Monday, January 29, 2007

Egghead Handringing

I am tempted to go to the conference linked above. I don't know why, I would probably just get angry. Their main topic seems to be whether or not English should be replaced as the language of academia. They seem to think that English is a form of cultural imperialism.

Some questions.

Which language wouldn't be? If 80% of the research were printed in French would that be French cultural imperialism? Until 1911 China was an actual Empire, albeit a rather piss poor one, does that exclude them from being the official language of research? How about Spanish? Get real Spain ran one of the most oppressive empires in modern times. Russian? Anyone who doesn't think that the USSR was an imperial power is simply deluded. So how is any other language better?

Let us not even get into the question of ASCI. Computer languages are based upon a stilted and geeky form English. Are we going to rewrite the binary code because otherwise, even if one types in Chinese they are still using English at the programming level?

In order to be imperialistic, cultural or military it would seem to me that there must be a person or group that is building an empire. That is not the case with English. Yes, the use of English is, in many ways the result of the British Empire. But, the British, not even the snobby ex-colonials you still meet in Hong Kong who purposely misspell words to make it easier for their nasal accent to pronounce look at it as a form of imperialism. Well, maybe those guys but nobody else.

The real issue here is that most research is in English because most research is done in English speaking countries by people who speak English as their fist language. Why should I have to write in Kermit simply because some French librarian thinks it a shame that Kermit librarians don't publish enough? I thought that the goal of publishing research was to disseminate the information to as wide an audience as possible. If so, wouldn't it make sense to publish the article in a language that the most people can read?

Also, and not incidentally, English happens to be a very good language to publish research in because it has fewer controls upon the introduction of new words than say French or Spanish which makes it not only adaptable but considerably less ethnocentric. As much as the BBC-ophiles may wish; there is no academy of usage that controls English grammar and spelling. English is spelt or spelled differently in different countries and locations. Usage and pronunciation changes from place to place as well.

This just looks like another attempt by guilty whites to debase themselves and to prove to themselves that they aren't Americans. (As if the Americans would have them) Indeed, the whole exercise smacks of the snobby anti-Americanism that European elites so love to engage in.

If any of them read this they will wail and moan and bitch and groan about how I am forcing my language upon the down trodden and oppressed masses. My response is simple, I actually care for the down trodden. I want them to become free and prosperous. The fastest way for that to happen is if their plight can be made known to me without relying upon a government interpretors' lies about their condition. I cannot see how having research printed in obscure languages helps very many people? More than that, because I cannot read about what is going on I cannot become concerned. Having a greater diversity of languages would simply mean more oppression and because it would be easier for left-wing dictators like Robert Mugabe to hide what they are doing. It would mean that I have to rely upon what other people, translators say.

This conference is simply about academic Anti-Americanism. I'd be willing to bet real money there will also be a large salting of antisemitism there as well because European antisemitism and anti-Americanism seem to hold hands quite often but that is another post. Limiting the role the US has in the world might be a good thing. But limiting English simply because it is spoken in the US is a bad idea.

Don't get me wrong, I can be and have been and will continue to be as critical of the US as the next person; probably more so in many cases. The difference is that I try to limit my criticism to substantive things. I also realize as evidently Europeans don't that criticism is a two-edged sword. If they wish to call me vulgar; I can call them snobs. If they want to complain about US military policy; I can complain about their cowardice. They can call me materialistic and I can call them envious. What they call "The Ugly American" is sometimes simply reciprocity.

I may go to this conference for the lunch. I may not.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The The Europhobic Blogger

1 comment:

T.S. said...

I loved this post. It reminds me of that scene in the monty python movie "life of brian" and they are all complaining about the Romans and proposing a treaty to denounce them, but keep having to add exceptions like the aqueduct, law and order, ect ect