facts, Stegemann and Gupta

Anthea Fraser Gupta A.F.Gupta at leeds.ac.uk
Tue Mar 22 15:03:19 UTC 2005

I THINK (Paul, am I right) that all the extra languages that are listed
in the paragraph are languages that are not big enough to be listed in
the subsequent pages. That's why the bigger ones (like Tamil) come in
the listings. I think the scope of the 'also' is confusing, and must
presumably be unclear to many users of Ethnologue, but once you've
understood it it makes more sense.

I suppose there could be an arbitrary proportion of the population that
would trigger an entry in the listings. Though that would prevent some
very small and underprivileged groups (e.g. Jakun) being represented (I
think one issue here is the indigenous/immigrant dimension). But there
does seem to be no reason for excluding big groups such as Panjabi. I'd
like to see more upfront articulation of this stuff in the Ethnologue
website rather than us having to work it out for ourselves.

Another thing to consider in general is the extent to which foreigners
("people from Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand,
United Kingdom") should be included in these sketches. We can pretty
well assume that all countries will have some foreigners in them, and it
might just be easier (as in my Singapore text) to give some sort of
indication of the number of foreigners and identify any groups who are
especially numerous (such as people from South Asia in Qatar, for
example. I think (haven't checked this) that the most numerous
foreigners in Malaysia are Indonesians, though the fact that some of
them might be reluctant to be counted is a factor in estimating numbers!

My own feeling is to concentrate on citizens, but to give all citizens
equal treatment, regardless of where their ancestors came from.


*     *     *     *     *
Anthea Fraser Gupta (Dr)
School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT
NB: Reply to a.f.gupta at leeds.ac.uk
*     *     *     *     *

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
> [mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of
> Harold F. Schiffman
> Sent: 22 March 2005 13:56
> To: lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
> Subject: Re: facts, Stegemann and Gupta
> Dear Paul,
> I'm glad to see that it's possible to update and correct some
> of the listings in Ethnologue.  I just did a check on
> Malaysia, to see what it says, and the following statement I
> find a little strange:
> 	"Languages of Malaysia
> 	[See also SIL publications on the languages of Malaysia.]
>         National or official language: Malay. 21,410,000
> (1998 UN). Also
> 	includes Burmese, Western Cham, Chinese Sign Language,
> Malayalam 37,000,
> 	Eastern Panjabi 43,000, Telugu 30,000, people from
> Indonesia, Pakistan,
> 	the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Kingdom.
> Information mainly
> 	from S. Wurm and S. Hattori 1981. Deaf population
> 31,000 (1980). Deaf
> 	institutions: 5. Data accuracy estimate: B, C. The
> number of languages
> 	listed for Malaysia is 140. Of those, 139 are living
> languages and 1 is
> 	extinct. Diversity index 0.75."
> This is fine as far as it goes, but it lists small Indian
> language populations like Malayalam and Telugu, but fails to
> mention the over a million Tamil speakers.  True, the next
> page does mention the 1,060,000 Tamil speakers [or people of
> Tamil descent who declare it as their 'mother tongue'], but
> it seems strange that Eastern Panjabi and Telugu get more
> attention than the dominant Indian language. Then, on the
> next page (Peninsular Malaysia) it does go into further
> detail but then ignores Panjabi and Telugu etc.  Is this
> deliberate, or an oversight?
> Hal Schiffman

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list