More listbiz

Megan Crowhurst mcrowhurst at MAIL.UTEXAS.EDU
Sat Nov 6 21:09:59 UTC 1999

Dear Flingstas,

One of the things we'll be doing as we change sites is updating the
welcome message, policy, etc.  It seems like a good time to say
something about messages in languages other than English now (we've
had one or two, one of them quite recently) and to solicit your
input.  When members have posted in a non-English language, we've
noticed that the authors have either apologized or explained, or
both.  That members have felt the need to do this has made us
uncomfortable, and so we wanted to raise the topic openly.
Obviously, the dominant language of the list is/has been English, but
there hasn't been a stated policy on the language of postings.  The
composition of this list, although heavy on addresses in
English-speaking countries, is truly international (and I'll get
around to posting those statistics one day soon).  We see no reason
why messages shouldn't be posted in languages other than English when
this is relevant, and feel that posters shouldn't necessarily feel
obliged to include translations in English. In any case, we recognize
that speakers of languages other than English are constantly under
the burden of communicating in English on this and other lists. A
suspicion, based on my own experience: could it be that we don't hear
more often from posters who may not be accustomed to writing in
English daily because it's  hard to toss off a quick message in a
second or third language when there are so many other things to do in
a day?  We guess that many (possibly most?) of the English speakers
on this list, as well as others, can at least read in certain other
Indo-European languages (and more in some cases). So, we wanted to
say that this is not for *policy* reasons an English-only list, and
we don't think it has to be one.  We don't want to get into details
of what can and what can't be posted. Theoretically, someone could
post something in Trukese or Shona, in which case many of us won't
understand it, and therefore, this use of a non-English language
would defeat the purpose of the posting, if the purpose is to
communicate something to the list.  But we believe that because the
point of this list is to foster some kind of dialog, posters will
write so as to be understood as broadly as they wish to be in the
context of their writing. What do you think?

Megan Crowhurst, PhD			Phone: 512-471-1701
Department of Linguistics		Fax:   512-471-4340
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  78712-1196

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