Monday, June 29, 2009

cultural dominance, language change

'Donald MacQueen has examined the word million in English, especially how language usage shifted from the previously nearly totally dominant “five millions of inhabitants” to today’s “five million inhabitants.”'

It turns out that the modern construction took over in the American newspapers in the middle of the 1880s and in the British The Times only in the mid 1910s. What’s more, it became apparent that the transitional period was shorter in The Times. These circumstances indicate that usage in American newspapers influenced and accelerated the shift in the British newspaper.

This took place at the height of the British empire, and roughly when the US economy overtook the British for the first time.

D: lessons?
The Chinese will start contributing more to global vocabulary with loan-words by around 2020, and much more so by around 2050.


D: this article tends to agree.

"The popularity and spread of a native language has always been a function of the economy of the country to which it belongs. Consider the British. They were the world rulers at one point of time in history and had an extremely strong economy - a fact that spawned the adage “the sun never sets on the English soil”. Along with their domination came the proliferation of their language, English."
D: The author has some amusing notions about how easy English is to learn, though.
If the author clarified that a pidgin or creole version is easy, I would have agreed.
It seems quite improbable and far-fetched that the most widely spoke language in the "world will also become the most popular. "

D: a version sans lexical pitch and divorced from the Chinese writing system seems more likely. Resulting in huge numbers of homophones, which would be terribly confusing.
The pidgin reaction is typically to vary them somehow, reducing brevity.
Word reduplication would also reduce brevity.

D: here are some loan-words from Chinese.

Chop chop, chow, ketchup, tea.

D: mostly food for now.

D: as always, I propose an intelligently designed English-Chinese interlanguage.
Not only as an acceptable compromise for the English (now) and Chinese (then), but also as a fairly palatable world language.
Decimese (the compromise language) would be more acceptable than Esperanto is by design principles.
However, it would be less widely and simply usable than, the LangX/Lang53 proposed creoles.
However, since Mandarin has such restricted syllable forms, it nonetheless forms a nearly-ideal basis for word formation, once divorced from pitch for lexical purposes.
Reintroducing pitch later for certain refined lexical and/or grammatical purposes remains an option.


For some unknown reason, The Language X Institute has chosen not to purse pitch in future iterations.
Pitch makes as much sense as adding more phonemes.
Furthermore, as I've observed before, I think their reintroduction of increased numbers of phonemes requires some modification to be ideal.
They wish to reintroduce phonemes at a linear rate as the language becomes increasingly popular.
I think most phonemes cannot be reintroduced until such time as LangX is a childhood language for most people.
Otherwise, it will serve as a barrier to adult acquisition, which will still be the case for a significant portion of the world's population.


1 comment:

dino snider said...

If you don't mind me asking, if you learned Esperanto, what is your academic / linguistic background and experience? I'd be curious what the typical profile of an Esperantist is. D.