printability and standardization

P. Kerim Friedman kerim.list at
Sun Jan 11 23:42:22 UTC 2004

I don't see what's wrong with pontificating against a community's
wishes, especially when one feels that a community is misguided. Isn't
it always in the interest of every community to have access to the full
breadth of knowledge before making a decision? Isn't it better to treat
all minority groups with the respect they deserve by offering our
opinions, rather than self-censoring on the basis of pre-conceived
notions about what information they may or may not desire to hear? Some
points to keep in mind:

(1) No community exists in isolation. Communities are exposed to a
tremendous amount of opinions about language in the media, by
politicians and educators, etc. Isn't it good to have some opinions by
language experts thrown into the mix?

(2) No community is homogenous. There are always factions within
communities, and these factions are always allied with groups outside
the community. If we make a judgment about what the community "wishes"
we are already making a  political decision regarding which factions in
the community we consider to be legitimate and which ones we do not.

(3) As long as pontificating is honest, what is the harm done? I agree
that so-called experts often claim to have far more knowledge than they
have. Issues such as mother tongue literacy are not as well researched
as they might be, and the conclusions of the existing research is far
from uncontroversial. But that does not mean that the ideas upon which
this research is based cannot be conveyed in an honest fashion.

(4) The work of current linguistic activists needs to be understood
within the historical context of policies that led to the current
situation. How does pontificating compare with policies aimed at
destroying languages, or which labeled students as learning deficient
because they couldn't speak the standard language? Surely there are
worse things than a little pontificating?


On Jan 11, 2004, at 5:46 PM, Christina Paulston wrote:

>  ALL I object to is pontificating social policies on linguistic
> grounds and against the
> community's wishes whether they be Quechua Indians, African-American,
> Hasidim Jews, etc etc.

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