Re: Saving the ethnosphere

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Tue Apr 30 2002 - 06:19:14 BST

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    Subject: Re: Saving the ethnosphere
    Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 22:19:14 -0700
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    > Name calling doesn't help anything. But I have some knowledge of American
    > Indian languages and I have watched them disappear over the years because
    > they are no longer of use to the people whose parents spoke them. The
    > applies to European and Asian languages that came over here with
    > They disappear from the lives of the children of the people who brought
    > them because they are no longer useful to anyone. You can't use them to
    > study in school or buy something when you shop. They won't help you learn
    > how to fix a car or become proficient in mathematics or literature. They
    > only thing they are useful for is to remember the old ways of people who
    > longer carry on the type of existence in which the language was useful.
    > Language helps you cope with and exist in the society in which you live.
    > language that doesn't deal with such a world is doomed to extinction
    > because, like all memes, it was chosen for its usefulness as a tool for
    > living. When it ceases to be useful, it ceases to be used. When we no
    > longer use it, we lose it.
    > I base this opinion on watchine my wife and daughter lose their skill with
    > Taiwanese after coming to America. My wife still speaks the language
    > because she talks to a number of friends in that language on a daily
    > My daughter only uses it on rare occasions when she talks to her mother.
    > But my wife has lost the ability to read and write the language and my
    > daughter has almost lost the ability to speak it, simply because they have
    > no real reason for doing so. Most of what they need to do in life needs
    > be done using English. My daughter's only child only speaks as much
    > as was taught in a local college for two semesters. It was not even the
    > same dialect his mother speaks. A year later he's already forgotten most
    > what he learned from lack of practice. None of my other children speak
    > Chinese of any dialect. After my wife and I are gone, so will our
    > use of Chinese. The same process is happening all over the world. I
    > a time when the world will only use half a dozen languages and perhaps a
    > time when there will only be one, with several local dialects. That's
    > memetic evolution in a nutshell.

    That's the same analytic viewpoint I hold too. Thanks for your elaboration
    Mind you Mr Benzon, that we refrain from making politically sensitive


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