Re: World Language Losses at a Glance

From: Robin Faichney (
Date: Wed Jun 20 2001 - 18:33:42 BST

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    Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 18:33:42 +0100
    Subject: Re: World Language Losses at a Glance
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    In-Reply-To: <>; from on Wed, Jun 20, 2001 at 02:36:02PM +0100
    From: Robin Faichney <>
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    On Wed, Jun 20, 2001 at 02:36:02PM +0100, Vincent Campbell wrote:
    > >> I've always been bemused by the concern over the loss of
    > languages.
    > <There are close parallels between cultural diversity and biological
    > > diversity.>
    > >
    > In what sense though? Biological diversity seems absolutely
    > essential for the survival of quite a lot of organisms on the planet
    > (although I suppose many bacteria could "care less" whether other organisms
    > existed or not), but I'm not sure whether cultural diversity deserves the
    > same kind of concern.
    > OK, at one level we may be losing alternatives to established
    > beliefs, different ways of seeing, etc. etc., but these different ways of
    > seeing often underpin some of the most wretched disputes between peoples
    > around the world, allowing people to find artificial differences between one
    > another thus justifying them killing each other. I think it's a small step
    > from worrying about cultural diversity, and legitimating ambiguous practices
    > hiding behind notions of cultural 'identity'.

    Some Protestants in Northern Ireland claim the right to march in
    an extremely -- some would say, grotesquely -- triumphalist manner
    through mainly Catholic areas, celebrating the outcome of a battle
    between Protestants and Catholics that took place over 300 years ago.
    They claim that right, of course, on the basis that this is one of their
    most valued traditions, an intrinsic part of their cultural identity.
    I think that's utterly disgusting.

    But the answer to it is not to say "that culture deserves to die".
    It is simply to say that all supremacist traditions deserve to die,
    regardless of the culture of which they are part.

    As to whether there's anything of value in threatened cultures, the
    parallel with threatened ecosystems is exact: we just don't know, and
    if they're allowed to disappear will never find out.

    Robin Faichney
    Inside Information -- -- "a prime source of meta-memes"

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