English as a lingua franca (40)

1 Name: Shii : 2006-03-01 01:06 ID:2uih0Oc7

English seems to be becoming a default world language. Because of the United States' domineering capitalism both worldwide and online, more and more countries are seeing fit to teach English as a business language.

  • Is this a good thing?

Are we destroying variety, or recreating it within another context? Singlish, Spanglish, etc.

  • Could some other language take over?

It's often said that Spanish will overtake English, but no Hispanic country has the economic position of the United States, and economics is the world religion. Chinese is also volunteered because technically more people speak it, but its emperors seem to have no interest in promoting this, and it doesn't exactly offer itself to be taught to native speakers of other languages. Are there other possibilities?

2 Name: Shii : 2006-03-01 01:09 ID:2uih0Oc7

(Whoops! My mistake-- people don't speak Chinese, they write it. When you take a Chinese class you have to choose between Mandarin, Cantonese, or another sublanguage.)

3 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-01 03:30 ID:N6e7Htdz

I have heard that the differences between the chinese dialects are analogous with the differences between the romance languages. Is this correct?

4 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-01 20:38 ID:yIraXMHZ

Are we talking about English or American? I would say that Britan's colonization have had a much greater influence on the spread of English than the USA. It is true that the universal language for business has switched to American, probably because of its economic might, but English was already used in many places because of England's interests rather than America's.

Is it a good thing? I'm not even sure that question has an answer.
Just because English is used in business does not mean it is replacing every other language. Going with the colony examples again, I think this is a good thing. Being brought up polyglot because of a former colonial country has been a boon. You can grow up with a better understanding of other cultures and your own by being able to see it through the eyes of others. The spread of a common language (be it French or English) has also helped grease the wheels of diplomacy and may have even helped in avoiding wars.

Could it be overtaken by another language?
I think so, but certainly not Spanish. Spanish speaking countries in general do not have either vast markets or large quantities of raw materials in contrast with India, China, and parts of Africa.

Should it be overtaken by another language?
Debatable, but no language is perfect. Even Esperanto et al have their own problems.

5 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-01 23:22 ID:Heaven

Comedy Esperanto option.

6 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-02 14:08 ID:Heaven

I don't think one can say it's good or bad for English to be the world language. It's just what is naturally going to happen, since people seem to want to communicate with each other with more ease. And one day whatever support system is behind the English language will fall, and we'll have lots of Anglican sub-languages.

7 Name: Mireille guy : 2006-03-03 04:10 ID:rRtB+a4f

Support and revive Latin as the lingua franca!!!!!
That would be awesome. And please, DONT LET IT BECOME CHINESE!~~~ IT'S SO HARD TO LEARN IT. Especially if u want to learn how to read/write.....

8 Name: Mireille guy : 2006-03-03 04:13 ID:rRtB+a4f

I'd definitely support Portuguese as lingua franca also... It's in wide use around Africa, and it's very similar to other Romance languages. Very easy to learn, similar to Italian, Spanish, Latin, and I know many Americans who have learnt it decently well (mainly because of friend or gf/bf).

9 Name: Mireille guy : 2006-03-03 04:16 ID:rRtB+a4f

>>3 and to answer ur question... they can't understand each other at all... some romance languagues like spanish and portuguese can be mutually understood without knowledge of the other language, but htis is not hte case with most chinese dialects i believe. the chinese language has a MUCH LONGER HISTORY than any romance language (take into account the spread of latin), so they also evolved much more.

10 Name: Mireille guy : 2006-03-03 04:17 ID:rRtB+a4f

lets all learn Ido! -_-; not a chance.

11 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-03 04:26 ID:Heaven

>I don't think one can say it's good or bad for English to be the world language.

Its bad for english to be the world language because irregular spelling and grammer makes it difficult to learn.
Its good for english to be the world language because it is related to and has loanwords from many other languages.

>And one day whatever support system is behind the English language will fall, and we'll have lots of Anglican sub-languages.

Only as much as this has already happend between the US, England, Australia, etc.; which isn't very much at all. If you mean an actual regulatory body, then english has never had one of those anyway.

12 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-03 04:38 ID:Heaven

>>8
English or Spanish is still spoken by more people. And if we're gonna choose a lingua franca based on simplicity, we might as well go with something constructed.
But unfortunatwoah when I typed 'l' it looked like an elipse but then it didn't. I think I'm going crazy. Cool.

13 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-03 05:34 ID:2uih0Oc7

> Its bad for english to be the world language because irregular spelling and grammer makes it difficult to learn.

English is perfectly regular. It just has more rules than usual.

14 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-03 15:29 ID:yIraXMHZ

English isn't that much more screwed up than many other languages. Maybe a few more irregular verbs and exceptions. The real problem comes from the way English is almost every language. Spelling/pronunciation is horrible because of all of the loanwords and derivatives.

15 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-03 16:43 ID:Fh+tsdDI

I'd suggest a language that is 100% phonetic when written, like Serbian or some of the other east european languages...

16 Name: Shii : 2006-03-04 05:59 ID:2uih0Oc7

English in IPA?

17 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-05 13:22 ID:Heaven

>>7
I found the semester of [Mandarin] Chinese I took to be both fun and not challenging. Hanzi are somewhat of a pain, but eh, rote memorization.

>>16
Maybe not a bad idea. (Maybe some day I should get unlazy and learn to read IPA.)

18 Name: bubu : 2006-03-05 16:29 ID:Heaven

Formally speaking, English is not, and will not be the Lingua Franca of this age.
The so-called SBI ("Simplified Bad English"/"Spoken Bad English") is currently taking that place in many parts of the world. Upon closer examination, SBI is a set of (near-)pidgins that make use of a reduced english dictionary and grammar rather than anything else.

To me, the whole question presents itself as far less trivial than it is often regarded. The big factor X is, obviously, India. India is possibly the nation with the most SBI speakers in the world, however it can't be estimated what will happen when India plays a more important role than it does now - what language will Indians settle on to primarily communicate with each other? &c.
Another factor is the political and, more importantly, economic influence of the U.S. and, to an extent, Europe, and at this point at the latest the whole picture becomes so complex and impossible to foretell, that any speculation is idle.

>Are we destroying variety

Yes.
And how.
Outside of China and mainland Europe, you are probably the biggest killer language since Latin and Spanish.

>100% phonetic when written, like Serbian or some of the other east european languages...

lol pseudo-linguistic myths

>English in IPA?

We linguists have been proposing that for decades.
First people laughed. Then they found out we were serious.
Now we're having a jolly good time with white jackets and rooms with cushioned walls.

>I have heard that the differences between the chinese dialects are analogous with the differences between the romance languages. Is this correct?

No.

>>9

YES MUCH LONGER!!
oh wait, no, you lose.

19 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-05 18:08 ID:yIraXMHZ

>>18
Where is English destroying languages? In most countries I can think of even if English is the main language used people are taught their 'native' language at home as well.

20 Name: bubu : 2006-03-05 18:11 ID:Heaven

>>19
North America? Great Britain? Asia? Africa? Australia/Oceania?

21 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-06 00:18 ID:b9nAhQYG

I'm hoping for some kind of awesome mix between English and Chinese to take over, like in Blade Runner. It won't happen, though :(

22 Name: Shii : 2006-03-06 00:40 ID:2uih0Oc7

>>19
Well, take this for example: There are a lot of different languages spoken in India. 200 years ago this was no big deal, but today rural people around the world are flooding to the cities to get high-paying jobs, and international commerce usually needs English. If everyone needs to learn English so they can work at a call center (grossly oversimplified, but you get the idea), then they will also use English to converse with people who have different native languages. And then their kids won't need to know the native language at all.

>>21
It's easy! Just start a democratic revolution in China, and when they become an open and free society everyone will want to learn their language so they can make gobs of cash. You can help start the democratic revolution by working on Freenet so that Chinese college students will have access to open political discussions. Go on!

23 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-06 02:35 ID:yIraXMHZ

>>22
Most of the people will learn English as well as their native languages though. At least that has been my experience in parts of Africa.

24 Name: bubu : 2006-03-06 09:53 ID:Heaven

In Africa, English has been hard at work weeding out "smaller" languages, primarily of the QueQue and Bantou variety (Xiri, Yukuben, ...)
In North America, many native languages are either already dead, or on the brink of extinction. Some Algic languages are doing comparably well (Mi'kmaq has some 8'000 speakers), but most are being utterly crushed.
In Australia/Oceania, it's logically the "Aborigines" languages that are being trampled underfoot, for example Nyangumarda has some 500-odd speakers left.
bla bla bla, the list goes on and on.

>>23
actually, most learn a truncated version of their native language and a truncated version of the killer language, then find the respective killer language more important to get by (in business; in official matters; ...) and then choose not to perpetuate their language when spawning children of their own.
It's unsurprisingly extremely congruent with developments in immigrant worker's language development, which has been excellently treatised by de Cillia et al.

25 Name: Albright!LC/IWhc3yc : 2006-03-06 13:58 ID:Lq6tFkno

Re English "weeding out" smaller languages; you make it sound like English is going around with a hatchet and taking out other languages in its sleep. Nothing malicious at all is happening here; people are just finding it easier to communicate down the road and around the world if they use a language that a billion people speak instead of ones only their villages speak. In these days of telecommunications and rapid transit, it's only natural.

That being said, I agree that, on the spectrum of choice for languages to become the modern world's lingua franca, English was sure a crappy choice for the fates to make. As >>15 said, we need something that can be written phonetically, but hopefully also has a limited number of phonemes in the first place (and is not tonal, so not Chinese). In these regards, Spanish would be a good choice.

26 Name: bubu : 2006-03-06 17:12 ID:Heaven

sigh

27 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-06 18:19 ID:Heaven

>>bubu

What is bad about languages dying? The same goes for a 'culture' being destroyed. It isn't like they will cease to exist. Even if they did, what value is lost?

28 Name: Richard Feynman : 2006-03-06 23:08 ID:2uih0Oc7

Really, when it comes to English, I think the rules are just right. Yes, it's difficult to learn, but everyone knows that, and once you learn it's hard to forget all the quirkiness. Imagine if everyone were speaking Esperanto. If you're getting a bit rusty and you can't remember what to say, your friend will go "Oh, come on! This language is designed to be totally easy, and it only has 18 rules, and you can't even remember them?" But if you're speaking English, he says "Oh, it's like such-and-such. It doesn't make any sense, so don't worry, other people make that mistake too." So you feel encouraged.

This goes for programming languages, too.

29 Name: 23 : 2006-03-07 06:36 ID:yIraXMHZ

>>24
Thank you for the informed reply.

30 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-07 09:54 ID:PbjbhaTw

>it's logically the "Aborigines" languages that are being trampled underfoot, for example Nyangumarda has some 500-odd speakers left.

Half the problem with that is there are short of a hundred different Aboriginal languages. Up in the Northern Territory, mixing both local aboriginal with english is becoming almost like "singlish". Yes the "white fella" made most of them extinct but however where the "black fella" is majority, his language and a lot of bad english the the majority.

>>27 Language brings history. History brings knowledge. The rest should be self explanatory.

31 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-07 13:40 ID:pDY0/zmN

>>27

I'm pretty sure it's exactly like they will cease to exist, due to ceasing to exist. Unless I've missed some aspect of "ceasing to exist" where you don't actually cease to exist.

32 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-07 19:49 ID:Heaven

>>31
Just because there isn't someone that speaks the language doesn't mean it doens't exist. There are these things called 'books', have you heard of them?

33 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-08 10:16 ID:Heaven

lol put some parachutes on space shuttle so it doesn't blow up again k

34 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-08 21:13 ID:ljYr1eEy

>>32

Are you quite sure there these things called 'books', though? Do you really think these languages would be on the verge of dying out if they had a rich supply of written material?

And even if there were books in or about the language, it would be about as lively as a butterfly dipped in ethyl acetate and stuck on a pin.

35 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-03-18 07:33 ID:Heaven

>>32

Not all languages had/have a written system, nor does writing it down mean that the pronounciation, and normal devolopment of a language continues. See >>34's comment

>>And even if there were books in or about the language, it would be about as lively as a butterfly dipped in ethyl acetate and stuck on a pin.

The purpose and function of a language is to communicate, if people aren't using it for that purpose, it's ability to be used for that purpose diminishes.

36 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-27 22:20 ID:g8OVWFUL

I don't think English will ultimately be the final choice, simply because other nations in Asia and India are quickly catching up to the US in techonolgy and economy.

Secondly, I think a big influence will be the first nation to set up a colony on mars or the moon. The ability to do that means that that nation is going to have a lot of innovation and the wealth derived from space.

Or we could just vote on an interlang like esperanto or ido (ido is a better choice IMO) and not have to wait on "the fates"

37 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-04-28 19:41 ID:qhDvt8FX

lol esperanto

38 Name: Shii : 2006-05-01 03:02 ID:2uih0Oc7

> I don't think English will ultimately be the final choice, simply because other nations in Asia and India are quickly catching up to the US in techonolgy and economy.

... and learning English.

> The ability to do that means that that nation is going to have a lot of innovation and the wealth derived from space.

like what? (not like this topic is going anywhere anyway)

39 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2006-05-04 13:17 ID:IUZSxVK4

> Are we destroying variety

Why would we want to keep it in the first place? And how? Force kids to learn dying languages and let them learn a language relevant to the real world later?

PS comedy Volap√ľk reply

40 Name: Anonymous Linguist : 2007-10-25 18:32 ID:Heaven

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