5 thoughts on “Why it’s a good thing when languages die out: a boorish philistine’s take”

  1. Posted 13/01/2017 at 11:48 | Permalink

    Moron who cant speak his own language no doubt. Lets make all flavours vanilla while were at it. Cheaper easier and UNINVERSAL. What an asshole.

  2. Posted 13/01/2017 at 14:36 | Permalink

    “But even then, you will have experienced the frustration that comes with not understanding what people are trying to tell you, and with people not understanding what you are trying to tell them. ”

    “If we could flip a switch, and reset the world to a single common language, we should do it without a moment’s hesitation.”

    Kris – this is surely an argument for a common language, not a single language.

    I think there are some advantages in a diversity of languages just as there are advantages in a common language. We could have both (and arguably, English is already becoming the global common language). We don’t have to abolish the former to gain the latter.

    I would provide an example from the field of currency, by way of illustration. The EU could have adopted a common currency (i.e. in addition to national currencies) instead of a single currency (replacing single currencies). How much better the former would have been!

  3. Posted 13/01/2017 at 17:15 | Permalink

    HJ – yes, I have no problems with regional languages, as long as everybody in that region is perfectly bilingual. (Catalan would be a good example.) That might well be the best of both worlds: you get the identity-forming, social-capital-generating effects of an in-group language, without increases in transaction costs.

  4. Posted 14/01/2017 at 02:16 | Permalink

    Whereas some elites think it ideal if peoples get to retain their “native” language so it doesn’t die out, the actual people involved have a rather different take on the matter. They also want to speak the language that the elites already have, and take for granted, so they too have access to the world’s wealth. So they are dropping their local languages and learning more useful ones.

    Why not advocate that some cultures shouldn’t cure local diseases as well as languages? After all malaria is a part of Haitian culture, so it would be a shame to lose it. And will Sudanese culture not be altered irrevocably by the loss of Sleeping Sickness? And think of all the wealth creation that having to have doctors and nurses and hospitals brings!

    Yes, that’s an extreme analogy, but to argue that other people should have to bear an extra burden because you like the variety is selfishness incarnate.

    If you think the world needs to have lots of extra languages then you go ahead and learn some obscure Bantu dialect. Let the rest of us choose the language that gets us further ahead for the least effort.

  5. Posted 16/01/2017 at 00:15 | Permalink

    There are many language spoken only by a few people, and they are the ones to die out for good. They have little cultural “consumption” value. For example, Nigeria has over 521, but the great writers like Wole Soyinka writes English with some pidgin. Also cultural goods have markets and obey the laws of demand and supply. That is, literature accessible to a greater audience is more likely to gain recognition.
    So, we should teach English as first language in all schools and adopt it as a global common economic language. Maybe this is the switch Prof Niemietz speaks about, and it will take a generation to turn it over, but not much longer. Although on a local level, many universities and firms already switched to English. This is a market driven change already happening. Publish or perish in academia means publish in English or perish.
    For pure nationalist reasons to please the right-wing populists many governments work against the market forces by forcing their local language on immigrants and international students even if the latter is of no relevance. Notable examples of countries I know from personal working experience are Malaysia and Germany. Malaysia enforces Bahasa courses on my students, a language outside Malaysia as valuable as Klingon (which at least is widely spoken at Star Trek conventions). Germany required foreign spouses to be fluent in German before issuing a visa, a regulation revoked by a EU court.

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