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Notes from a Medium-Sized Island [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Jason

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[Jan. 24th, 2004|04:28 pm]
Jason
Finished Abley's "Spoken Here", about endangered and minority languages. Much of it was sob stories about cultures and languages being crushed under the ass of the 900 lb gorilla that is English. Somehow I don't fear this having disastrous consequences, myself; if all of these cultures arose in some way from a primoridal human monoculture, I don't expect any less of humanity than an incredible shattering fragmentation of the Anglephonie in the not-too-distant future. Consider the Provençal speakers Abley situates under the cruel thumb of Parisian French --- both of them are the grandchildren of Latin, and nobody seems to bother crying about the Gaulish that it displaced, only because there's none of them left.

The mutation rate is qualitatively higher for languages, and the selection pressure is lower. I think we will all be fine, as concerns maintaining some sort of minimum level of diversity, no matter how things play out, without intervention. The analogy to biological diversity is flawed, because there is no food-chain. We will not topple a tower of interdependent languages if Manx is never spoken again. French and Spanish and Portuguese and Romanian go on just fine without the academicians' Latin.

---

silly programming language analogy that popped up in a phone conversation:
"...perl is a warehouse full of rope, with a neon sign out front, 'free hanging supplies, help yourself!'. ML says, 'here is a single strand of twine, but I'm watching you!'..."

---

thoughts floating to the top of my head during the walk back from campus about parametricity of LF functions and commuting with substitutions. Not sure what to make of them, yet.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ywong
2004-01-24 09:19 pm (UTC)
I'll bet you wouldn't be so callous about dying languages if it was your precious ML or Twelf or Esperanto that was being threatened!
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From: rdore
2004-01-24 10:26 pm (UTC)
a language must be alive to die ;)
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From: mmia
2004-01-25 02:31 am (UTC)
It came to life through the phenomenon of electrophilology--the electromagnetic force of life embuing history into affixes and mutilated roots.

Disclaimer: I am also totally kidding.
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[User Picture]From: jcreed
2004-01-25 06:07 am (UTC)
Nah, if any of those vanish into the mists of history because they aren't compelling enough on their own terms, or for lack of advertising, so be it. Either they weren't compelling enough, or I didn't participate enough in advertising them well. I nearly feel like I'm a libertarian arguing for the righteousness of market forces.
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[User Picture]From: madmadammim
2004-01-26 05:57 pm (UTC)
I cry every day about Gaulish being displaced!

CRY CRY CRY!

I mean, just look at this handsome fellow!



Why, without this Gaul, and his pal, who would have dispensed with all those pesky Romans?



Don't you think they are sad about their language being displaced?

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