NATLANG: English Homework - Keeping alive languages of minorities?
|From:||Carsten Becker <naranoieati@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, March 5, 2005, 20:35|
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS A LITTLE BIT OF POLITICS,
BUT THE MAIN TOPIC OF MY ESSAY QUOTED HERE IS STILL
LANGUAGES. IN NO WAY I INTEND TO BREAK LOOSE ANOTHER SEASON
OF FLAMEWARS AGAIN. PLEASE STICK TO THE FACTS AND KEEP
OBJECTIVE WHEN REPLYING. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Now that the most important things are said, let's begin
finally. Since we're currently dealing with Ireland in
English lessons at school and dealt with the Irish language
in one of the recent lessons and Irish today has only
comparably few speakers, our teacher, Mrs Oschinski, asked
us to write a comment on the following question:
>> In *your* opinion, do you think that languages with a
>> relatively small number of speakers should be kept
>> alive in a united Europe?
I thought this might be of interest here, too. I wrote the
following as a *spontaneous* answer:
| I think it is a pity when a language dies out.
| Languages have always to do with culture, which means
| when a language dies out, a major part of the culture if
| not even the culture itself the language belongs to has
| Europe, different than the Americas, has a big number
| of cultures sharing a comparably small area. North and
| South America lack this long history because they have
| been settled by Europeans only since the 16th century.
| These colonies could of course not develop the same kind
| of variety there is in Europe after a few thousand years
| of historical development in just four hundred years.
| Europe is not only rich and varied of cultures, but also
| of languages. The majority of the North American
| territories was conquered by the British, in South
| America it was the Spanish who took the land and raised
| colonies. That way, English respectively Spanish spread
| all over the continent. Due to conquering, the native
| cultures of America were mostly wiped out, which is also
| a pity because now it is very hard to do research on
| them. It would be the same for all languages around the
| world. And this is also why linguistic and
| anthropological fieldwork is done: to save information
| about languages and cultures before they die out
| eventually. Getting to know about the cultures of a
| certain area greatly helps to understand possible
| conflicts there and to find solutions to them.
| Because of the many cultural differences in Europe
| and also because of the many languages, I think it is not
| or only hardly possible to form a state similar to the
| U.S. There, when the state was founded, the government
| was speaking English, as were most people, and the others
| accepted this -- English became the primary language in
| the U.S. But now go and tell the currently about half a
| billion citizens of the European Union to give up their
| language and perhaps even parts of their culture. The
| question is, which language would be suitable to replace
| all the others? There have been attempts at so-called
| "International Auxiliary Languages" like for example
| Esperanto among others, but due to their artificiality,
| only few people are willing to practise them in daily
| life. Additionally, IALs are *not* culturally
| independent. As for giving up parts of one's culture, I
| guess the 'mainstream' culture in America is still
| greatly affected by the originally British one, but in
| Europe, there are no such patches of people of one
| culture living sprinkled all over the country like there
| were in America. In Europe, many people still see
| themselves in first place as British, French, German,
| Dutch, Italian, Spanish, etc., not as Europeans. That
| way, there cannot be one 'mainstream' culture.
| Europe is very much culturally and linguistically
| varied, and I think this is what makes Europe what it is.
| In order to keep up variety, it is unfortunate when
| languages die out, also if they have only got few
As I said, I wrote this spontaneously, and additionally, I
am still only a student. I also do not and cannot know
everything -- my essay thus might well generalize or
simplify facts or may be one-sided regarding some aspects.
Edatamanon le matahanarà benenoea ena 15-A7-58-11-2-16-3A
ena Curan Tertanyan.