language shift

Stan and Sandy Anonby stan-sandy_anonby at
Sun Aug 12 20:52:12 UTC 2007

Hi there Christina!

Thanks for the interesting perspectives. I guess it would be less tiring if 
we just went with the flow...


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Christina Paulston" <paulston+ at>
To: <lgpolicy-list at>
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2007 8:33 AM
Subject: Re: language shift

> Stab,
> 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, 
> Christina
> 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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