printability and standardization

Joshua Fishman joshuaafishman at
Wed Jan 7 05:08:47 UTC 2004

The discussion of (non-)Standardization of Ladin
and the "reluctance" of the Italian government to
utilize it in print should remind us that print
and standardization are quite separate and
independent of each other. Many languages have
been printed (and, of course, also written) far
before their standardization and, indeed, their
use in print contributed greatly to their
ultimate standardization (viz. D-B Kerler 2003).
Of course, standardization did not rescue Latin,
Greek, Hebrew, etc. from disappearing as
vernaculars. It would be particularly
"indelicate" for the Italian government to snub
Ladin due to Ladin's lack of full
standardization, given the lack of full
standardization of Italian to this very day.
English too is far from being fully standardized,
which should lead most of us to be rather less
dismissive of Ladin for this same very human
"failing". All in all, "complete standardization"
is a will-of-the-whisp and some small languages
are far closer to this goal (acting on the
mistaken assumption that it will promote their
acceptance) than much larger ones who couldn't
care less. Joshua A. Fishman

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