Re: Saving the ethnosphere

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 06:11:09 BST

  • Next message: Philip Jonkers: "Re: Saving the ethnosphere"

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    From: "Philip Jonkers" <>
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    Subject: Re: Saving the ethnosphere  
    Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 22:11:09 -0700
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    Look Mr. Benzon, the main thrust in my argument was that in a cultural
    struggle where `bigger'
    languages devour smaller ones and thus the latter ones lose their
    functionality why strain so much
    to preserve them? I did not say anything about human beings, let alone
    anything disrespectful.
    Read my comments more carefully next time before you pass an offending
    judgment please.

    Thanks Lawrence for backing me up.

    Philip "mindless fool" Jonkers.

    ps. Def.: obsolescent language: a language that is no longer used in
    communication between people. Languages
    just as most other cultural entities evolve, extinction is by definition
    part and parcel of the process, period.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "William Benzon" <>
    To: <>
    Sent: Monday, April 29, 2002 2:35 PM
    Subject: Re: Saving the ethnosphere

    > on 4/29/02 2:33 PM, Lawrence DeBivort at wrote:
    > > "Mindless fool"?
    > >
    > > I think Philip is referring to the preservation of obsolescing
    > > William, not the destruction of human beings and their habitats.
    > Well, he just stuck a broad general comment at the head of an article that
    > talked about, among other things, "the destruction of human beings and
    > habitats" -- as you put it. He didn't say anything to disapprove of that.
    > But he did casually refer to "redundant languages" and "superfluous
    > languages" just as you refer to "obsolescing languages," terms not used or
    > defined in the original article. Mr. Jonkers didn't provide definitions
    > those terms, nor have you of yours. As far as I know, these are not
    > standard terms in any academic discipline. So, how are these notions
    > defined? Who determines which languages are redundant or obsolete and
    > what's the criterion? Languages evolve, they change, but obsolesce....?
    > I'd considered the possibility that Mr. Jonkers made his comment without
    > having read much more than the title of the argument. But, if so, that
    > hardly absolves him of making a mindless comment. OTOH, your comment
    > quite deliberate.
    > > Agree or
    > > disagree with it, he offers an interesting POV, not a mindless or a
    > > one.
    > >
    > > I know a language that has now become extinct. I like it aesthetically,
    > > don't think that it has diminished human capacities to have lost it.
    > If you know the language, then it's not quite extinct. It may not be a
    > living language in the sense of being spoken a written today, but it
    > in the form of texts and perhaps grammar books.
    > That article was talking about languages and ways of life which may well
    > disappear from the face of the earth without leaving a trace. No written
    > texts -- not even a Bible translated into the language -- no reference
    > grammars, no recordings of music, no films or video tapes of rituals, no
    > photographs of dwellings, nothing.
    > > The
    > > descendants of the people who spoke it are alive and flourishing, and
    > > the lost language as an historical curiosity -- not a catastrophe.
    > What about the people who see their world dying, who know that, when they
    > get old, there won't be anyone around to speak their native tongue? I'm
    > particularly concerned about their descendents 100 years from now. I'm
    > concerned about them, now.
    > You and Mr. Jonkers seem to dismiss those living people entirely. Instead
    > he talks of a "natural process in an environment with progressive global
    > communication" as though this process were as utterly beyond human
    > as the motions of the stars. You both seem to have completely lost sight
    > the people who speak these languages. As far as you're concerned, they're
    > just part of this natural process, losers in the natural evolution of the
    > memosphere.
    > One consequence of this way of thinking is that you give tacit approval to
    > morality of might makes right. "Let progress roll over them like waves on
    > the beach. In 5 or 10 years they'll be forgotten. Who cares, it's all
    > natural." That's what you seem to be saying.
    > I stand by my original comment.
    > Bill Benzon
    > ===============================================================
    > This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    > Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    > For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)
    > see:

    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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