LINGUIST List 11.1983

Tue Sep 19 2000

Qs: Native Lang Denigration,Multi-Lingual Wordlists

Editor for this issue: James Yuells <>

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  1. HMooney, Negative Views of Languages by Native Speakers
  2. Laila Lalami, Wordlists in Two Languages

Message 1: Negative Views of Languages by Native Speakers

Date: Mon, 18 Sep 2000 12:39:08 -0700
From: HMooney <>
Subject: Negative Views of Languages by Native Speakers

In response to an earlier query of mine, Douglas sent me an interesting quote
from Rousseau:

"There are some tongues favorable to liberty. They are the sonorous, prosodic,
harmonious tongues in which discourse can be understood from a great distance.
Ours [French] are made for murmuring on couches. Our preachers torment
themselves, work
themselves into a sweat in the pulpit without anyone knowing anything of what
they have said. . . . If a man were to harangue the people of Paris in the
Place Vendome in French, if
he shouted at the top of his voice, people would here him shouting, but they
would not be able to distinguish a word.... [P]eople in the rear of the room
strain to hear an
academician read a memorandum at a public assembly. If charlatans are less
common in the public squares of France than in Italy, it is not because they
would receive less attention in France, but only because they would not be as
well understood. . . . "

This reminded me of a purported remark made by Jorge Luis Borges, the great
Argentine writer, who was brought up in a multilingual household, but who chose
to write in Spanish. He said that he wrote in Spanish because that was the
language he felt most comfortable using. But he wished he could write in
English, which he considered a superior literary vehicle.

I'm wondering if there are other examples of this sort of thing, where a native
speaker of a language denigrates his own language.

I know it happens a lot when people are brought up speaking a so-called
"dialect" (like Venetian, Sicilian, or Low German). These people are tought a
"standard" language in school that is really a different language, and often
come to regard their own first language as inferior.

But the above examples are different. In both cases, the speakers are highly
educated and highly competent speakers/writers of the standard language itself,
and are comparing it to other standard languages. It's not an issue of class or
social position. It's a genuine assessment of a language vis-a-vis another
language, made by an "expert user," so to speak.

Does anyone have similar examples?

Hank Mooney
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Message 2: Wordlists in Two Languages

Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2000 10:36:55 -0700
From: Laila Lalami <>
Subject: Wordlists in Two Languages

Hi all,

Does anyone know where I might be able to get 'bilingual' wordlists? I am
looking for lists that map Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic or Portuguese
into either English or Spanish.

I will post a summary if there is enough interest.



Laila Lalami, Ph.D.
Manager, Semantic Indexing System
Oingo, Inc.
Fax: (310) 446 8172
Phone: (310) 446 8162
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