group identiy sucks, it means we arbitrarely identify with one group of humans over another. Its why people go to war, why football (English) fans beat the snot out of each other, its why racism, and every other form of stereotyping (<-- this is not the word i want but I can't remember it) exists, its also why the West leaves the 3rd world to rot, while the death of a single person can make headline news.

    We could do without it.

    Iím saying that if you and I have different identities, or different values, we can still live in peace, you donít have to believe as I do, and neither do I have to believe as you do.
    But it doesn't happen unless our values are almost identical, if you believe strongly in murderering babies and i believe strongly in not murderering babies we hit problems. Only when the differences in values are superficial do people live in harmony.

    We can learn from each other, which is good for both of us, and maybe we will eventually change some of our own values, based a new and more developed understanding of things.
    Yes, thats what i want, you take the best things from my culture i take the best things from your culture. Our cultures merge each one gaining from the strengths of the other to form a new improved culture that includes both populations.

    I think that languages are better when they are not died, and there is no reason to let them die, while we can at the same time communicate with other people and learn from them.
    As i said in my first post, language is an interesting issue, it marks out an unnessary group difference, on the other hand i have read articles that seem to indicate language can have a large impact on the way we percieve, that would seem something worth saving.

    My debate with you is merely with your reasons which seem to be motivated by a wish to preserve individual cultural identities.

  15. #30
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    We could all just go learn Esparnato(sp?) and let it finally fulfill its purpose of uniting the world with a single language...but I would rather we stick with English b/c those other languages are too difficult, after 2 years of Spanish which means 2 years of cheating on Spanish tests, I ave realized I like English, much more complicated but I actually understand it.
    Give me a bad reputation!!!

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