[Foundation-l] Preservation of cultural diversity and minority languages

daniwo59 at aol.com daniwo59 at aol.com
Sat Feb 9 22:53:44 UTC 2008

In a message dated 2/9/2008 1:26:05 PM Eastern Standard Time,  
gerard.meijssen at gmail.com writes:

When you speak multiple languages, there are things you can  express really
well in one but not in another language. The notion that all  languages are
equal is wrong. Consequently there are no "perfect" sub or  supersets of
languages. When you state that "we should" I would prefer that  you speak for
yourself because I do not feel included and I could not  disagree with you

I have to agree with Gerard here, and I say that as someone who is  
completely bilingual, and who has translated for a living. There is a level of  comfort 
and familiarity you have with one languages that you do not have  with 
another., based on how and where you use the language. For instance, I can  take 
apart a rifle in Hebrew, but I have no idea what the same parts are in  English. 
Nor is this just anecdotal. Linguists and social anthropologists talk about  
code-switching between languages, often mid-sentence, a phenomenon anyone who  
grew up in a bilingual home is familiar with. I once did work on a study of  
this among elderly Tunisian Jewish immigrant women in Israel--it was  
interesting because they came to Israel speaking both French (in formal,  communal 
situations) and Arabic (in more casual, home-related situations),  then added 
Hebrew to the mix--what the researcher tried to do was to identify  the language 
shifts as the women gave oral histories of their immigration  experience. 
To quote from Wikipedia itself, "Even if someone is highly proficient in  two 
or more languages, his so-called communicative competence or ability  may not 
be as balanced." (see [[Multilingualism]]). Essentially, to identify  
bilingualism with equivalent linguistic competence is simply not based in  fact.

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