Re: Saving the ethnosphere

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed May 01 2002 - 07:44:39 BST

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Saving the ethnosphere
    Date: Tue, 30 Apr 2002 23:44:39 -0700
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    >--- Grant Callaghan <> wrote:
    > > I forsee
    > > 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.
    > >
    >IMO, this is a major memetic extinction, right there. I really want to
    >see how you can explain calling widespread destruction of cultures and
    >associated memetic contents, as "evolution".
    >The analogy expressed in the article (with extinction of animal
    >species) is perfectly correct, IMO. Even though our current culture
    >puts little if any value on genetic diversity, still there is enough of
    >danger associated with widespread losss of the same, that we all squirm
    >and try not to think about it. We feel that it is bad, even though most
    >are culturaly conditioned to be unable to express exactly why.
    >This is not the case at all with the loss of other cultures - outside
    >of a few individuals in obscure fields like anthropology, nobody has a
    >clue that such a thing is going on, or that it might be a "bad" thing
    >at all. This is all the more compelling reason to explain the problem
    >to them...most of our grand-grandfathers didn't give a damn about
    >"saving the wilderness" or considered the extinction of species to be
    >in any way remarkable or important. Today we know better - but only
    >because we have seen the effects....
    In my opinion, no one is destroying these languages and cultures. They are
    dying from lack of use. Very few of the Indians left in America can speak
    the languages of their ancestors because the culture they now live in
    requires them to speak English in order to survive. This was not some
    planned extinction. The people whose ancestors spoke Choctaw and Chickasaw
    are still alive and functioning in our society. An Oklahoma Governor was a
    Chickasaw. But the culture that their language functioned in no longer
    exists because a new one came along that gives them better tools with which
    to survive in a modern world. The Chickasaw would not have become Governor
    if he had not been able to appeal to the large number of English speakers
    who inhabit his state. At the time Oklahoma became a state, the Chickasaw
    Nation contained 20,000 Chickasaws and over 100,000 white and negro
    settlers. The Chickasaw culture would only have appealed to about 1/5 of
    the population.

    The Chickasaw language was ill suited to talk about railroads and states
    rights and turning an Indian nation into a state of the United States. It
    was quite good for talking about plants and animals and herbal remedies.
    But those plants and animals have mostly been replaced by modern farm
    animals and the herbal remedies have been replaced by modern medecine. The
    Chickasaw language leaves them with little vocabulary that applies to the
    world they now live in. English, on the other hand, is the language of that

    The Chickasaws speak English because that's the language they need in order
    to function and do well in America today. Most of them are doing well. But
    they are doing it as Americans rather than as Chickasaws.


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