LINGUIST List 13.915

Tue Apr 2 2002

Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <marielinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. A.F. GUPTA, Re: 13.878, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity
  2. Martin Ehala, Re: 13.898, Disc: Economic Value of Lang Diversity

Message 1: Re: 13.878, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002 15:04:10 GMT
From: A.F. GUPTA <engafgARTS-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject: Re: 13.878, Disc: Econonmic Value of Lang Diversity

Geoffrey Sampson said, "Latin is not a living language today, 
though English vocabulary contains an enormous number of Latin-
derived words". 

I agree that Latin does not live as a language through its words 
borrowed into English (etc.). But I think Latin IS still a living 
language, now known as 'French', 'Italian', 'Spanish', 'Rumanian' 
etc.. An illustration that the spread of a language (at the expense 
of other languages) doesn't necessarily lead to a monoculture. 

Humans group themselves in groupings that make social sense 
from one time to another. Geoffrey Sampson says: "Here in Britain 
the generations younger than mine seem to be junking all 
distinctive features of British culture wholesale, without even 
debating whether some of them might be preferable to what 
replaces them. These trends are happening mainly through 
individual choices in a free market; which makes it very hard to 
argue that they should not be happening." 

We have to accept that social patterns, and linguistic patterns 
along with them, do change, but the impulses towards unity and 
diversity are always there and will always result in social and 
linguistic usages that reflect group behaviour.

Anthea

 * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Anthea Fraser GUPTA : http://www.leeds.ac.uk/english/staff/afg/
School of English
University of Leeds
LEEDS LS2 9JT
UK
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Message 2: Re: 13.898, Disc: Economic Value of Lang Diversity

Date: Tue, 02 Apr 2002 17:53:31 +0300
From: Martin Ehala <ehalatpu.ee>
Subject: Re: 13.898, Disc: Economic Value of Lang Diversity

Given that the process of globalisation will continue, the present diversity of
languages is going to be reduced, no matter what measures are taken against it.
However, I think that the extent of this loss depends on whether any measures
are taken at all, or it is considered an area which should be regulated by the
free market forces only.

I think that the world community should take measures to preserve the linguistic
diversity, similarly as it takes measures to preserve our environment with its
biodiversity. The bad thing is that the world has recognised the need to spend
money or to restrict production to preserve the environment, but there little or
no understanding of the value of a diverse lingvironment.

I've been thinking of arguments that could persuade the large public and the
world's decicion makers, but I have to admit that there are almost no serious
ones. The only one that might have some weight is the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis: if
the language influences the way we understand the world, linguistic diversity
would enhance the global growth of knowledge which is the basis for all
technological and economic progress. Thus, the loss of linguistic diversity
would also reduce our chances of survival as species.

I think that it is up to us, the linguists, to try to rise the lingvironmental
awareness by presenting evidence that the loss of linguistic diversity will be
as damaging in the long run as the loss of biodiversity. But at present I am
even not sure whether the majority of linguists wouldn't consider the statement
above too radical.

Martin Ehala
Tallinn Pedagogical University
e-mail: ehalatpu.ee
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