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Education

Is The Internet Destroying Spanish? 426

Ant gestures ambiguously at this ZDNet Latin America story which reports the unhappiness of some academics with the increasing use of English or English-influenced words in the tech world, which they say is hurting the education of Spanish speakers. A short excerpt: "Some say the jargon of technology is destroying Spanish, and some are worried, including Odon Betanzos, president of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language. Betanzos recently sent an open letter to the other 22 academies worldwide. The letter raised a harsh cry in defense of the Spanish tongue."
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Is The Internet Destroying Spanish?

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  • Excellently written and thought out. I'm just posting to applaud your post. I made a previous one illustrating the differences between spoken from Mexican roots, and how the Spanish in Spain is prestige based. He went and called me a troll :).
    The main reason in which I am writing, I speak Spain-rooted Spanish (rather rusty, I haven't spoken more than a few words in years gone by.. still have it but I find myself forgetting words quite often :/) and around here (San Jose, CA) I get a lot of Mexican-Spanish speakers giving my quizical looks when I speak Spanish. Is it better to speak in English and have people struggle understanding, or speak in Spanish (Spain rooted) and have them understand but then seem to dislike me? I do know that I have an accent (in Spain, most think I'm french.. strange) but it just strikes me as odd the reaction I get.

    I remember a quote I heard that reminds me of this, "Never trust a gringo who speaks spanish, or a mexican who smokes cigars."

  • In India, the division of the country into states has been made on a linguistic basis; what this means is that if you travel from your home state to another, you won't be able to communicate with the locals. The most popular language in most parts of northern India is Hindi, and though it is considered by some to be a national language, there are areas in the south where people fanatically hate Hindi and have tried to ban its teaching in schools in the past. Including dialects and variants, India has over 800 languages IIRC.

    Fortunately for us Indians, our British rulers set up a system of English education before they left. The net result is that if you travel to any reasonably civilized city, you'll be able to get around knowing just English.

  • There are some differences between UK and Am. English vocabulary and pronunciation, but the core grammar, phonology, and morphology are 99% the same. It does not take long after arriving on the other shore to get the hang of understanding and being understood in the other variant.

    Its those slight difference in vocabulary that can catch the unwary.

    For example the following could lose the meaning in being translated between US and UK english (and vice versa):

    What a gay day

    Marks out of ten I'd give her one

    I'm just popping out for a fag

    'Bob'

    Give us an 'E' Bob

    franger banging

    Got any Vera's

    You're Mum

    Camper than a VW

    Your's looks a bit like Anne Widecambe

    Your tits have secondary harmonics

    Hmm I fancy a scooby snack

    shag

    John Thomas

    Unlike common US terms that anyone understands

    For example everyone understands WASUUUUUP!!!!

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @06:06AM (#586742) Homepage
    How is an influx of loanwords from other languages "destroying" Spanish? This happens all the time in other languages, and no one complains of them being "destroyed" on account of this, with the notable exception of French.

    English, in parrticular, seems to thrive on loanwords. Last I checked, it had over 40,000 from Japanese alone. Why is this the case? I don't know; perhaps it has to do with the diversity and melding of cultures in the US. Several other languages, such as Japanese, also readily accept loanwords, and we don't hear people crying out that loanwords are destroying their languages.

    The fact is, languages evolve over time, be that for good or for ill. Linguists have estimated that the longest any language has been able to survive without significant changes is roughly a thousand years or so. If you aren't willing to accept this, either you'll be branded as an arrogant, pretentious jerk (which you are, if you do this) or you'll find yourself left behind as the language changes around you.
    ----------
  • You hear the same things in Sweden, where I come from. And it's correct in a way, but it's (IMHO) both a good thing and impossible to stop.

    All through history language areas have been formed by practicality. Any area where communication is so developed that people need to talk to each other frequently enough, will develop at least a common second language that everybody uses when talking to other groups, or if the contacts are frequent and intense enough everyone will speak the same first language after a few generations.

    This is a good thing. Without it we would not be able to talk to most of the people we meet everyday.

    The situation at this time in history is that communications are developing very rapidly. People from different corners of the planet are talking to each other at an ever increasing rate.It is already clear that English will be the second language of the entire developed world soon. There is still not enough pressure to make it the first language of the world, but I think that if communications develop at this rate for a few more decades, it definitely will be.

    Already more than half of the 6000 languages spoken will not survive to the next generation- many due to pressure from Spanish. Of course, the small languages go first. Giants like Spanish will be around for a long time.

    Those who fight for the purity of their language often forget that their language area was formed in a similar way (if not through far more brutal ways), and if all languages had been preserved then, there might well be 5 or 50 languages spoken there now.

    And don't equate language with culture. Customs, religions and most of the other things that make up a culture are not language dependent at all. But do expect cultures to mix more and more as a result of the increasing communication as well.
  • the Spanish speakers of the world (and there are a lot of them) should focus their energy on making their economies more productive.

    As true as this is, but sadly, it seems it won't be tried.

    I'm not an econ or politics guy so I don't know why the economies of Spainish speaking countries aren't doing so well. Could it be culture? I think corruption of the governments comes into play here too.
  • by ContinuousPark ( 92960 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @07:34AM (#586755)
    Totally disagree. You're taking darwinian logic too far. There's a BIG difference between everyone knowing one same language to communicate between each other on a global basis (this, I agree it's necessary) and everyone speaking it on a daily basis. Why on Earth would you want to do that?, losing your very own metaphors, potential jokes, songs, hidden meanings.

    I think you ought to have more respect for your own language; there's got to be great literature produced for it that no one else can enjoy as much as you danish-speaking people do. That's important; that's part of your culture and defines who you are. It is NOT unproductive or stupid for everyone not to speak the same language.

    Let us translate your example to computer programming. "However, I woudln't mind if Perl was removed from the face of the earth. In fact, I woudln't mind of Lisp was removed from the earth (my programming language of choice). " That statement would instantly get you flamed by thousands of Perl and Lisp programmers who, although they know there are other options, choose to use this way to express themselves. And yes, it might be a real pain to read this guy's code when you have to mantain it or if it's been OS'd and you wish to modificate it. Or it may be frustrating because the program is written on Python and you don't know Python. BUT if it really mattered to you, you could learn that new language as many people I know who've gone to great lenghts to learn foreign languages so they can enjoy local literature without the distortions of translation. And yes, it's much harder to learn Portuguese than C (or maybe not) but it's a rewarding, culturally enriching experience.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @07:34AM (#586756)
    But which version of english?

    Do we stand in lines or queues?

    Do we go on holiday or on a vacation?

    We we watch or mind our step?

    While on vacation in London, the first day I was standing in line to buy a underground pass and some lady walked up and asked "Are you in the queue?"

    She had to repeat it four times before I understood what she was talking about.

    Of course my immediate reaction was to wonder if the queue was FIFO or LIFO. :)
  • by el_chicano ( 36361 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @06:29AM (#586764) Homepage Journal
    If you want more Spanish on internet sites & in tech jargon, then have more Spanish speaking people &/or companies come up with devices & give them Spanish names & slowly let it infiltrate into mainstream tech jargon.
    You have to remember that these guys are academics, who are interested in the PURITY of the language, so they are somewhat removed from most speakers of that language. I am sure they are equally aghast at words like "enchorito" which sounds like it came from the fevered mind of a Taco Hell [pocho.com] market-droid on acid!
    If you *live* in the U.S. you *NEED* to learn English, not expect Americans to learn Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, etc...
    Why? Is the average American so much dumber than the average European? Or many Canadians and Latin Americans? Or me? :-> I think the reason more Americans don't learn other languages is sheer intellectual laziness...
    We simply cannot learn that many languages to accomodate so many foreign cultures, but the immigrants can afford to learn one language if they choose to live here!
    Hmmm.... I've heard those words somewhere before... Rush? Pat? Adolph?
    When you move to another country, they aren't required to adapt to you at all, but if you want to have *ANY* hope of fitting in & making a life for yourself, you *MUST* learn at least their language & a lot of their customs (as long as said customs don't compromise your values).
    So as long as I learn English I don't have to accept any American values that conflict with my polygamous cannibalism? Cool!
    And for any who might be lame enough to say it, *NO*, learning a new language is not compromising values.
    Is true if you are an immigrant but apparently it isn't for those lucky enough to be born in the US.

    You DO know that there is no offical language in the US, don't you? You do know that the current de facto language de jour (English) may not remain the one in the future? You do know that we Chicanos are breeding like rabbits? You do know that we are sneaking all of our cousins across the Rio Grande? [rushlimbaugh.com] :->

    If affirmative action was in vogue, maybe Intel would hire lots of Latinos and have them design chips. Maybe then they could name some of the discoveries and products in Spanish.

    The new Intel "Caliente" -- Ouch, Hot, Don't Touch! There's truth in marketing for you! :->
    --
    You think being a MIB is all voodoo mind control? You should see the paperwork!
  • There once was a poet from Sufi
    Who went by the first name of Rufi.
    He composed in Persian
    'cause the Sufi version
    Paid even less than Bababufi.
  • For you Francophones out there, if I seem misinformed, please excuse the ignorance of an Anglo from Ontario.

    And don't get me wrong, if I was going to move to Canada, I'd probably brush up on my french to the point of some fluency in it.

    Considering that most Canadians don't have much fluency in it, I wouldn't worry too much about it unless you intended to settle in Quebec.

    This seems particularly true as you go west. My friend from Alberta only had to do 1 year of French (only in grade 9), whereas in Ontario it seems to vary from 6 - 7 years (grade 3 or 4 to grade 9).

    In Quebec however, you can only go to an English primary school if 1 of your parents went to an English school. Otherwise, you must go to a French school. This, plus legal protections, is among the reasons why French remains so strong in Quebec. Yet many francophones come into Ontario to learn English -- there of a lot of French girls who take on nanny jobs.

    On the other hand, if you go East, the language devolves into some incomprehensible Martime dialect. Noo doot aboot it. ;)

  • Here in Houston many of the Black ghettos are next to barrios, and many of the young Latinos speak English with a Black English Vernacular (aka Ebonics) accent.

    Just to clarify, Black English Vernacular is not an accent; it is a complete and separate *dialect* of English. Most Linguistic associations have classified it as sucg, just like Parisian French, Quebec-French, American-English, Cockney-English, Standard-English (aka King's English) etc.

    Black English has a similar but different phonology (acceptable sounds), morphology (acceptable word-formations) and syntax (acceptable sentence structure) than Standard English. It has some grammatical cases (such as the habitual case) which do not exist in other English dialects, but do exist in West African languages.

    I do not recall what (if anything) the official linguistic stance is on Spanglish, but I do know that it has been investigated, and that some linguists consider it a dialect.

    As both Spanglish and Black English evolve, they may both acquire enough independance from Standard English to be considered separate languages.

  • Well, if you read just that first little book of the Bible, there's a story in there that languages were created (and splintered and fragmented) for a reason: to prevent us from all working together towards a common goal.

    Was this a good thing or a bad thing?

    Just the horrid image in my mind of a Domino's Pizza logo across the surface of the moon, makes me consider; gee, that God dude was a pretty smart guy.
  • Can I rant for second? Godwin's law (paraphrase: "if you bring up the Nazis, you've lost the argument") is utterly ludicrous. If the usage of the Nazis in an argument makes a case for something, then it makes the case. It's as if to some people Hitler and the Nazis are just a fictional novel with no historical or educational value at all.

    To all those who cower in fear of using a Nazi example because of the Godwin Law idiocy, please, be my guest and use it to your heart's desire. The only people who follow The Law are people who can't defend themselves against a powerful argument.


    --

  • I agree, except that english needs to be modified before this happens. We need to move towards a language that has strict rules (their would then be spelled thier... I before E... PERIOD!) and/or more a more phonetic language.
  • . If you decide to call the thingamabob over there a wongle and everone else agrees, it is called a wongle foreverafter until folks decide that it should be called something else.

    Unless you're France. Every time the English language gets a little too noticable, the French government passes another law trying to command the tide to recede. They hated the idea of calling CDs CDs, so they came up with some new Frenchified term that by law had to be used in newspapers, books, ads, etc. The world had a good laugh at that one.

  • Hey, finally a story I can comment on as a Spaniard!

    I think the problem here is not that the Spanish tongue may just disappear, which doesn't seem very probable at the moment, as many have pointed out. The problem is fragmentation; for languages spoken over wide areas and different cultures, such as Spanish, there is always the danger that with time they may diverge, eventually becoming different languages. That would be disadvantageous for all the Spanish speaking people, as the worth of speaking any given language depends on the people you can communicate to using that language.

    American English doesn't face that problem, since there is a strong culture and communication industry that will encourage the existence of a standard, although changing, language. I don't think Spanish is in the same case, and the problem of fragmentation might be very real.

  • I'm a bilinguist american, rare eh?
    I started learning Mexican-Spanish, and quickly changed to proper Spanish (Spain roots) and have studied it ever since. I do have to agree with points that proper spanish is definitely creeping into the backgrounds, while mexican-spanish is still quite prominent.

    What's the difference you ask? Take the difference between American-English and England-English, somewhat quite similar. I believe that Spanish rooted in Spain sounds much more intelligent, smooth, and educated - just my $0.02c - however biased I am from spending most my childhood learning it.

    I have to say I think this article is bunk though. Go spend some time in Spain -- while everybody speaks Spanish (excepting Barcelona.. not even getting into that discussion) most speak 2 to 3 languages fluently. I'd say probably 60% of people speak Spanish and French that aren't in retail, 95% of retail people speak spanish and english.

    Then you have the issue of Spanglish, the mixture of the two languages. Which I dont think is a massively bad thing, but I think is inevitable. When building a global culture, whoever has the biggest vote gets their way. So what happens? Most languages die out in that culture, except the super powers.
    Be prepared to start speaking a mixture of American, Chinese, and Japanese - as they are the tech super powers now.

  • Language has far more grammar (word order, verb tensing, gender, agreement, etc.) and phonology (how the sounds combine with one another in a meaningful way) as it does morphology, and morphology includes a bit more than just the lexicon (dictionary/vocabulary). And, this is how English adopts so many foreign words and still remains English. There was some very interesting "congealing" of French with English in the years following the Normon conquest of 1066AD, but the language remained essentially and recognizably English just the same.

    Yet, English has morphed a lot in a fairly short time. Fast enough that Shakespere sounds quite strange to many English speakers. Beowulf as originally written is totally incomprehensable (I've tried. Knowing some German helped a lot more than English did. I can't say that I comprehended more than a word here and there).

    Spanglish will most likely work both ways too. I don't see that as a bad thing at all.

  • by b0z ( 191086 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @06:38AM (#586793) Homepage Journal
    That's not a very good arguement in my opinion. Let me turn it around for English:

    I live in texas, and I know a lot of english speakers (I speak a very tiny amount myself). English is a myth, there is no "English" language anymore. The "problem', if you wish to define it as such, is that it has mutated heavily in the Americas away from "Proper English" (ie. european or "high" english), and within the Americas the differences between, say, the northern U.S. speech in Boston (northern U.S. town) and in Nashville are larger than you would expect (I seem to recall that "tar" was a black sticky substance in New York and a thing you put on the wheel of a car in Alabama, or some such, as an example). This has been occuring long before tech jargon. The differences have grown to the point that the european and american versions of the tongue are almost mutually unitelligible (according to my sources anyway). It must be emphasized that this "blurring" was I think due more to migration than contact with other languages. (Not to say that that didn't play an important role as well, within 100 miles in either direction of the U.S.'s French, Spanish, English, and Dutch borders, pretty much everyone is in linguistic euilibrium between many tongues, "American English" as it's referred to.

    Seriously, the tar example happened to me after moving to the south. It confused the hell out of me when I was working at Sam's Club and a guy was asking where he could get tar from. However, I think even though there are differences, I can understand the British (their language, not their minds), the Australians, Canadians, etc. It is the same with Spanish. Even though I know Spanish as my second language, I can understand someone from Los Mochis and how they sort of pronounce their "ch" as "sh", and in Guadalajara (which sounds normal to me) and even someone from Spain (but their lisp on the letter "d" sounds like faggy Spanish IMHO.) I even understand a little Italian and Portugese because of the Spanish I know. I do agree that this guy is a purist, and copying the French. I do think the Spanish speaking people have a lot of pride in their culture, including their language but sometimes pride gets in the way of intelligence.


  • As a reflex of this simplicity, people often reject other languages, claiming these are unnecessarily complex.

    One

    I assume by "people" you mean Americans and by "reject" you mean choose not to learn adequately or at all. In which case I can assure you that many Americans "reject" other languages because environmentally and politically it's easy to do so. We don't live in an environment, many of us, in which being multilingual is particularly valuable, and our society doesn't really demand it. Am I proud of that, as an American? No. I think it's pathetic. I do think it's accurate though.

    Two

    Language is an inherently complex phenomenon. We could debate all day the relative complexities of our mother tounges.

    However, it's a-whole-nother fucking thing to call someone elses mother tounge "baby-talk." I suppose you may feel juvenille speaking our mother tounge sometimes becuase you don't speak it as well as a native speaker does. I have this experience in my second langage. But that doesn't mean you have the right to marginalize our langauage. I'm sorry if you feel any Americans have insulted your language by action or directly through speech. That's reprehensible. Unfortunately, you're doing it to my language, and so you're the reprehensible one now.

    Three

    Anyone who honestly believes the language of Shakespeare and Joyce is "babytalk" is a fool.

    ____________
    That said I do think that the english-centric net will be more multilingual in the future, and I think that's a good thing. Perhaps it will even encourage Americans to foster a more multilingual society, and perhaps we'll be more culturally rich for it.
    ____________

  • I'm not going to go in and refute your points, but you are a paranoid racist and don't realize it. The majority of the points you mentioned are the same as what the KKK uses to justify their racism. Now, as someone that comes from a mixed background I do see both sodes well enough to know that the battle is between the insane. White racists, black racists, latin racists, you all use the same things to justify your hatred rather than learn to get along with each other. Before you tell me I am a crazy gabacho, you are only partially correct. However, when I see a person, I see them for who the individual is, not the color of their skin or where their ancestors are from. Learn to care, not hate.
  • by grappler ( 14976 )
    Language is, and always has been, a living, breathing thing.

    Take Latin - it used to be THE language for all things philosophical, scientific, or otherwise academic. If you were a preist, monk, doctor, or other learned member of society, you knew latin.

    But it's spoken and everyday use waned until the language died - there are no more "latin speaking" parts of the world. Now, you learn it if you want to a) Learn roots of various words, b) Study languages in general, because language itself is your interest, or c) read through academic/religious material published hundreds of years ago.

    But is there a group of people that are upset that latin died? Not that I'm aware of. People speak what they speak. If the internet pushes the world into a slang mixture of English (with usa, brit and aussie influence), spanish, and japanese, rife with L337 VVR171NG that will be what people will be used to and the english of today will look to them like the King James Bible (which sounded normal at the time it was translated).


    -------
  • If anything, Spanish has had its run. It was a dominant language of the new world and far east as well as 8 reales (ree-ALE-ayz) the coin of international commerce between 1600's and 1800's (I have many examples with chinese merchant marks on them.) Sad to see how quickly one forgets that the invader doesn't just change the invaded, but is in turn changed by the invaded.

    On a lighter note, nothing pollutes the english language like desperate Scrabble© [scrabble-assoc.com] players.

    --

  • by SPrintF ( 95561 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @08:05AM (#586806) Homepage
    the French tried (and managed) to prevent the linguistic
    tsunami
    Interesting that you should use a Japanese word that was imported into English to describe the "Anglicization" of language.

  • I don't know about any of you, but I rather enjoy the irony of the fact that English is fast becoming the Lingua Franca.

    But seriously, the greatest benefit to mankind from the internet and computerization is enhanced communication. Geography means nearly nothing to an email or to surfing a web page (though, poor infrastructure(sp?) certainly does)... you certainly can't tell if I'm Black, White, Hispanic, Oriental, etc... without digging a little. (Yes, I know that it's more likely that I'm hispanic if I regularly visit spanish-language sites)

    So, if one of the not-directly technology-related changes brought about by the internet is to break down language barriers between people whether they be next door or halfway around the world, I think it's a good thing.

    Though, selfishly, I am kind of happy that the language in question is one that I can already read, write, and speak, and that being the case, my argument is somewhat suspect.

    +++++++++++++++++++++

  • Is how do you stop it from happening with another language? Lets say that the internet does become more spanish friendly; What about other languages? As for th education of spanish speaking students I believe that the internet can only helps with slang, technical jargon etc. The IT industry is a largely English speaking medium and thats because it was invented by English speaking people. What you need is more people willing to have diff lang based websites. That's all. Its rather simple; shoot off an email to a webmaster saying you'd like to know if he'd like his/her site converted into spanish or german or french and offer your services. If you aren't willing to help with the problem then don't cry about it.
  • Recently there was a discussion on TV about the Internet destroying the Dutch language, how the Dutch language is becoming increasingly laced with English words. But Dutch has always been influenced by other languages, and it has always survived. Many words that are accepted as perfect Dutch by everybody alive today come from French, laced into Dutch during the Napoleonic occupation. Similarly some German words filtered into Dutch during the German occupation. The Internet occupation will probably do the same: some English terms will filter into Dutch, but the Dutch language will continue to live on.

    The same will happen to Spanish. You cannot force languages. Languages will always evolve, will always be influenced by its neighbours. The Internet has made English every language's neighbour, so it's only logical that all languages on earth start adopting English words and terminology.

    But also other stuff. In Dutch, people say "zie je", a literal translation of "see you" more and more often, while it is totally incorrect as pure Dutch. Words like "hi", "okay", "shit" and "fuck" have been seeping into Dutch for many decades already. The world is changing, and languages are changing with it. Languages have always changed, have always adopted, and have always survived. Spanish, Dutch, German, French, Italian, Greek - they'll all survive the Internet, I'm sure of it, but they won't be quite the same either. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

    )O(
    Never underestimate the power of stupidity
  • Your figures are wrong. While English is still the most-used language on the internet, ". . .the Internet IS becoming increasingly multinational, with English-speaking surfers dwindling below the 50% mark [compaq.com]".
  • I don't know how some of you in the rest of the US feel, but even in Minnesota I'm coming to realize that Spanish would be very useful. We've had a large influx of Spanish speakers (primarily Mexicans, I think, but "they all sound alike" to abuse a cliche) and in some situations its becoming kind of hard to deal with service people, especially in the downtown Minneapolis area, because they speak English so poorly and I don't speak Spanish at all.

    I can't tell the cleaning people in our office what to do with boxes and so on, many of the restaurants I eat lunch in the people behind the counter are almost exclusively Spanish speakers. I've learned that I need to order a grande drink; I order a large and I get a small!

    I'm in SoCal on business right now, and I don't see how you can function well without speaking some Spanish here, and Chinese and Vietnamese would be good too.

    One thing that I find somewhat troubling though is my perception of a lack of desire to speak English by the Spanish speakers that have moved to MN. Minnesotans I've spoken to the immigrated from Germany, Poland, Norway and the like have told me pretty universally that they faced a lot of peer pressure from members of their own ethnic group to NOT speak their native tongues when they got here.

    One woman said that some of her Polish-immigrant friends that spoke better English would quickly upbraid her in Polish and then switch to English immediately when she would converse with them in Polish in public. She would ask a question of them in Polish and they would respond something like "dumb pollack!" in Polish and either answer her question in English or refuse to answer until she tried to do it in English. What's interesting about this is that it was peer-originated -- it wasn't a non-Polish speaker doing it to a poor, struggling Pole.

    I don't see that attitude among Spanish speakers in Minnesota, and I think it bodes ill for them in the long run because they'll stay at the bottom of the economic ladder and people like me that may desire them for their work habits or skills will have to look them over because of the communication gap.
  • > The sucess of English will be it's downfall. Just like Latin splintered into hundreds of languages, English will follow

    Perhaps you've noticed that communication technology is a little more advanced than it was 2,000 years ago? You might want to revise your predictions in the face of trivial things like technology.
  • Regarding your situation, you can learn enough Spanish just to get around with service workers in a couple of months. Spanish is really quite easy to pick up. I suggest you look around for night schools or the like and try learning Spanish after work a couple nights a week. You'll be glad. Not only will you be able to communicate with more people in your own home town, you'll have access to Spanish-language news.
  • I am soooo pissed off at all of those people out there that tie their language to their culture and then their culture to their identity. I see this the most in chicano and french writing. This does not have ANY positive effects. All this does is make people close-minded and against change all because they want to "preserver their culture." Whatever...

    We aren't saying, you must give up all of your holidays, cultural events, history and ancestry. But is absorbing 100 or so english words to make communication easier over the internet THAT big a deal? Is it really going to DESTROY your culture? I don't think so...

    Eventually EVERYONE will be on the internet and EVERYONE will be able to communicate. So, shouldn't we have some kind of common vocabulary we can use to discuss things?

    Justin Dubs
  • This backlash against the English language [?] must be taken in a wider context. English is silently creeping its way to Absolute World Domination, IT being only its last (and most powerful) Trojan horse.

    Ummm...it's scary to know that there are people who have this opinion. I hope you were being sarcastic and that it was lost on me this early in the morning. English is not a being, so it is not "creeping" and it is not trying to dominate the world. It is a way of communication. You also made some valid points how the majority of documentation for computer related materials is in English.

    By your standards, whenever we make a website we should translate it into every language, such as the languages the Pigmy tribe in Africa speaks just so we can be fair. Why is there so much English in technology? Because a lot of it is from the U.S. While we might be nice enough to translate it sometimes, we are going to release documentation and use terms we come up with. If you don't like that, you are free to write your own documentation or come up with your own terms but don't expect anyone else to use them just because you don't like the English versions.

    If you feel that English is dominating the world, it is because that is what people want to speak. Right now, the U.S. is a very central point for technology. There is a lot of money here, a lot of resources (human and materials) so it is pretty far ahead of most countries in Technology. The reason we have more documentation in English instead of Japanese for example, is that the U.S. is where the internet came from, as well as such useful things as TCP/IP, unix, Windows, Macintosh, etc. I won't ignore that other countries are very significant in the technological world. I think if Japan were to fall off the face of the Earth, we'd all be in danger of losing our jobs. Also, a lot of good research and development goes on in Europe. Various European countries seem to come up with some really cool stuff that the U.S. doesn't implement or use for years after it can be used. I am aware that a European man (I forget what country though) came up with the concept of the world wide web.

    Anyways, if English is "invading" your country, it is because you, your family, coworkers, friends, and neighbors want it to. Noone is forcing you to do business with the U.S. I find your logic to be extremely flawed. Almost as flawed as that of an American. ;-D

  • CmdrTaco's mother has an equal and opposite concern. "I named him Robert, but the increasing use of spanish words in catering unhappily has influenced him to adopt a cod-spanish nickname", she said, gesturing ambiguously at a passing penguin.

    I'm afraid the infiltration of english into other languages is one of those shit-happens things. In so far as English happily adopts any language it can lay its hands on, one has to advise the Spanish to get over it. The North American academics protest does seem a little reactionary; one is tempted to advise him to visit south-east Europe for a sojurn; I hear Spanish is flourishing in that area.

  • by Mantle ( 104724 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @02:55AM (#586844)
    I don't think it's a big deal using english words in normal foreign language speech. I am a Cantonese speaker and this type of thing has been happening for years, even before the web explosion of the 90s. We call it "Chinglish". It's not a big deal.

    Languages change and evolve. Lots of words in english come from other cultures and languages. What's wrong with english words being used in other languages?

    If this technological "Spanglish" continues to spread, wrote Betanzos, Spanish as such may not survive.

    Of course. No language can survive if it doesn't change.

    Mantle

  • I wrinkled my nose in disgust at that article.

    It's just a raving pile of foolishness. The author clearly as no idea as to the effects of technology on language.

    First of all, many Spanish-speaking nations aren't pumping out lots of new, headed-for-mainstream technologies. I'm sure if I'd be using a computora if IBM was located in Mexico City or we'd have a Manzana Impermeable if Steve's last name was José. The bottom line here is that the US is one of the countries that acts as a spear-head in developing technologies for the information age. Things that become mainstream tend to get the name given by their native languages stamped on those items. Since most of the computer technology in use today was made in the US, it's fitting that it's called by the names we give it all around the world.

    Secondly, Spanish is not the only language being effected. My roommate is nihonjin (a Japanese person). He uses english terms for everything technology related (as they do in Japan) even when speaking in his native language? Why? Because they're smart enough know that it's just plain stupid to create new terms for things that already exist. The author states that this is about distinction. Just plain wrong. It's about REDUCING CONFUSION (which is more important anyway).

    Ugh. This post was full of venom, but only because this article was so fscking retarded. It doesn't do any good to bitch about stupid shit like this - especially when it has no benefit if enacted. Come on! What benefit would there be to me calling a tamagachi a "pocket friend" instead? Or how about calling my Nintendo a "family computer"? Cripes Ana Luisa Herrera. You don't hear english speakers bitching about more and more spanish words are seeping into english. Are you so stupid that you can't understand that language 'contamination' is essential to the evolution of language?

    Blah. There's no sense arguing. Everyone wants special treatment. Nothing I say will stop that.


  • You are correct regarding Latin, except that 2000 (or even 1000) years ago, communication was a bit different from what it is today: you wouldn't buy in London (or say Lutetia, I am not sure if London existed 2000 years ago) a newspaper published in Rome, or telephone your girlfriend in Bombay...

    Today, we have instantaneous access to whatever is said or written in the most remote parts of the world. This is certainly a major factor of "mondialisation" (don't know the word in English). In other words, there are and will be differences in the way a "universal" English language will be spoken and written, but the core of the language will be and remain reasonably universal, at least enough for everybody to understand the general meaning.

    Interestingly, the major risk of deviation exists in the USA, not elsewhere, because most Americans don't know foreign cultures, don't care for them and are happy to distort their own language beyond recognition. Compare the English spoken in 1940's and 1950's American movies with the standard language spoken today in many US states. The old movies were speaking a language much closer to the Queen's English than today.

    As far as other, non-native speakers of English are concerned, they need some standard model to adhere to, and this model will probably not be South Dakota farmer's English. Rather, it will be a sort of universal English as taught in the school, with possibly little reference to American or British culture.

    I prepared my own website in English, because I wanted it to be accessible to the largest number, even if my 75% of my visitors are French speakers. I could have done it - with lots of efforts - in Spanish, which is claimed to be the second language in the world after Chinese and before English, but I know I have a better chance to be understood in English than in Spanish.

    This is just pragmatism.

  • You basically just proved his point.
  • First the French complain about the corruption of their language, now the Spanish, who is going to be next, Californian surfers?

    I propose a Californian surfer's academy to lay down phraseology to ensure that no un-cool dudes corrupts our language. Ya know just like those awesome French dues have.

  • Interesting take. My sense though is that the survival of languages is based more on politics than the merits of the language.

    English is prevalent today because the English founded so many colonies, not because it was superior.

    Hebrew was brought back from the dead because one guy made it his quest to do so.

    On the other hand, only "dead" languages rigidly adhere to a standard.
  • This kind of thing's happened before. Greek became the principal language of the eastern Meditteranean, Latin became the principal language of academics in the Middle Ages, French became the principal language of diplomacy. Now it's English's turn; in a hundred years it'll change to Mandarin or Hindi or Spanish. Unless a language is spoken only by a relatively small group of people, the chances are pretty slim it will be eradicated so easily.
    --
  • Your figures are wrong. While English is still the most-used language on the internet, ". . .the Internet IS becoming increasingly multinational, with English-speaking surfers dwindling below the 50% mark".

    Actually, you are misinterpreting data yourself.

    I do agree that the internet is becoming very multinational, however, that little snippet raises a few questions:

    - English speaking surfers...does that mean English as a first language, or just people that understand it at all?

    - The part about dwindling below the 50% mark...saying that English is the most used language on the internet, is not saying that the majority of websites out there are in English. A majority would be over 50% if I am correct. However, what the person stated in the parent post, was that it is the most used, as opposed to the smaller percentages of Spanish, Dutch, German, Japanese, etc. However I would disagree with even that English has less than 50% of websites out there. I think the statement would be better translated to:

    "The internet is becoming increasingly multinational, with people that speak English as their first language making up less than 50% of the total of all internet users."

  • by Webmonger ( 24302 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @07:01AM (#586861) Homepage
    By your arguments, English should never have survived. Back when the Normans ruled England, English was the "local tongue" (they called it the vulgar tongue), and French was the language of the "cultural/technical/administrative elite".

    But it turned out to be a Conan thing. Norman occupation of England didn't kill English, it made it stronger. The peasants who used the vulgar tongue weren't too proud to borrow terms from French and Latin, and the variety of synonyms in English is partly because of that.

    So history does NOT say that English will kill Spanish.

    It might. But it might make it stronger.
  • > "One world, one economy, one language" (I wonder what it sounds like in German ?).

    You want to know? In german it would sound like this: "Eine Welt, eine Wirtschaft, eine Sprache" (You like it? ;-)

    I agree to your post. I'm german and I know and like english very much. I'm always torn between writing things in english, because everyone knows it, and german because it would somehow help it form disappearing on the net. There is no real way to solve this but write things in both languages (and that is far more work somehow... =\ )

    Bye, David
  • My first language, Russian, is also being "polluted" by computer terminology. For some words, it's easier to say the English term we use so often already. For others, a word simply does not exist.

    One may look at this as language pollution. On the other hand, is it really so bad for languages to blend together? Wouldn't this eventually solve the age-old Babylon problem? If the politicians don't divide the Internet up along country borders, this just may happen.

    --

  • The reason for this is that it's simply stupid and unproductive for everyone not to speak the same langauge. At the time, the only language that seems to have the possibility of becoming a truely universal language is English, so I hope more people will talk English.

    Either unaware or blissfully ignorant you've chosen to ignore 4000 years of linguistic development.

    Does it sound at all plausable that 2000 years ago, people were clamoring over Latin being the universal language, just like you are clamoring over English as a universal language?

    English is destined to fail, much like Latin, as a 'universal language'.

    Here's the example of Latin:

    As more and more people spoke it, they each brutalized the language a little differently -- a little colloquism here and there, different stresses on syllables etc...

    It grew to the point where Latin wasn't really latin anymore. Out of this grew the romance languages. From one root, came French, Italian, Spanish etc...

    Now look at English. As more and more people speak it, they brutualize Standard English. The English spoken in Malaysia is nothing like the English spoken in Vermont. It's not english, it's malaysianglish.

    People argue "Oh, but they just have bad accents." WRONG. They are speaking English using the pronunciation rules of Javanese (langauge of Malaysia). Further, words and phrases completely unknown in English are used.

    The sucess of English will be it's downfall. Just like Latin splintered into hundreds of languages, English will follow. The world most of you envision, one cleverly ripped off from Lennon's Imagine, is that of everyone with a flower on their lapel speaking English.

    The reality is that the English spoken in South Dakota will be vastly different from the English spoken in China -- it is an entirely different dialect.

    Look no further than the US. Take that South Dakotan and place him in the South Side of Chichago. Do you think he is going to understand a word of English spoken there? Hell no. It's english, but it's an entirely different dialect.

    That's your Brave New World. Piss on unity. We're heading toward a day of thousands of languages and dialectss, WITH NO COMMON GROUND.
  • And we sure as hell will continue to pronounce words without the "lisp" that Spaniards use to separate themselves from us "uneducated" Chicanos and Central and South Americans.
    This, sir, is pure bunk. It is wrong in so many ways, it's hard to know begin. First of all, it's not a lisp--it's not a speech defect or impediment. It's not related to education level. And it's not global to all of Spain. And it's certainly not something that's done to enforce some sort of cultural separation.

    Let me try to summarize this briefly.

    In old Spanish, there were six sibilants. These lost their voicing, and collapsed into just three: let us call these S1, S2, and S3. S1 was originally a medieval affricate /ts/, but became a dorso-alveolar or laminal /s/ sound. S2 was a less common apico-alveolar /s/ sound. S3 was a palatal /S/ sound (somewhat like as in "sh" in English "ship"). If you don't know the difference between "dorso-alveolar" and "apico-alveolar", don't worry about it; just trust me that they aren't very far apart from one another.

    When two or three sounds are this similar, something has to give. Either they grow closer and merge, or they grow further apart from one another. The seseo phenomenon is the first effect--that is, merging, wheras the differentiation of standard (read: Northern) Spanish is the second one. In "standard" Spanish, we have a splaying out of tongue positions into front, mid, and back, to keep things away from one another. Thus we now have a front apical "theta" sound [T], a mid apical "ese" sound [s], and a back dorsal (or velar) "jota" sound [x], which sometimes becomes not merely a velar but rather an uvular fricative [X]. In any event, they're now very different from one another, so the system is stable again.

    The [s] has a pecular apico-alveolar articulation that sometimes produces the impression of palatality in non-trained listeners, who end up thinking it's really the "sh" as in the English "shirt" (but it's not). In most seseante dialects, which are found in most of Andalucía (with the possible exception of Granada) and consequently in most of the Americas since they were settled by andaluces, the merger of S1 and S2 has a reductive effect on /x/, creating a more forward and relaxed articulation of the velar, producing something more like [h].

    These have serious ramifications on education efforts. First, you end up with homophones where none where supposed to exist. The orthographic system, which was designed for a sz distinction, conserves that, but seseante speakers have a harder time learning. They are unable to distinguish casa from caza or cocer from coser or cerrar from serrar. It's very sad to see spellings like "demaciado in America. In standard speakers, this cannot happen, because there's no theta sound in that word. /demasiado/ and /demaTiado/ are phonemically and thus graphically distinct. (Actually, the /s/ is really [S], a thicker sound than you hear in Mexican or in English.)

    Another hurdle for victims :-) of seseo is verb conjugations. They cannot from their ear hear the difference between something like reconocer and recoser, so the phonologically-derived rule that the first produces an epithetic "z" (to make reconozco) but the second does not, is something which cannot be auditorally inferred.

    One more stumbling block for them is that their weak /x/ ends up confusing some people, who almost sometimes leave it out, producing Meico instead of Méjico.

    Spanish is full of fricatives, far more than in English. It has some English lacks; try to get an English speaker to properly say uva or pago--those intervocalic fricatives there are not in English at all. A voiced stop becomes a fricative intervocalically, and in most other positions, too. Thus the "d" phoneme, which in Spanish is dental and not alveolar as it is in English, manifists as a voiced "th" allophone, such as from the English word, "either". That means that cada is [caDa], casa is [caSa], and caza is [caTa]--all three completely differentiable. Because there's also a subtle voicing effect (which is not phonemic) due to following voiced consonants, words like desde become /desde/, which is actually ['dEZDe], or, if you would "dezhthay". (The two e's are allophonic only; Spanish has only five vocalic phonemes.) And if there were a word preceding desde that didn't end in an "l" or "n", then even the first "d" would become a fricative not a stop. Pues desde luego is going to sound more like [pweS `DEZ De 'lwe Go] to your ear (yes, only five syllables, and it might be [pwEZ] in some speakers depending on speed), which will bother you, as English hasn't got a [G] or a [S] in it at all. :-)

    The familiar phrase Cómo se dice? shows something very different than most Americans expect: ['ko mo Se 'Di Te] (with the "k" from "skate" not from "kate").

    Hey, it could be worse. It could be Portugeuse. :-) There Como é que se diz? seems to come out more as a Slavic-sounding [kmEks 'DiZ] with only two syllables and very few vowels--or in Brazilian, ['kO mu 'E ke si 'dZi zi], with seven syllables instead but some other strange effects.

    Now, even though I've tongue-in-cheekly called the seseo speakers "victims", I'm just kidding. What happened to them in the South is a perfectly natural evolutionary step--that of convergence. It's simply different from what happened in the North, which is divergence. It is not officially "wrong" to sesear. But people who do not do so are not "more educated" than those who do. (They do, however, tend to spell better. :-) A educated speaker from Sevilla is no disparaged just because his casa and his caza sound the same.

    So please knock that chip off your shoulder. They are not doing it to spite you. It's just the way they've talk, and have done so for many centuries. Cope. And while you're at it, you might actually bother to learn some fonética y fonología españolas so you can stop furthering these bigotries and myths.

  • I'm a bilinguist american, rare eh?
    You mean: "I'm a bilingual American; rare, eh?" So, what's your second language? Not English, surely. :-)
    Take the difference between American-English and England-English, somewhat quite similar. I believe that Spanish rooted in Spain sounds much more intelligent, smooth, and educated -
    I note that "sounds" is the operative term here, and that this perception is in the ear of the belistener--as it were. Specifically, this type of observation says far more about the observer than the observed. Although prestige-based accents and the associated cultural bigotries are to be found everywhere, that's no reason to voice them.

    • "Bostonians sound so much more intelligent, smooth, and educated than Alabamans".
    • "Atlantan residents sound so much more intelligent, smooth, and educated than New Jersey people."
    This is so breathtakingly asinine as to beggar the imagination. The only reason I'm answering is the next excerpt.
    Go spend some time in Spain -- while everybody speaks Spanish (excepting Barcelona.. not even getting into that discussion) most speak 2 to 3 languages fluently. I'd say probably 60% of people speak Spanish and French that aren't in retail, 95% of retail people speak spanish and english.
    Congratulations, you've just disqualified yourself from being able to speak authoritatively on Spain, too, not just from speaking about Spanish (as you previously did).

    More than one Spaniard in four speaks something other than castellano as their first language. 17% speak catalá, 7% galego, and 2% euskadi. This doesn't even count the various vestigial langauges like asturianu, leonés, or aragonés--which tend to be second languages now if that, not to mention the controversial situation of the two alde(i)as portuguesas that somehow never made it back over the border in 1640.

    Furthermore, you will find that outside of the major metropolitan and touristic areas, the regular people do not speak non-Iberian languages. Yes, this is starting to change a little bit in the younger generation as time progresses, but it's not true except in affluent young cosmopolitan yuppies. Your numbers are ludicrous. I challenge you to go to a random village in, oh, Castilla la Vieja, and try talking English or French to the shopkeepers of the myriad little 15 square-meter shops nestled away in sleepy, dusty towns. They will speak beautiful Spanish, sin duda, a rare prestige accent with nary a trace of seseo nor sometimes even of yeísmo, but if you think the older people and the common people of the Spanish countryside are polyglottal, you're nuts. For some, you're lucky to get Spanish!

  • Sorry no, you are thinking about http and web browsers here... Before the hordes of infuriated "hackers" start a flame war I just suggest you read on about DARPA, ARPANET, and look for names in the early RFCs. Please slashdoters, don't start a flamefest, we can still diffuse this incident..
  • I'd think it's a problem in every language nowadays.
    We use english technical terms in german, and the german translation sounds a bit stupid sometimes.
    So what ? Science used latin technical terms before...
  • by Bjarke Roune ( 107212 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @03:13AM (#586890) Homepage
    First of all, languages are not static but rather they evolve and change all the time. This does not destroy them, it just makes them different. Just by observing that single fact one can see how rediculus this is.

    However, I woudln't mind if Spanish was removed from the face of the earth. In fact, I woudln't mind of Danish was removed from the earth (my own native tongue). The reason for this is that it's simply stupid and unproductive for everyone not to speak the same langauge. At the time, the only language that seems to have the possibility of becoming a truely universal language is English, so I hope more people will talk English.

    There's nothing special about English, though; I'd much prefer a synthetic language like Esperanto that's actually thougth out and easy to learn, instead of the random suckiness inherent in natural languages. But [i]everyone[/i] learning Esperanto or anything besides English unfortunately seems rather unlikely right now.

    Some would say that this would destroy culture, but if a culture is so weak it cannot survive the "loss" of its language, I'd say that people weren't really serious about it anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 02, 2000 @10:45AM (#586898)
    As the above poster points out, being multilingual is an important skill, although I'm just beginning to learn spanish, in the spirit of multinationalism and world harmony, I'll practice my spanish here in the hopes that 'we can all get along.'

    Creedme, el español es una lengua importante para el norteamericano.

    Hello, let me introduce myself, I import noodles into North America, mostly linguini

    Todos sabemos que la cultura protestante del norteamericano le hace buscar el beneficio económico (la cultura latina es más "católica").

    Although I'm catholic, I like protestant girls just like your next latino guy but they're expensive to date.

    Y el mercado latino será cada vez más importante.

    My large mercury capri has those controllable shock absorbers, bouncing up and down at a stop light is indeed important.

    Los hispanohablantes son cada vez más, al igual que los chinos. En un mercado globalizado como este el que sepa más idiomas tendrá más mercado y ganará más dinero.

    And yes, its an american car, cost me a bundle too

    Esto los europeos lo tienen muy claro por su diversidad lingüistica.

    Linguini is a popular form of european pasta used in many dishes

    Aquí en europa los estudiantes preuniversitarios

    which while primarily a european staple, is quite universal in favor and worth studying the preparation of

    aprenden 2 lenguas además de la materna. Un universitario europeo que se precie (de cualquier ámbito del

    I had to get this job as my protestant girlfriend is pregnant, and dropped out of university

    saber) dominará su lengua materna (por ejemplo el español),

    she is a dominatrix, albeit a pregnant one that speaks spanish

    hablará con suficiente fluidez el inglés,

    She has been 'retaining fluids' as you english say

    y sabrá defenderse en alemán y francés. Si además es de una región con lengua propia

    so I feed her linguini, with french fries prepared properly

    (catalán, vasco, gallego)

    along with some other dishes (I don't know the translations there)

    conocerá esta lengua también. Sin embargo los anglosajones siguen ciegos. Yo puedo entender una

    she is legal aged, I'm not a puedo or anything, i met her in LA.

    conversación en inglés y se de lo que hablais, pero cuidado!, si no quiero que os entereis de lo que digo solo

    she told me in conversation that I'm going to have to 'do it myself' for awhile

    tengo que hablar en español...

    are you understanding my spanish so far?

    italiano...

    something about italian

    Ya sabeis que nosotros inventamos la "guerrilla", mi consejo: aprended español o perdereis. :D

    So I'm being inventive, although its not consensual, my girlfriend does sleep with her mouth open :D

  • To prove your point here in the UK it has been decreed that US English should be taught to our children especially for scientific terms.

    The reasoning being that as the rest of the world now speaks US English, native English is now deemed to be unecessary.

    So in future thou shall not spell analyse with an s its analyze.

    Everything now goes with a Z (No the're not saying thou shall not use VDM to any any maths junkies reading this.)

    From a cultural point of view its bad for us in the UK as its one more Americanisation of our culture...

    BUT rationally it makes sense.
    UK English used to be the universal language now its going to be US English through the influence of American culture more than anything else

    If we think calmly about this, does it really matter if we all speak US English ?
  • I absolutely love the idea of everyone on earth being able to speak a common language. That language would not necessarily be the speaker's first language, but it would be one in which they were fluent. At this point in time English looks like the best bet to fill this role. It is the language of international business first of all. The elites in many countries around the globe send their children to schools where they are taught english. I know, I work in a university where 80% of our student workers come from the elite classes of other countries, they all speak english fluently. Not like what you'll find at McDonalds. Is there some kind of corporate policy there which requires that anyone working the front counter cannot speak english?

    As internet use increases around the globe, a universal language will eventually come into being. I doubt very seriously that it will be pure english, or pure anything. More likely it will be an amalgamation of many languages.

    This is exactly what happens when two or more languages are mixed together due to the geographic merger of speakers of those languages.

    English itself did not always have the form it does today. Take a look at middle english, or old english sometime, they're truly foreign to speakers of modern english. After the norman conquest of england, words from french slowly seeped into the language to the point that today English, while germanic in origin, could almost be considered a romance language.

    So as time goes by the internet itself will foster the creation of a new language, derived from old, that anyone online will be able to use.

    The sooner this happens the better.

    Lee Reynolds
  • by HiyaPower ( 131263 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @03:47AM (#586953)
    By its very nature, Language is the most democratic of all possible institutions. If you decide to call the thingamabob over there a wongle and everone else agrees, it is called a wongle foreverafter until folks decide that it should be called something else. If nobody agrees, then you wander the space asking for a wongle and getting blank stares. Purity of the language agruments are pure rot. The strength of American English (at least) is that it is a total mongrel and thus has hybrid vigor. Given the fact that the rest of the world shipped their treasure to us (black gold from africa, yellow gold from aisia, white gold from europe, red gold from the americas, etc...) we have one of the richest languages in existance. Each of those people had special contributions to make, and these pearls were simply strung on the tread of the old world syntactic construction (sometimes). Thank God that American English did not have any of the "purity" arguments that are being made...
  • This is certainly a major factor of "mondialisation" (don't know the word in English).

    En englais, on dit "globalization". ;)

    --
  • Spanish academics are worried about the influence of English on the CASTILIAN language (Spanish language doesn't exist)... F*** THEM!!! They destroy the catalan language using nazi laws, police and army, against all expression of any culture but castilian. So if they want to preserve their language first thay must respect other languages. Visca Catalunya Lliure i Independent.
  • by K8Fan ( 37875 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @03:48AM (#586960) Journal

    This whole debate ignore the dymanic nature of language. "English" isn't a plot by english speakers to establish global control. People learn english in order to buy into that power. English speakers use so many words from other languages that the language can't be said to have evolved so much as congealed.

    It's virtually impossible to go through a day in the US without using at least a couple of words that have filtered into US english from other languages. And that's the way it should be. Dr. Samuel Johnson, when he published the first english dictionary, dispaired that people would try to use it as an authority; that it would define the language. He understood that no language in static except a dead one.

  • by Tom Christiansen ( 54829 ) <tchrist@perl.com> on Saturday December 02, 2000 @09:24AM (#586961) Homepage
    Although this article does touch on some reasonably interesting and important issues, it is more notable for what it fails to recognize. The first matter is that Spanish (the world's number two primera lengua, and growing fast) is not only perfectly up to the task of generating new words using classical mechanisms, it is in fact doing so, and quite productively. On p 128 of the most excellent The Romance Languages [amazon.com], editors Martin Harris and Nigel Vincent make the following point:
    Although purist hackles have been raised by the recent influx of anglicisms I(as in France, see p. 243), the productive patterns of the language remain resolutely Romance. The best evidence is that new concepts and artifacts which might easily have attracted a foreign label are so often named from indigenous roots, whether by derivation or compounding.
    Urbanización "housing development", currently to be seen on builders' placards all over Spain, is made up of impeccably classical roots. Calientaplatos "plate-warmer", lavaplatos "dishwasher", limpiaparabrisas "windscreen-wiper", and even, alas, cartabomba "letter-bomb", use only indigenous material. Through development of this kind, Spanish is becoming more, not less, Romance in its structure.
    Although Spanish does regularly incorporate terms from English (the world's number one second language, and this also growing fast), it does not in my experience do so with the regularity that French does, nor even German. There it's "cool" to use English terms, especially in marketing. While this is true throughout Europe, this is hardly a new phenomenon, nor is it necessarily indicative of lasting fingerprints on the language. Lexical borrowing have occurred throughout history. You do not see the article disparaging the various and many words that were long ago borrowed from the Germanic invaders of the Iberian Penisula, like blanco "white", guardar "to guard, to keep", guerra "war", yelmo "helmet", robar "to steal", ropa "clothing", and ganso "goose". And this is nothing compared with the nearly four thousand words in Spanish that can be traced to Arabic, such as aceite "olive oil", aduana "customs", ajedrez "chess", alcachofa "artichoke", alcalde "mayor", alcohol, algebra, algodón "cotton", algoritmo "algorithm", arroz "rice", azahar "orange blossom", azúcar "sugar", azul "blue", azulejo "ceramic tile", barrio "quarter, neighborhood", berenjena "eggplant", cenit "zenith", cifra "figure, cipher", halagar "to flatter", hasta "until", jaca "pony", jarra "jar, pitcher", mezquino "mean", nadir, naranja "orange", ojalá "if only (literally, may Allah grant)", zanahoria "carrot", and zoco "open-air market"--just to name a few. And then of course we have the Amerindian languages' rich contributions of words such as alpaca, cacoa , chicle, chocolate, cóndor, coyote, llama, maíz, patata, petunia, tapioca, tobaco, and tomate --which you will probably all recognize without translation. :-)

    Not only would Spanish (and in many cases above, also Portuguese) be severely impoverished without these words, so too in many cases would most other European languages. One can hardly begrudge them these.

    What the author of this article is actually complaining about may in fact be the fact that nominally bilingual people in the United States often, in fact, no neither language particularly well. Later on in the same page as I cited earlier, one also reads the following:

    If membership of
    hispanidad is determined by mutual intelligibility, we are obliged to exclude the creoles of Colombia and the Far East which, though often loosely described as "Spanish creoles", appear on closer scrutiny to have autonomous grammatical systems (for further discussion, see Chapters 1 and 12). More problematic are the "Hispanic" varieties of the United States which range on a continuum between lightly dialectal puertorriqueño and the basilectal form of chicano, which has undergone some of the morphological modification usually associated with creolisation and has assimliated numerous calques of American English lexical and idiomatic structures. These internal chararistics, together with the frequent code-switching between Spanish and English common to all Hispanic variants in the USA, can render chicano totally impenetrable to monolingual Spanish speakers.
    That's certainly true in the Southwest, where you routinely hear this "code-switching" en las calles and with the ubquitous cucina-help chavalines washing sus dishes sucios, if tu takes my meaning aquí. :-) There is a fascinating beauty that comes from being able to freely intermix two languages in one conversation and even in one sentence, where words and syntax skip back and forth.

    One thing that's seldom mentioned, which is going here, is that Spanish is not in the United States considered a prestige language. It is widely disparaged, relegated to the working class, or even the nominal underclass. This is completely different from what happens in, say, Canada, where the French language heritage is elevated and venerated--and vehemently and vociferously so, too, for where else but Québec can you find supercilious arrête signs where in even Paris and Madrid and Bonn and Tokyo you see normal stop signs? Sigh.

    It is very sad but true that Spanish speakers in America are not taught their rich heritage. They do not know their writers of antiquity, like Cervantes, Unamuno, Lope de Vega, Galdós, Fray Luis de León, Santa Teresa, Quevedo, or San Juan de la Cruz. They do not know their writers of this century, like Federico García Lorca, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel García Márquez, Manuel Puig, Jorge Luis Borges, and Rudolfo Anaya (to spread around the honors geographically). As I've heard say in New Mexico (the only State which is legally bilingual), "It is even easier to be illiterate in two languages than in one." :-( Then again, how many English speakers know their own literature? Few, I suspect.

    You can hardly fault tejanos for their curious code-switching or their rampant Spanglishization. You may flinch at hearing how in Texas then rentan something instead of alquilándolo, or talk about driving their troques instead of their camiones. (The former is especially annoying, because la renta is one of those faux amis that already has a meaning quite different in Spanish than the English cognate would suggest!) Then again, when you listen to Texans speak English, you might be a bit unnerved there, too. :-)

    In technical jargon, Spanish certainly has much of its own terminology, as this article on El sistema de ficheros virtual de Linux [hispalinux.es] will show you. Sure, you see a few foreign terms there, like driver and off-line, but by and large, they are perfectly native terms, such as an enlace simbólico. Somtimes there are transliterations, like superbloques and inodos (eg " El NFS guarda una tabla de inodos virtuales y su correspondencia"). But Spanish has plenty of its own words for things, like teclado "keyboard" and pantalla "screen".

    (In Portuguese, interestingly enough, although teclado is keyboard, you have ecran to be screen, a French borrowing (the French word is actually éran), not an English one. I don't hear anyone in Portgual complaining about borrowing the French word, although I wouldn't completely blame them if they were to spell it eicrã to better match the pronunciation.)

    Better that the hispanohablantes (hispanophones?) should use driver or superbloque though, which are obvious in derivation, than that they should use such deceptive monstrosities as the recently legally approved term in French, cédéron, meaning, of course, "CD-ROM". This is evil because it is not traceable back to Romance roots, and requires several linguistic jumps to decode. You must first say it out loud, transliterate back to English, then lookup an acronym in English (misspelled, too--see the "n"?) before you have a chance of knowing what it means. This is wicked.

    Now, you'll always have people arguing about ficheros versus archivos in Spain and Mexico respectively, or ficheiros versus arquivos in Portugal and Brazil respectively. But these are no different than arguing about trucks and lorries between the US and UK, or heros versus hoagies versus grinders versus sub(marine sandwiche)s here in the States. These are really immaterial. The transliterations are a bit more jolting, such as people using salvar espacio to save space rather than ahorrar espacio, or salvar un fichero to save a file rather than guardar un fichero. It annoys because salvar is--well, originally--one of those religious things having to do with salvation. Agonizing purists tell you that you simply cannot salvar dinero--that you can only ahorrarlo, of course, and that buffers must be guardados, as their souls are not in peril. :-)

    But probably, this is no greater a shift than the mutilations we see daily in English, like "unique" weakened to mean merely "unusual", "ubiquitous" weakened to mean merely "commonplace". In the technical arena, we see it when people use "hacker" to mean "cracker" and "memory" to mean "disk space"--and, I suppose, "software" to mean by default source-less for-pay "fleeceware", although I nominate "Billware" for that. :-) It's happened before (consider "awful" last century), and there's just no stopping it.

    Let me finish this up with a note of encouragement, taken from the concluding page of the chapter in the reference book I've already quoted from:

    [Spanish] is also, with Portuguese, one of only two Romance languages to be increasingly rapidly its numbers of speakers; on those grounds alone its future seems assured. But in the process of expansion from minor dialect to major world language, Spanish has become a little more like some of the varieties it once rivalled.
    These languages are growing, not always as one wants them to, but really no differently than they've always grown, and not as nastily as the article would have us all believe. If you want people to know a language, a literature, a history, and a culture, then you have to teach that to them!

    I now return you to your previously scheduled mano-a-mano diatribes; me, I've got a burrito nuking. :-)

    Decía Carlos V, el Emperador, que el inglés era lengua para hablar con los pájaros; el alemán con los caballos; el francés con los hombres; el italiano con las damas, y el español para hablar con Dios.
  • Also try:

    http://translator.go.com/cb/trans_entry?input_ty pe =url&url=http%3A%2F%2Fslashdot.org&lp=en_sp&lo=en& t=jj9_xxx_trans

  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...are similarly outraged that so many cooking terms are in French?

    This is not an English language issue. This is an issue of words specific to a trade being in the language of the country where the trade originated or is most prolific. It occurs in many, many fields.

  • "British lady"? "Traditional"? "Twang"? "Southern"? So, if your madame mutters a four-letter word, she suddenly becomes "less intelligent", does she? What is the nature of intelligence?

    This is the point you are failing to grasp, both in my original post and in my previous. I will make it very simple for you:
    I shall walk to the corner market to purchase some eggs
    As opposed to:
    Imma be walkin to the store down the fuckin street to buy some shit
    Now, which one sounds more soothing, and intelligent? Look, from our conversation and my lack to speak any language with any degree of success.. hell I got a C in college english because I dont care enough about it one could assume that I'm not very intelligent. I'll give you a hint though, my IQ is near what you would see in say, Sharon Stone [same testing sequence].
    So, that aside, I'm not saying anything about bigotry -- I have no idea where you got that from? For someone who is associated with Perl and seems well educated, damn you are lacking intelligence in quite a few areas. I say this due to one major reason:
    You charge forth with an objection without even understanding what you are objecting too.
    You spewed a bunch of numbers and expect authority over a subject.

    But since you've impugned my credentials, which appear to be of some import to you, permit me to display them for you.
    Well then, you sure showed me didn't you? Damn man, you have obviously been beaten as a child for not standing up for things because you are so far out of whack of what I am saying then I think I have ever encountered.

    Point #1 I did not attack your credentials, lets go back to the original statement that I wrote:
    If all you can pull is statistics instead of life experience then that's bullshit.
    Did you or did you not spew a bunch of statistics (that was actually in favor of my original post, talking about the linguistic diversity of Spanish folks - thanks for that point, appreciate it), yes.. yes you did. So.. if that is all you can do, then you are full of bullshit. These two points are very factual
    Another point, I dont even really care about your credentials, a simple "Yeah, I've been through spain and speak a bit of spanish" would have sufficed, thanks for your life story though. You have completely and totally misread what I was saying, maybe it is due to my lack of writing skills which I acknowledge (I dont care to write better, it is sufficient) but then I look back.. Ah yes, my example of the British lady who sounds (being the operative term, as you put it previously) more intelligent. .. yep, there we go that sums it up right there, ask anyone you know what sounds more intelligent (not the speaker, just the sentence) and my guess is most of them would say sentence #1. So my point is this: You have no idea what the hell I am talking about. Hell, I dont even know if you know what you are talking about really. Reviewing things, just to make sure I am not off base, reveals that you have a stick shoved up your ass about something and you think that entitles you to accuse me of being wrong when you dont even understand what I am talking about.
    You sir, are in the wrong. However I'm expecting yet another response illustrating how it is wrong to make judgements about a person based off of their dialect. I'll save you the trouble: No shit, that is what I am saying. I'm talking about the sentences, the language, the words and phrases and how those sound. Spare me another long lecture about my bigotry, because you are the one who needs to relax.
    But thanks, you are at least intelligent to discuss things with even though you aren't understanding my point.

  • Now look at English. As more and more people speak it, they brutualize Standard English. The English spoken in Malaysia is nothing like the English spoken in Vermont. It's not english, it's malaysianglish.

    People argue "Oh, but they just have bad accents." WRONG. RIGHT. They have an accent that people not from that area are unaccostomed to and do not understand. Even your next sentence admits as much:

    They are speaking English using the pronunciation rules of Javanese (langauge of Malaysia). Further, words and phrases completely unknown in English are used.

    Look no further than the US. Take that South Dakotan and place him in the South Side of Chichago. Take a Nu Yawkah, put in someone from Lang EyeLand, get a Chowdahhead from Bahstan, get a Texan, a Canadian, an Australian, a Brit and someone from Nowrth Carolahnah all together in a room, and while there will be a bunch of "huh"'s here and there, they'd all be able to understand much of what's being said. And CERTAINLY they would understand what was WRITTEN in english.

  • I think English has much better chances than Latin to become the universal language. Perhaps not the English that we know today, but some sort of hybrid based on English.

    And I'm ok with that, even though my primary language is Spanish, and I like it much more than English. Perhaps we won't live to see it, but I'm pretty sure that we'll end up with one universal language. As people all around the world get more and more connected (yes, through the Internet, that will eventually take over TV and telephone as the primary means for electronic communication), a single unified language will very probably appear, if only for practical reasons.

    The only feature of Spanish that I'd really, really hope will catch up is the clean spoken-to-written, and back to spoken, transformation rules. I mean, what's the matter with you English-speaking people? Why is that you can't write your words as they sound? Your language makes it so damn hard to code speech synthesis and recognition... :-P

  • by Detritus ( 11846 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @11:17AM (#586976) Homepage
    ...it helps us Chicanos cope with the fact that our land was stolen from us...

    Oooh, look at the violence inherent in the system.

    The Americans stole the land from the Spanish, who stole it from various Native Americans, who stole it from other Native Americans, and on and on it goes. You are going to have a hard time finding a decent piece of land on this planet that hasn't been "stolen" several times.

  • But this is a case where Godwin's law applies. Look at the statement:

    The Nazi's wanted to keep the Arian race pure (Godwin's law, yeah, yeah) and we all know how bad an idea that was.

    This in no way proves that racial purification is a bad idea. It only shows that the way the Nazis went about racial purification is bad. Godwin's law is to prevent statements like this, because anyone who continues the opposite view sounds like they are defending Nazi statements.

    In this case it is particularily heighted as the arguement is meant to support the statement:

    I would also like to note that cultural purity arguments of any type are closed-minded and restrict us from enjoying the benefits of each others' cultures.

    which is about cultural purity, not racial purity. So essentially, the arguement is that since the Nazis were for some form of purity, then all forms of purification are bad.

    Using Nazi history to prove that an ideology is wrong is flawed from the beginning. The Nazis were an implementation of many ideologies. To use them as "proof" is using a heuristic method. And to take any of the ideologies (like racial purification) out of the context of all the other ideologies, plus the implementation, you lose any point you could have made. Saying racial purification is bad because of how the Nazis did it, is like saying multiple inheritance is bad because of how C++ did it.

    I agree that there is a tremendous amount of educational value to the study of Nazi Germany. There was a large section of it covered in my psych 232J course (The Psychology of Evil). But using Nazis as an example in an argument like this is a prime example of why Godwin's law is a good idea. It's not that Godwin supporters can't defend themselves against a "powerful arguement," but that they can't realistically defend themselves against the implications that they are Nazi suporters even in cases like this where the arguement is clearly separated from the Nazis.

    Finally, I think that racial prurfication is bad, because I believe that a person should not be excluded because of something that they cannot inherently change about themselves. I, however, believe that cultural purification is fine because a culture is not inherent to a person, although a person can prefer a culture over another. I feel that is a person wants to live in North America does not accept the cultural idea of ownership of physical property, then they should go to jail when they take something. I also feel that implementing cultural purification on a large scale i nearly impossible.

  • >Cultural identity, of which language is an important part, may not be a big deal to you or to me ? but, for most people, it is a big deal.

    If this was in fact the case the people would not use the words in the first place. No one is being forced spanish speaking people are CHOOSING to use englishized words. As they can stop doing this at any time this suggests to me it is only a couple of firebrand academics who want to get a name for themselves who are causing the trouble
  • i don't think english will lose its dominance any time soon, really. what's happening with english's widespread use is that american culture is both being pushed on foreigners, and indeed foreigners are also pulling on american culture - we want to sell it to them and they want to buy it. the language comes part and parcel with this.

    when the roman empire was growing, there was a definite push from rome to spread the use of latin (and speed the adoption of roman ways into local culture), but as it grew in power and as people began to realize that their towns would be better off joining with the romans (say, for protection against the neighbors they'd been squabbling with for decades), they would stand to gain more from joining up with the romans and learning a bit of latin.

    i think english is here to stay for a while...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    En passant, I just submitted my résumé after a rendez-vous in a café. Fortunately English is safe.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I don't care how unproductive it is I can say things in Spanish that I could never say in English -- sure you could translate it but a lot of the sudelty would be gone. Surely as a person that speaks more than one language you can apreciate this. But if you can't I suggest you take one of my favorite novels: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and translate it to "proper" English and read it again. My guess is that you'll notice something vital to the story is missing, something you can't get back unless you read it in its origional form. An important and beautiful thing would be lost just by getting rid of a couple of dialects of English -- can you imagen the damage that destroying a language, any language would do?
  • Just to clarify:

    DISC means the medium involves optics or lasers in some way, such as "optical disc", "Compact Disc" etc...
    DISK means the medium is magnetic based, so you have "Hard Disk", "Floppy Disk" etc....

    Technically speaking, you shouldn't interchange the spelling - in reality, non-techies and the vast majority of people do, so geeks tend to as well.

    By-the-by, I'll never forgive the fact the world has to spell 'Sulphur' 'Sulfur' due to US English...but that's just me.

    8)
  • by StandardDeviant ( 122674 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:07AM (#586993) Homepage Journal

    I live in texas, and I know a lot of spanish speakers (I speak a very tiny amount myself). Spanish is a myth, there is no "Spanish" language anymore.

    The "problem', if you wish to define it as such, is that it has mutated heavily in the Americas away from "Castilian" (ie. european or "high" spanish), and within the Americas the differences between, say, the hispanoamerican speech in Guanajuanto (sp? northern mexico university town) and in Rio are larger than you would expect (I seem to recall that "sanitares" (sp?) was fruit in Guatemala and bathroom in Mexico, or some such, as an example). This has been occuring long before tech jargon. The differences have grown to the point that the european and american versions of the tongue are almost mutually unitelligible (according to my sources anyway).

    It must be emphasized that this "blurring" was I think due more to migration than contact with other languages. (Not to say that that didn't play an important role as well, within 100 miles in either direction of the texas-spanish border, pretty much everyone is in linguistic euilibrium between the two tongues, "spanglish" as it's referred to.

    So to sum up, this guy is just a hyper-purist, much like hyper-purists in pretty much every culture. As is typical of most purity fanatics, he's focused on one thing as the root cause of all the changes he doesn't like (like a Southern Baptist focusing on Disney as the corruptor of Family Values).


    --

  • You mean: "I'm a bilingual American; rare, eh?" So, what's your second language? Not English, surely. :-)

    C++ :)

    More than one Spaniard in four speaks something other than castellano as their first language. 17% speak catalá, 7% galego, and 2% euskadi. This doesn't even count the various vestigial langauges like asturianu, leonés, or aragonés--which tend to be second languages now if that, not to mention the controversial situation of the two alde(i)as portuguesas that somehow never made it back over the border in 1640.
    I'm not sure how that disqualifies me at all. I said that most spaniards speak multiple languages and this is statistically proving it. I did not ever say that they spoke Spanish as their native tongue. I really should have clarified my statement about 60% speak spanish and french. I intended metropolitan areas but left that out *doh*.

    Now, to go to the cream of the comment - you say that it's stupid to associate a language with having a more smooth, intelligent sound. Why? I dont think that anybody would ever argue that a nice traditional British lady sounds very much more intelligent then say, a lad in the ghetto that uses mother-fucker to describe quantum physics. It sounds different, that's the bottom line. I made no reference to the actual individual being of a better mindset than any other either - I'm not sure why you made that assumption. Go listen to a Jeff Foxworthy tape and tell me if it's soothing to ones ear. The twang of a southern drawl is not something one associates with a well-defined education?
    Why not? Well, they can't pronounce aluminium for starters - another reason is they can't pronounce most other words correctly. When a language is spoken where they do not pronounce the words correctly, it does not sound very pleasing unless you are from that region and then it sounds normal I suppose.

    Either way, you really seem no more qualified to speak about Spain or the Spanish language than myself. If all you can pull is statistics instead of life experience then that's bullshit. 99% of statistics can be changed to meet the persons usage. (And yes, that is a joke).

  • Absolutely, however I do think (and most people who speak mexican agree) that Spanish from Spain sounds more proper and (well anal, too.. another matter) slightly more intelligent. Keep in mind (as to my previous response) that I am in no way saying a Spaniard is smarter than anyone else.

    I do find it funny when speaking spanish around here (California), I usually have to repeat myself (if they aren't from Spain). The whole point of me learning Spanish over other languages is Spanish was more useful. Ironic..

  • Give us some fucking credit here, for Christ's sake. No American believes Al Gore "invented the internet". Just because you hear it on TV in your country doesn't make it true.

    - A.P.

    --
    * CmdrTaco is an idiot.

  • Darwin came to mind when you said this: "Some would say that this would destroy culture, but if a culture is so weak it cannot survive the "loss" of its language, I'd say that people weren't really serious about it anyway". So I suppose people colonized all over America weren't really being "serious" about their own cultures since they let their native languages disappear and be substituted by english, spanish or portuguese. The loss of those languages and their corresponding cultures was a very painful process fo those people, it's not something we can talk about in terms of one language being weaker than the other, you just can't say "well they weren't being serious about it, too bad".

    Indeed, stuff in general (ideas, jokes, etc.) doesn't get better just because it's mine. A fact too many people ignore.
    I would never say better but I would certainly would say very valuable because of its uniqueness

    Wouldn't it be so much nicer if everyone had spoken the same language back then? then you, too, could read these authors in their native language!
    Yes it would but let's be realistic. The fact is that there is a very strong interdependence between language and culture. An universal language would need an universal culture, that's impossible. We would have to live in the same latitude, grow up eating the same things, watching the same landscapes, thinking, discussing, joking in the same fashion, everything, everywhere would be homogeneous. Is that your notion of an ideal world?

    And talking pragmatically, about the fact that most of the available literature worldwide is inaccessible to me, well, it's inaccesible to me anyway because I have a finite amount of time to spend reading it.

    Let's forget the example of computer languages; it wasn't obviously the perfect analogy, what I was trying to do is to convey a sense of loss of diversity. But when you say: "most any language is completely sufficient to say anything you want provided you speak that language well enough.", I have to disagree, and I would have thought it would be obvious why. If what you say were true, perfect translations would exist, they don't.

    Don't you see that your are making my case for me? If everyone spoke the same language, those friends of yours wouldn't have had to "go to greath lengths" to learn a new language.
    But don't you see, they WANTED to, they didn't HAVE to, no one forced them to. And the interesting and extremely valuable part is not the outcome (fluently knowing a new language) but the learning process.I've learn a great deal about my own native language (Spanish) by learning other similar languages such as French and Italian and some not so similar as English

    Finally, I think we're diverting from the one point where I believe we agree, as expressed in my earlier post, it would be VERY convenient if people knew one same language to communicate on a global basis but I see many disadvantages extrapolating that to every daily activity that happens anywhere worldwide.

  • by Thomas Miconi ( 85282 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:16AM (#587009)
    This backlash against the English language [? [everything2.com]] must be taken in a wider context. English is silently creeping its way to Absolute World Domination, IT being only its last (and most powerful) Trojan horse.

    20 years ago, when the first IT wave hit our side of the Ocean, the French tried (and managed) to prevent the linguistic tsunami by creating new words (or reusing old ones) for IT-related stuff, and these words were indeed quite good ("ordinateur" and "logiciel" sound nicer to our ears than "computer" and "software") and were quickly adopted. But at some point you have to face the obvious : The Internet is 90% English-speaking. Whatever the subject, documentation written in English may be ten times as abundant as in any other language. What can you do against that ?

    This is especially frightening for us in a EU context : how long will we be able to carry on with the current policy, that is,translating any document in the 3 major languages (German, French and English) and as many documents as possible in the 11 (as of now) languages of the EU ? It's already cumbersome enough today - so what will it be like in a 30-members EU ? We feel that at some point the case for "English Everywhere" will become extremely strong, and to be honest we find it not only unfair (Britons would get a huge comparative advantage) but downright terrifying.

    "One world, one economy, one language" (I wonder what it sounds like in German ?). Welcome to a Brave New World of civilization and progress, where the global elite will use its own language (American English), turning every other language into minor dialects used only by poorly educated locals.

    Now this may sound like plain paranoia (and it is, to some point). But History shows that whenever local tongues are confronted with a mainstream language used by the cultural/technical/administrative elite, the latter wins. Think of Russia in the 17th-18th century (or even better, read "War and Peace" to see how close Russia came to becoming a French-speaking country, and why it didn't). The only major exception I can think of is Quebec - which survived as a cultural entity thanks to the federal nature of Canada.

    There's a real fear here, and although I understand that it may look somewhat ridiculous when looked at from the good side of the Babel Fish, you should realize that it is nothing like nationalistic ranting. If we were machines, driven by purely rational goals such as productivity, efficiency, etc., we would all agree to speak the same language - be it English, Latin, SmallTalk, whatever.

    We're not machines. We have a thing which we call culture, and that culture is the very definition of our identity (this is especially true for old European countries). The current "Anglicization" of the world is seen by some as a menace to our national identities, virtually undistinguishable from a military one. The Quebec example, which is now seen as an exception, might soon become the general standard.

    After European peasants destroying McDonald's diners, who knows the next step of the transatlantic cold war won't be angry academics sacking cybercafés ?
  • I got this porno film were this chick is gettin off, and she speaks french and it really turns me on, dude I dont want french to go away then there would be no french porno chicks and that wouldnt be that cool
  • H3y dewd,

    Kewl, but it aint just spanish. What abt 3nglish?

    JK
  • The differences have grown to the point that the european and american versions of the tongue are almost mutually unitelligible (according to my sources anyway).

    I think your sources may be exaggerating it somewhat. I know many mexicans who have no problems understanding spaniards, and vice-versa. Actually, even the difference between Castillian and Catalan is not that large - Spanish speakers who move to Catalan speaking areas can just "pick it up" without lessons.


    There's a bigger difference between Brazilian Portugese and Portugese Portugese, but even there speakers can make themselves understood.

  • Exactly.

    Just as TCP/IP has become the "language" computers speak to communicate worldwide on the internet, those peripheral components that sit in front of the monitor (ie. YOU), will learn to communicate in a common language as well. Colloquialisms, as memes, will spread and homogenize. Ever visit Atlanta, Georgia? Orlando, Florida? Orlando has a LOT of former Northerners. To hear people talk, you'd think you were in Ohio. Of course, in Atlanta, it's a bit different.

    What we're talking about is a STANDARD here, like TCP/IP. Let's all give thanks to whomever we give thanks to, that a corporation doesn't control it (like Java or MSHTML), otherwise, every sentance every person speaks would have to end with (TM). Wouldn't that suck?
  • Not true!

    Well, in the sense that "Democracy" is a word that has a meaning that is different than most people believe: "Democracy" means, those with the most money decide what a thing is called.

    For instance, the current Tax Code in the US, there is a thing, which states that when a person inherits money, if it's over a certain amount, they must pay taxes on it. Now, I'm not here to argue on whether it's a good thing or not, or whether the amounts and thresholds are right or wrong, but most sane, rational people would call this an "inheritance tax" - but opponents of this tax, the US Republicans, are people with deep pockets, making large campaign contributions, and expensive ads targeting broad population segments. These ads label this "thing" as a "Death Tax". That carries a lot of negative baggage. Who decided what to call this "thing"? The people? What a joke. That's just an example, maybe not even a good one,
    How about the term "Liberal"? In US English, it means roughly, a person whose political beliefs are in favor of government oversight, intervention, and control, but in Europe, a "Liberal" -(now often referred to as Neoliberal) is a person who is in favor of Liberalization of laws constraining business - or basically, the opposite of what it means in America. I'm not sure how that arose, but the Republicans have successfully made "Liberal" a dirty word. How about Computer standards? Who decided what "DNS" stands for?
    (Domain Name Services - or Digital Nervous System?)
    or "SMS"
    (Storage Management Services - or System Management Services)-
    Maybe there are more examples?

    Yes, English language is probably one of the most rich and diverse (considering the elements of Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, it contains) in existence, and these elements from other languages have served mostly to enrich it further, in a Borg-like way, but without "purity" guidance, there is a great deal of potential for perversion.
  • Your example of why cultural purity is a good thing is pretty irrefutable, but also, very limited.

    Yes, if someone from another culture who has no concept of personal property comes to America and steals, then they need to be spanked or set straight or jailed or something. "Society must be protected" (-Dr. Scott), but there are issues with cultural purification which are pretty bogus, just listen to Pat Buchanan rant for a while (or George W Bush - "all religions are okay, (as long as they fit my definition of "religion)"). Religion is largely a cultural phenomenon, and there are some fairly deep differences there, with not insignificant ramifications (for instance, Moslem fundamentalists codes about women's rights, etc.) To a certain extent, those aliens with cultural values that don't fit within the "norm" of the new culture, need to be, well, made secondary, where there's friction. But to mean that because fundamentalist Moslem men believe that women must not wear makeup or leave the house unescorted - violates the general population's women's rights, does NOT mean that all Moslem worship and trappings and culture should be eradicated. That's just not justified. And it sets a very dangerous precedent. Yes, fundamentalist Moslem men are prohibited from discriminating against women in American society at large, just as the rest of us are. Fine and dandy. Until the majority of Americans are fundamentalist Moslems (or fundamentalist Southern Baptists), women will have equal rights in America - by law, *not* by culture. That doesn't say that these guys can't hate the law, or worship in a Mosque, or read the Koran, or pray facing Mecca five times a day. This culture, and every culture, has very crucial and necessary value to being a part of American culture, without it, American culture would be that much more bland and homogenized. When was the last time you heard a non-Jew call someone a putz? When was the last time you got an email from someone who wasn't a limey, and they closed it with "Cheers"? When was the last time you ate French Toast? Okay, Filet Mignon?

    Cultural purification is not fine. Cultural normativation (establishing a baseline set of rules we all abide by - regardless of individual values) is the basis of civilization, and cultural diversification has thrived in spite of it since the beginning.
  • by WNight ( 23683 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:38PM (#587032) Homepage
    Yes it would but let's be realistic. The fact is that there is a very strong interdependence between language and culture. An universal language would need an universal culture, that's impossible. We would have to live in the same latitude, grow up eating the same things, watching the same landscapes, thinking, discussing, joking in the same fashion, everything, everywhere would be homogeneous. Is that your notion of an ideal world?

    I disagree with the idea that a culture and a language must be connected. I work with a guy who barely speaks English, yet he completely embraces local culture to the exclusion of his ancestral culture. And I know people who speak English on opposite sides of the Earth who are from completely different cultures.

    I know a Canadian trapper who only rarely comes close enough to town to see other people, a few high-class socialites, a Malaysian girl, an Austrian family, a Tanzanian couple, and many others in my home town (Vancouver BC) who are so different as to be part of a completely different culture.

    There's much more of a language barrier between me and a Scottish friend of mine who grew up in many ways similar to me and has an identical culture, than between me and most of the others, despite the fact that their lives are vastly different than mine.

    I think it would be a good idea if everyone spoke the same language, and I think that technology makes that inevitable. Many parents I know don't bother teaching their children their ancestral language because they can get by just as well without it. Think what it'll be like in the future where everywhere is wired, but to access the majority of the services you'll have to speak/read English... (Not that you said anything about probability, just desirability.)

    On the 'darwinian' angle, many cultural traits are useless. I don't care if my ancestors (a hard group to nail down, I'm a mix of six 'races' in the last two generation.) did some silly thing. It may be neat from a historical lesson to learn the reasons behind eating turkey for Thanksgiving, but I'd prefer to have a ham. And I feel similarly about more 'important' things too, if they're relevant to me now, they will be part of my culture. If they aren't, I don't really care.
  • English is a cultural meme, language is a virus from outer space, so it is perfectly legitimate to refer to it as "creeping" or "spreading" or "seeking world domination".

    Whether or not you believe in memetics the bare basics of that science do apply.

    And I'm not going to agree that English is dominating the world because English is what people want to speak. People want to speak their mother tongues. Period. US Content providers want to provide a product to the biggest market. Does biggest=most people? No. biggest=most money. As America is the richest country in the world, it's THE #1 target market for content providers. Because English-language products are the most lucrative. As a side benefit, you can also hit all the European bilinguals. Biggest bang for the buck.

    The way my company decides which languages to release a product in, is they have a chart which tells them how much it will cost to translate a given product (manuals, dialogs, etc.) to a given language. Then the marketing guys come in with sales-estimates in these languages. Not how many French Speaking customers there are, but how many Non-English Speaking French Speaking customers there are - and cost-benefit compare the two figures. So as you can imagine, there are a lot of French who also speak English. For a critical killer-app, a French customer might even hire an English speaking admin just to work that product. So why should we bother to translate that? For a product whose sales threshold is below a certain point, it will cost more to translate it to that language then they'll make selling to that market. So it doesn't get done. So it's not because the French are clamoring for products (content, software, whatever) that are exclusively English. It's that this environment does not favor the translation of products to French. (or whatever other language).

  • It survives today, in several different modified versions: Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, etc. The merging of Latin with Anglo-Saxon is now called "English".

    Spanish is going through the same fragmentation process that happened to Latin, even without the intervention of English words. Ask an Argentinian the Spanish word for "car": the answer will be "carro". A Spaniard would answer "coche".

  • I used to think the French were the only ones who wanted to keep their language from being bastardized by tech terms. Now it seems like a few spanish people want to join in the fray? Did you know that France actually has a government beauru to fight the cultural and linguistic invasions of other nations? My point is, languages evolving and taking words from other lanquages is nothing new. When France had control of great britain a few years back, plenty of their words leaked into our lexicon, and now they don't think it flows both ways? There's an entire group of words that mean the same thing in English as French -I forget the term for them- but they all have a common ending -ion or something like that.

    Being a rather fluid thing, languages are constantly evolving at the will of the people, not a government office. The French have been trying for years, for example, to get people over their to use some phrase like "sac explosif que cela se protège" instead of air bag . It isn't working. People say it air bag because it's shorter, and advertisers use it becuase it takes up less space on the page. I don't think it'll work for the spanish, either. Other countries always bitch about The United State's cultural and economic hegemony over much of the world. As most of such countries are far older than ours, they seem to have a short memory, forgetting that they already had their shot at world dominance and spreading their ways. England, Spain, Greece, Persia, Rome, and many others had their empires. Now it's our turn, and we don't have to blow anyone up to get our way.

    We just spread our Generican Culture.

  • It's not only Spanish which is being "destroyed" by having to integrate English words of "jargon" for technology

    Actually, there's a lot more to a language than just the vocab: grammar is at least as important. For example, in Welsh the word for post (mail to Americans) is "post". But "email me" translates as "e-bostiwch mi", which a non-Welsh speaker would probably not recognise. Even if all the words are the same, the sentences are usually radically different.

    But in any case there's only so much jargon which gets absorbed into a language. For example, lawyers always use Latin jargon, but if you listen to lawyers speak it's obviously English and not Latin.

  • I dont think that anybody would ever argue that a nice traditional British lady sounds very much more intelligent then say, a lad in the ghetto that uses mother-fucker to describe quantum physics.

    ...

    The twang of a southern drawl is not something one associates with a well-defined education?

    ...

    Well, they can't pronounce aluminium for starters - another reason is they can't pronounce most other words correctly.

    Er, hello? Are you completely insane? This is the most obnoxious and outrageous of trolls!

    "British lady"? "Traditional"? "Twang"? "Southern"? So, if your madame mutters a four-letter word, she suddenly becomes "less intelligent", does she? What is the nature of intelligence? Do you understand the concept of variant registers? What about prestige accents? What about accents at all? What happens when Group A's notion of a prestige accent is the same one that Group B for cultural reasons places at the other end of the spectrum altogether? What about the application of simple logic and reason with respect to intelligence?

    It's clear that you understand language-related prejudice and bigotry: you are a poster child for the same. It's this kind of thing that promotes conflict and worse. Someone who doesn't speak the way you do is NOT less intelligent that you are! This is the oldest lie on earth, and you should be ashamed of promulgating this incredible bigotry.

    Either way, you really seem no more qualified to speak about Spain or the Spanish language than myself. If all you can pull is statistics instead of life experience then that's bullshit.
    I do not believe in the notion of "argument from a position of authority". One should be able to carry an argument on its own merit. You aren't going to believe someone who tells you that 2+2=5 just because they've a degree in Math.

    But since you've impugned my credentials, which appear to be of some import to you, permit me to display them for you.

    Let's see. To start start, I happen to be licenciado en castellano. I attended the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras at the Complutense University in Madrid where I lived, during which time I studied filología española. I've also lived in the UK, have visited most of the countries of Europe, and have spent serious time on five continents. I have had Iberian roommates and SOs, some of whom spoke nothing whatsoever of English, and have gone weeks on end neither hearing nor speaking English. I have formally studied not merely English and Spanish, but also Latin, French, Italian, Portuguese, and German. I have done general studies in Romance Philology and graduate work in linguistics, specifically in natural language processing. I have studied Spanish history, art, poetry, music, and literature. I have taught classes in Spanish. I have passed quasi-delerious through the mystical madrugá of Semana Santa in Sevilla--and not as a tourist, either. I have travelled the length and breadth of the Iberian Peninsula, conversing with farmers in Gijón in their strange asturianu, with gypsies in Andalucía, with scholars in Salamanca, with Catalan-speaking school children in Andorra, and been out all night countless times losing myself in the bacchanalian festivities of the young and the restless in Madrid and Lisbon until I could no longer remember what language I was even speaking, or being spoken to in. I have read Bernal Diaz del Castillo and the Quixote in their original versions, not to mention the Lazarillo de Tormes and el Cantar de Mio Cid in the Per Abbat manuscript. I have stood upon before the foundations Seneca's home, climbed the Giralda, wandered aimlessly about the Museo del Prado for days unnumbered, pondered the sorrowful and indicting words of the emperor Carlos V regarding the Mezquita ("Hacéis lo que hay en otras muchas partes, y habéis deshecho lo que era único en el mundo"), quietly meditated in El Escorial, and beheld Granada from the Sospiro del Moro--and, like Boabdil, wept.

    So, yes--I do think I've had enough life experience to speak up about Spain and about Spanish.

  • The consequence of global ecomixing is global homogenization. Those who proclaim attempts to erect any effective barriers to this ecomixing as "xenophobic threats to the world" are horrifying beyond words. Since this ecomixing is new, the burden of proof is on them to show that what they would impose on everyone via NATO bombs will not cause sufficient net-suffering and even net-destruction as to render payment of reparations less realistic than the reparations that should be paid to the world for Marxism. This proof has not been forthcoming from the globalists to the level of certainty required by the magnitude of their ecological scrambling.

    At present, it appears this situation will continue until not only are virtually all languages, cultures and peoples replaced by the spiritual equivalent of urban blight, but to the point that the very living systems upon which all depend are rendered inoperative. The best hope is that we can rid the planet of technological civiliation; preferably so as to disperse life [geocities.com] allowing true diversity to survive on the earth while enjoying an evolutionary explosion throughout the solar system.

  • by Syberghost ( 10557 ) <syberghost&syberghost,com> on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:42AM (#587056) Homepage
    Gee, the President of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language doesn't want people slowly migrating toward English.

    This is about like the President of GM bitching about Honda outselling his products.

    BTW, this guy's wife makes her living teaching English to Spanish-speakers in New York so they can get jobs. She's accepted it, why can't he?

    -
  • by DeepDarkSky ( 111382 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:44AM (#587058)
    Hey, so what if Spanish proper disapears? If the people decide not to speak Spanish, that somehow it is in their best interest to speak English, because it is perhaps the language of choice of the most technologically affluent in the world, so be it. It reflects the dynamic nature of human societies.

    In some ways, I do resent that somehow people who speak Spanish feel it is necessary to get Spanish spoken everywhere, that somehow Spanish is the only language that matters. Here in NYC, if you tell me that you are in fear of Spanish disappearing, I'd wack you in the head! About half (I exaggerate a little, but it sure seems that way) of the signs are in Spanish! If Spanish is disappearing, it must all be coming to New York!

    Here's a link: The 50 Most Widely Spoken Languages in the World [infoplease.com] that gives you an idea of where things are. It doesn't show, of course, the language spoken by income or by technological level, but with Spanish being the number two language in the world, ahead of English, it is hardly in danger of disappearing. Methinks they are being a little alarmist. Personally, I think they should go to China and demand that half of the signs be in Spanish.

  • by swinge ( 176850 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @04:46AM (#587061)
    Your comment is 100% correct, but misses about 80% of the whole story. Vocabulary, which you focus on, is only a small part of "language". Of course, these Spanish speakers you are critiquing are making the same mistake so I guess that makes your comment reasonably appropriate, but the "linguistic truth" is more interesting. The Spanish language could adopt every English word, and it could still be considered to be the Spanish language. Language has far more grammar (word order, verb tensing, gender, agreement, etc.) and phonology (how the sounds combine with one another in a meaningful way) as it does morphology, and morphology includes a bit more than just the lexicon (dictionary/vocabulary). And, this is how English adopts so many foreign words and still remains English. There was some very interesting "congealing" of French with English in the years following the Normon conquest of 1066AD, but the language remained essentially and recognizably English just the same.

    People love their native tongues for irrational reasons. But given that, the Spanish speakers of the world (and there are a lot of them) should focus their energy on making their economies more productive. Then other people will actually care what they have to say and will take the trouble to learn their language. I'm not saying that's right and just, but it's just the way it is and has always been.

  • by Mzilikazi ( 115009 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @05:11AM (#587063) Homepage
    There's a Spanish language version of Slashdot...

    Barrapunto.com [barrapunto.com]

    It's not a transcription of Slashdot, but many of the same topics show up. I read it once in a blue moon, and this very topic is being hashed out over there.

  • by athlon02 ( 201713 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @05:19AM (#587068)

    I'm not sure of all the facts of where & how & who started the internet, but I do have this much to say:

    If you want more Spanish on internet sites & in tech jargon, then have more Spanish speaking people &/or companies come up with devices & give them Spanish names & slowly let it infiltrate into mainstream tech jargon.

    To rant about how Spanish might be dying out because of so much English tech jargon, is crazy. You must adapt yourself to learn the technological terms of those who created the technology... I call a "Zip Drive" a "Zip Drive" because that is the name IOmega gave it, not me. And so what if it happens to be in English, it was developed by a corporation living in a predominately English speaking country.

    All this is akin to the following:

    If you *live* in the U.S. you *NEED* to learn English, not expect Americans to learn Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Hebrew, etc... We simply cannot learn that many languages to accomodate so many foreign cultures, but the immigrants can afford to learn one language if they choose to live here!

    It's similar to what my university's career center told those of us going to coop jobs. Something to the effect of: "Write down names because the people at work only have one name to learn, you have all of their names to learn."

    And don't get me wrong, if I was going to move to Canada, I'd probably brush up on my french to the point of some fluency in it. If I went to Mexico to *live* there I'd learn Spanish. If I were to live in Italy, I'd learn Italian. It's really that simple. When you move to another country, they aren't required to adapt to you at all, but if you want to have *ANY* hope of fitting in & making a life for yourself, you *MUST* learn at least their language & a lot of their customs (as long as said customs don't compromise your values).

    And for any who might be lame enough to say it, *NO*, learning a new language is not compromising values.

    So again, if tech jargon comes from English speaking "techies" adapt. And if it bugs you, convert the English words to Spanish equivalents in the documentation for Spanish OSes & when talking to other Spanish speaking people, but do *NOT* complain to any English speaking people if you start saying the term in Spanish & they don't know what in the world you are talking about.

    In the words of John Stossel on the news program 20/20... "Give me a break."

  • Forget other languages; the Internet is destroying English at a steady clip. If I read one more email that looks like:
    r u coming over 2night?
    or even one with proper sentance structure, and real words, but no capatalization or puncutation, I'll scream. Happens about once a week. :-) Let alone the jargon, acronyms, 'isms,' 'izations' and creating brand new verbs, such as 'Lets dialouge about this!' that are made up on a regular and daily basis.
  • by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @05:43AM (#587128)
    Spanish has always had problems with intermixing languages. Ask any native Spanish speakers living in the US; for better or for worse, they or someone they know speaks 'Spanglish.' I saw a lot of this when I lived in Puerto Rico, where someone asked me, "Vas a celebrar Crij-ma?" (read: "Will you celebrate Christmas?"). But it's ridiculous to think that any major language will "disappear"... look at Latin, that's been dead in society for hundreds of years, but still being (at least studied) by academics.

    Where I see a REAL problem is with Germany. Use of English in their language is becoming increasingly hip. I was there this summer and about 6 years before that, and the amount of English phrases, words, and idioms being pushed on the German people largely by the media and entertainment industry is astounding. The cool thing to do was to attend the special screenings of American films that weren't dubbed... Radio advertises "Top Hits Today" and one of the major ice-cream brands in "Manhattan Ice Cream" which runs the absolutely funniest commercials with the worst American stereotypes. I also worked in a small firm for that summer, and mostly everyone knew a few phrases of business English, because they knew very well that that was THE language being used, even if they were to communicate with clients from China, Pakistan, or Canada.

    I just remember this joke...

    Q. What do you call a person who speaks three languages?
    A. Tri-lingual.

    Q. What do you call a person who speaks two languages?
    A. B-lingual.

    Q. What do you call a person who speaks one language?
    A. American!

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Saturday December 02, 2000 @05:48AM (#587147) Homepage Journal
    Nothing like stirring a pot to get your 15 minutes of fame. The greatest challenge other languages face is that these advancements are often made in english speaking countries or under the auspices of english rooted companies.

    Sure, you can be like the french and create your own native language word for everything from ASP to Zorkmids, but that just builds a confusing barrier when French techs and non-French techs dialogue.

    Time for people like Mr. Betanzos to wake up and smell the java. Languages have mixed and borrowed since the first fork of peoples (Oh, yeah? Well you go that way and we'll go this way, alright?) American English is a hodgepodge of everything, bearing little resemblance to its germanic origins. Give it a rest.

    --

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