A language kept alive on life support, literally

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Tue Jan 22 17:38:30 UTC 2008

Good point--nobody can deny that, historically, forced linguistic and 
cultural assimilation has been pernicious. 

At the same time, though, it seems clear enough that in the 21st century the 
indigenous cultures will continue to be eroded by the superculture, and that 
the complex task of learning a dying second language merely because one's 
ancestors knew it will seem like an irrelevant waste of time for young people, who 
must respond to their immediate economic and social needs and not the romantic 
notions of linguists and social engineers. This is largely why so many such 
languages died out in the twentieth century, and certainly why so many are 
endangered now. Fortunately, linguists do not have enough political power to make 
people (except their students at exam time) do anything that would be 
necessary to force people to learn dying languages. But then, prescriptivists usually 
lose, regardless of whether their motives are professional and elitist or (as 
in the case of linguists) professional and nostalgic.

In a message dated 1/21/08 2:30:24 PM, gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM writes:

> Historically, it's generally been the opposite: "You Indian, you better
> speak English and get rid of your unchristian ways". Today, I think it's
> safe to say that nearly every NA tribe in the US (for starters) has a
> program or a strong interest in reviving their language. I don't think
> there's any linguist trying to force native tongues on their peoples,
> but there are linguists working to preserve tongues that some  peoples
> aren't interested in saving just in case those peoples someday do want
> to revive them. BB
> Charles Doyle wrote:
> > In my Milton class, when asked to explain what the literary scholars (with 
> decorous Latinity) term Adam's "uxoriousness," I defined it (with decorous 
> clipping) as his being "whipped." The students, nearly all white, understood 
> immediately, perfectly, and guffawingly.
> >
> > But I agree with Wilson's (and Dennis B's) point about language 
> preservation. It's a form of prescriptivism: "You, little peasant native boy, ought to 
> talk like your great-grandparents!"
> >
> > --Charlie
> > ____________________________________________________________
> >
> > ---- Original message ----
> >
> >> Date: Sat, 19 Jan 2008 20:23:20 +0000
> >> From: ronbutters at AOL.COM
> >>
> >> Well, "pussy-whipped" is not an exclusively BE expression. It seems to me 
> likely that it did not even originate in BE.
> >>
> >> -----------------------------
> >>
> >> Wilson writes:
> >> there are even expressions in BE that can't quite be translated into sE, 
> e.g. "pussy-whipped" is not simply an obscene way of saying "hen-pecked."
> >>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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