13.915, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

LINGUIST List linguist at linguistlist.org
Tue Apr 2 19:08:05 UTC 2002


LINGUIST List:  Vol-13-915. Tue Apr 2 2002. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 13.915, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

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1)
Date:  Tue, 2 Apr 2002 15:04:10 GMT
From:  "A.F. GUPTA" <engafg at ARTS-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject:  Re: 13.878, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

2)
Date:  Tue, 02 Apr 2002 17:53:31 +0300
From:  Martin Ehala <ehala at tpu.ee>
Subject:  Re: 13.898, Disc: Economic Value of Lang Diversity

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 2 Apr 2002 15:04:10 GMT
From:  "A.F. GUPTA" <engafg at ARTS-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject:  Re: 13.878, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

Geoffrey Sampson said, "Latin is not a living language today,
though English vocabulary contains an enormous number of Latin-
derived words".

I agree that Latin does not live as a language through its words
borrowed into English (etc.).  But I think Latin IS still a living
language, now known as 'French', 'Italian', 'Spanish', 'Rumanian'
etc..  An illustration that  the spread of a language (at the expense
of other languages) doesn't necessarily lead to a monoculture.

Humans group themselves in groupings that make social sense
from one time to another. Geoffrey Sampson says: "Here in Britain
the generations younger than mine seem to be junking all
distinctive features of British culture wholesale, without even
debating whether some of them might be preferable to what
replaces them.  These trends are happening mainly through
individual choices in a free market; which makes it very hard to
argue that they should not be happening."

We have to accept that social patterns, and linguistic patterns
along with them, do change, but the impulses towards unity and
diversity are always there and will always result in social and
linguistic usages that reflect group behaviour.

Anthea

 *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *   *   *
Anthea Fraser GUPTA : http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg/
School of English
University of Leeds
LEEDS LS2 9JT
UK



-------------------------------- Message 2 -------------------------------

Date:  Tue, 02 Apr 2002 17:53:31 +0300
From:  Martin Ehala <ehala at tpu.ee>
Subject:  Re: 13.898, Disc: Economic Value of Lang Diversity

Given that the process of globalisation will continue, the present diversity of
languages is going to be reduced, no matter what measures are taken against it.
However, I think that the extent of this loss depends on whether any measures
are taken at all, or  it is considered an area which should be regulated by the
free market forces only.

I think that the world community should take measures to preserve the linguistic
diversity, similarly as it takes measures to preserve our environment with its
biodiversity. The bad thing is that the world has recognised the need to spend
money or to restrict production to preserve the environment, but there little or
no understanding of the value of a diverse lingvironment.

I've been thinking of arguments that could persuade the large public and the
world's decicion makers, but I have to admit that there are almost no serious
ones. The only one that might have some weight is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: if
the language influences the way we understand the world, linguistic diversity
would enhance the global growth of knowledge which is the basis for all
technological and economic progress. Thus, the loss of linguistic diversity
would also reduce our chances of survival as species.

I think that it is up to us, the linguists, to try to rise the lingvironmental
awareness by presenting evidence that the loss of linguistic diversity will be
as damaging in the long run as the loss of biodiversity. But at present I am
even not sure whether the majority of linguists wouldn't consider the statement
above too radical.

Martin Ehala
Tallinn Pedagogical University
e-mail: ehala at tpu.ee

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