Non-English postings

Ingrid Piller piller at UNI-HAMBURG.DE
Sat Nov 13 12:38:22 UTC 1999

Dear all,

I doubt that the use of languages other than English on this list (or
anywhere else in international communication) is less exclusionary than the
use of English. It has been suggested that most, if not all, list members
can read "certain Indo-European languages" other than English - I guess this
means Romance and Germanic languages. Personally, I don't see why it should
be more democratic on an international scale to replace English with another
European language. Particularly at a point in time when many L2 users have
invested heavily into their English. Also, it is exactly these languages
that are least under pressure from English, anyway.

Of course, it would be great for Fling to have a welcome message "postings
in any language welcome." What I resent a little bit is the assumption I
read out of some of the postings that we L2 users of English use English to
please L1 users of English. Well, that's not case - there are estimates that
two thirds of the communication in English on this globe is nowadays lingua
franca communication i.e. between L2 users of English. For instance, my
contacts and friendships with people from Iran, Romania or Poland just would
not be possible if it weren't for English. And I'm greatful for that. If I
started to use German on this list (which is presumably one of those
languages that "most of us" can read), this might be ok with the Americans
on this list (and register as diversity) but would it also be more welcoming
to members whose L1 is neither English nor German? I doubt it. As goes for
myself, I hardly ever read postings in French, for instance, because they
have "not for me" plastered all over them.

In international communication, where English has, for better or worse,
become a fact of life, it's not the use of English that bothers me - as
mentioned above I actually welcome it. What does bother me, however, are
some of the attitudes that go with it and that construe L1 users of English
as more legitimate users than L2 users. So, I'd find a welcome message that
states that Fling is an "international" list much more welcoming than one
that assumes that it is a US list where speakers of other languages can have
their little national corners, too.

That's my two cents. Have a great weekend, Ingrid

Ingrid Piller
Hamburg University

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