language shift

Christina Paulston paulston+ at
Thu Aug 2 15:33:17 UTC 2007

	as usual you ask difficult questions!  But I think you probably come 
up with the best answer yourself.  Think of Britain.  Since the 
invasion of the Germanic hordes (I am thinking of the Angles and the 
Saxon), part of - and that is an important proviso- the population has 
been steadily involved in some kind of shift, from the Gaelic lges of 
Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Manx and Cornwall to English, some of the 
upper classes to French (1066 and all that; the statutes of Kilkenny 
arounf mid 13oo's among other things exhorting the Irish to speak 
English was written in French)  from dialects to standard English, 
today from immigrant languages to English, and in revitalization of 
back to lges shifted from like Welsh, etc.  It is a steady  process of 
shift of various combinations of the population. Plus all the EFL 
populations around the world. Etc.  You can look at Sweden which most 
people think of as a homogenous population with the Saami shifting 
since the Middle Ages and still shifting; plus all the immigrants as 
well as the Finns  (in Sweden) shifting in spite of heroic efforts at 
mother-tongue maintenance, as well as the upper classes being virtually 
bilingual (tricky concept that) in English through educational efforts. 
Etc.  Take Alsace etc.  I get tired just thinking of all that shifting, 
On Aug 1, 2007, at 3:48 PM, Stan-sandy Anonby wrote:

> Hi All,
> I just thought of something, and wonder if anyone has any comments:
> I'm with Christina Bratt-Paulston that societal bilingulism is 
> unusual, and that the tendency is to shift to monolingualism in the 
> dominant language.
> I'm also with Joshua Fishman, who says the bulk of humanity has always 
> been bilingual.
> So, how do we reconcile these seemingly contradictory statements?
> Maybe it is the norm for human societies to be in language shift.
> Stan Anonby

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