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#8 - 03/13/00 04:31 PM Words from newspapers of the world
Wordsmith Offline


Registered: 03/12/00
Posts: 125
English is a global language. With the rise of electronic communication,
worldwide trade and international travel, its status has far surpassed
that of a link language. English is equated with success. Wherever you go--
from the luxuriant rain-forests of Costa Rica to the untamed wilds of
Serengeti to the hodgepodge of Eastern bazaars--you're sure to find someone
who speaks English albeit in an accent far different from yours. If nothing
else, English makes a disguised appearance in hybrids such as Franglais,
Spanglish, Hindlish, etc.

Of course, this rise in popularity of English is not without a downside.
Talk with someone for whom English is not a first language and you sense
a feeling of loss. Reactions vary the gamut--from the trace of helplessness
of parents whose children can't appreciate a poem in their native language,
to lawmakers making it mandatory for a company to also have a Web site in
the language of their country before the company can do business there.

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you about this subject whether
English is your first language or not. Post your messages in this bulletin
board and this week taste some words taken from newspapers of the world.

#9 - 03/13/00 07:45 PM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
rbowen Offline

Registered: 03/13/00
Posts: 1
Loc: Lexington, Kentucky
Growing up in Kenya, it was interesting to see the reaction when people
found out that English was my first language. Some folks thought that it
was rather sad not to have a "mother tongue", because the mother tongue
is what gives you identity, and defined what "home" means. "I speak
English with you, but when I am home, I speak Kipsigis." To know only
English is to not have any heart language - you have to speak work-talk
and market-talk when you are with your loved ones. How impersonal.

It is deeply sad, I think, when parents don't teach their children their
mother tongue. It may seem unnecessary, and even impractical to them.
However, when a culture is lost, there's no way to regain it. And when a
language is extinct, there's no way to bring it back.

By telling the world that they have to know English to succeed, we've
killed many languages, and cultures, and changed others irretrievably.
It's very sad. And when I hear people refer to their own language, and
culture, disparagingly, that's very sad also. And, I find it sad that I
lost my distinct culture and language 6 or 8 generations ago. I would
love to speak Welsh, and know all about the Clan Bowen, but, alas, we
know almost nothing about the clan, and don't speak the language.


#10 - 03/14/00 06:57 PM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
Austri Offline

Registered: 03/14/00
Posts: 2
Loc: Pasay City, Philippines
I am from the Philippines. English is our 2nd language since the American came in 1896. I would like to know what you mean by Thread View 64 in the message index? I thought it was the number of threads or the number of words use.

Please explain.

Austri G. Basinillo
Austri G. Basinillo

#11 - 03/15/00 02:41 PM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
Jeanne Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 2
Loc: MA
Your words ring very true. In my culture, our Ancestral tongue was Yiddish. By the generation of my grandparents, it was used only to keep the children from understanding. By my Mother's generation she knows only some of the common expressions. I know even fewer of the expressions.

Parents, please expose your children to other languages and to your own native tongue. They will never be more open to learning languages than when they are really young and it will enrich their lives forever.

#12 - 03/16/00 05:42 AM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
My background includes having grown up in India, exposed to about four languages (besides English) on a regular basis: my 'mother' tongue - Malayalam; the 'national' language - Hindi; the state language - Marathi; and the language of the trustees who set up our school - Gujarati. I can only claim any literacy in Hindi, however, since I received the most formal training in that language.

Since my first language is English, I suppose I slip into the English arrogance/imperialistic attitude from time to time, and my opinions may well be coloured by that fact. I believe, however, that while the ongoing loss of linguistic diversity is sad, we would be ill advised to reject English on the basis of the need to retain identity or diversity.

The problem with cultural identity (and perhaps this is a wider subject than this forum may allow) appears to me to be identical (depending upon one's stance on this) with that of xenophobia: you cannot distinguish a cultural identity unless you show how some (or the majority) are excluded from that group. This, in my opinion, is one of the leading causes of the xenophobia that has resulted in the internecine conflicts that we still seem to see only too often (Yugoslavia, Sri Lanka, Northern Ireland etc).

I do not believe we can eliminate this 'exclusiveness' all together, nor that it would necessarily be a good thing. But I think it would be worth our while to mitigate its effects as much as we reasonably can. Unfortunately, the 'our mother tongue must thrive' brigade often seem to me to miss this point. Yes I regret, to a certain extent, the fact that I am not fluent in, nor literate in, Malayalam. But if I were offered that fluency and literacy as an alternative to the fluency and literacy have in English, then I would reject the offer. I am all for expanded horizons - but not when so many of these promises appear to be at the cost of actually limiting the horizons of those who 'should be native speakers' of a particular tongue.

My apologies if all this sounds a touch convoluted or disjointed. I suppose I might have summarised it as: keep English, but learn other languages by all means.


the sunshine warrior

#13 - 03/19/00 04:22 AM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
emanuela Offline

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 315
Loc: Italy - Perugia is a town with...
I am Italian, and Iearned my (poor) English mostly during a funny love with an American man.
This has been an interesting experience: there are things which can be explained easily in another language - "ocean", for example, but we had a problem with "groundhog".
Differences in languages often show cultural differences: for example, in Italian there is not an immediate translation of " I care", but there is one for "I absolutely don't care"!
I am enjoing now the quotes in the AWAD- archives, but in those translated from latin languages I feel sometimes that something is lost...
Even I like languages and words, I think that the language is not a perfect tool to understand and to communicate. Let me add a quote (Zen)
"The way which can be spoken is not the Way"

#14 - 03/19/00 11:58 AM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
aja Offline

Registered: 03/17/00
Posts: 6

It is my observation,that an accent is considered the equivalent of a handicap.For the same reason that an American does not inquire about a person's limp,that individual will not ask about the origin of an accent.
Is it a lack of interest,a measure of ignorance,or is it out of fear for stepping on unsollicited turf? After having spent many years in different countries,I still am pleasantly surprised,when somebody candidly acknowledges my accent.I wonder if my observation is a shared one?

#15 - 03/22/00 07:49 PM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
Regarding accents - I find them fascinating and often ask about an unusual accent. Am I politically incorrect?

In the UK the BBC, for example, has made a real effort to bring regional accents onto the radio and television. In these times of inverted snobbery I always consider my vaguely northen accent an asset and those born with a plum in their mouths find their offspring trading down to what is known as "Estuary English" - Sarf London and lots of glottal stops. Is there the same trend elsewhere?

#16 - 03/25/00 04:29 AM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
aumflower Offline

Registered: 03/25/00
Posts: 1
Loc: UK
I'm in exactly the same situation. Yiddish was the native tongue of my Great-Grandparents. My Grandparents spoke it fluently, as a second language, but crucially, 'NOT IN FRONT OF THE CHILDREN'. My parents only picked up a few common phrases, and I only know a few words.
This is a very sad situation and it is even sadder if other languages go the same way as Yiddish.
Incidentally, I don't know if you're aware of an excellent book: 'The Joys of Yiddish' by Leo Rosten.

#17 - 03/28/00 08:18 AM Re: Words from newspapers of the world
conscious Offline

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 7
I often inquire as to someone's accent. I really enjoy following up on finding out more about that person and the area he/she comes from, and this is a perfect way to get in to it. I never thought of it as politically incorrect, but I must say, I did cringe when Jimmy Carter used to pronounce "nuclear" nucular. Of course, this could have been plain old mispronunciation. Bill Clinton has his moments too. I think some accents change the language more than others, and a southern accent in the U.S. certainly tops the list.

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