Linguistic minorities

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Dec 18, 2012 6:55 AM GMT
    Are you a speaker of a language or a dialect of a language that is spoken within a minority community or is considered less prestigious than the standard language or dialect?

    I'm very curious to know as I'm doing a bit of research on this topic for a blog project I'm hoping to launch in the near future. I know many of your guys out there are from multilingual countries, so there has to be some perspective you could provide.

    For example, French speakers of Quebec, you guys are certainly not a minority within your own province as French is the official language of Quebec. However, the rest of Canada isn't so French friendly except in a few other smaller communities. But it's not like English speakers of Canada have any obligation to know French although many Quebecois have various degrees of English proficiency. Always a very interesting and complex situation.

    Or maybe you speak a variety of Chinese that is always being pushed out in favor of Mandarin by the government.

    Or maybe you're an American citizen or resident with an immigrant background. There's a lot of drama concerning the so-called "English Only" movement, yet Spanish was spoken in this country long before the first English peeps landed here.

    I'm looking for things like that. Any input is greatly appreciated.
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    Dec 18, 2012 7:43 AM GMT
    If you haven't done so already, I strongly recommend that you read a book entitled, "When Languages Die" by K. David Harrison. He's a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

    It deals to some extent with linguistic discrimination but more so with linguistic assimilation.

    Anyway, here in Hawai'i we have a dialect of English known as Pidgin, or in more academic circles, Hawai'i Creole.

    Those who speak Pidgin often face both social and economic discrimination.

    In the years that I've lived in Hawai'i, I've met people of partial Hawaiian ancestry who regard Pidgin as the patois of the uneducated, the working class and the poor. There are certainly many White people who move here from the mainland who regard Pidgin-speakers (and sadly, Pacific Islanders in general) as "island niggers".

    It's interesting that this dialect which developed from over a century of immigration from Asia, Europe, the US Mainland and the Pacific Islands, along with grammatical aspects from the actual Hawaiian language, and which defines Hawai'i as a unique culture is so maligned here in Hawai'i itself and even by people who are part Native Hawaiian.

    I find it interesting that people will draw lines between themselves and "the others" in any way they can to feel superior; language is just another venue for this to occur.

    I recently met a new bar-buddy who grew up in rural North Carolina and he told me that he had to work hard at being able to speak standard North American English and to lose his Southern accent. He felt that if he had not done so, he would be regarded as stupid and uneducated.

    I find it sad that this linguistic wealth and diversity that occurs in almost every country in the world is falling victim to discrimination at the hands of those who speak the "standard" language.

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    Dec 18, 2012 7:50 AM GMT
    Hey Smegmatron, I voted for you as "Smallest penis" in the RealJock awards 2012 thread. Just wanted to let you know.
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    Dec 18, 2012 7:50 AM GMT
    What about a non-spoken language, like American Sign Language ( ASL )?

    ASL has always been thought of as "Not a real language" because most people consider it to be purely based off of gestures and body language, but, it has it's on grammar, sentence structure, facial expressions and words.

    I think it'd fall under your category of "less prestigious" as it does belong to a "minority".
  • Angelix90

    Posts: 267

    Dec 18, 2012 7:55 AM GMT
    nicodegallo said

    Or maybe you speak a variety of Chinese that is always being pushed out in favor of Mandarin by the government.



    Nobody speaks Chinese. It's a race. The correct term would be Mandarin dialect. Other than Mandarin and Cantonese, I speak Hakka and Hokkien. The main reason that dialects are not "mainstream" because it's a spoken language, not written. All the Chinese characters are Mandarin and sometimes Cantonese if you are from Hong Kong.

    I also speak Malay. It's a language used mostly in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:00 AM GMT
    Smegmatron saidIf you haven't done so already, I strongly recommend that you read a book entitled, "When Languages Die" by K. David Harrison. He's a professor of linguistics at Swarthmore College.

    It deals to some extent with linguistic discrimination but more so with linguistic assimilation.

    Anyway, here in Hawai'i we have a dialect of English known as Pidgin, or in more academic circles, Hawai'i Creole.

    Those who speak Pidgin often face both social and economic discrimination.

    In the years that I've lived in Hawai'i, I've met people of partial Hawaiian ancestry who regard Pidgin as the patois of the uneducated, the working class and the poor. There are certainly many White people who move here from the mainland who regard Pidgin-speakers (and sadly, Pacific Islanders in general) as "island niggers".

    It's interesting that this dialect which developed from over a century of immigration from Asia, Europe, the US Mainland and the Pacific Islands, along with grammatical aspects from the actual Hawaiian language, and which defines Hawai'i as a unique culture is so maligned here in Hawai'i itself and even by people who are part Native Hawaiian.

    I find it interesting that people will draw lines between themselves and "the others" in any way they can to feel superior; language is just another venue for this to occur.

    I recently met a new bar-buddy who grew up in rural North Carolina and he told me that he had to work hard at being able to speak standard North American English and to lose his Southern accent. He felt that if he had not done so, he would be regarded as stupid and uneducated.

    I find it sad that this linguistic wealth and diversity that occurs in almost every country in the world is falling victim to discrimination at the hands of those who speak the "standard" language.



    I have that book you mentioned. I had to read it for one of my linguistics classes in college. A lot of what I'm interested in researching stems from things in that book.

    I know exactly what you're talking about regarding the situation in Hawaii. It came up in a class discussion along with Singlish in Singapore. Many similarities between the two situations. Both are also not entirely different from Spanglish found within Hispanic communities of the US either.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:04 AM GMT
    Angelix90 said
    nicodegallo said

    Or maybe you speak a variety of Chinese that is always being pushed out in favor of Mandarin by the government.



    Nobody speaks Chinese. It's a race. The correct term would be Mandarin dialect. Other than Mandarin and Cantonese, I speak Hakka and Hokkien. The main reason that dialects are not "mainstream" because it's a spoken language, not written. All the Chinese characters are Mandarin and sometimes Cantonese if you are from Hong Kong.

    I also speak Malay. It's a language used mostly in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.


    A lot of languages in China are not Mandarin, though, but other Chinese languages. Even then, there are many regional variations of Mandarin within those communities with different languages.

    Apparently there is a difference between Malay and Malaysian. The government claims that "Malaysian" is the official language of Malaysia, which is a standardized variety of the Malay language.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:06 AM GMT
    Slim2010 saidWhat about a non-spoken language, like American Sign Language ( ASL )?

    ASL has always been thought of as "Not a real language" because most people consider it to be purely based off of gestures and body language, but, it has it's on grammar, sentence structure, facial expressions and words.

    I think it'd fall under your category of "less prestigious" as it does belong to a "minority".


    What I find incredibly fascinating about ASL and all sign languages is that they have no genetic relation and dialectal mutual intelligibility. For example, an American and a Brit cannot communicate with each other using their own sign language because they are entirely different signing systems despite being the same language in oral and written communication.

    But yes, I've often heard of that perception of ASL, especially in college admissions. Many universities do not consider ASL a foreign language when trying to fulfill various foreign language requirements. Some high schools are the same with their diploma programs.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:13 AM GMT
    The language vs dialect debate is always tricky. While it's easy enough to assume that a variety of a language you can understand is a dialect and one you can't is another language, there are many exceptions. A lot of similar languages are classified as separate languages instead of dialects because of political motivation ( e.g. Croatian, Serbian, Bosnian, Montenegrin). The same is true of very different languages being treated as dialects of a single language (e.g. Arabic).
  • Angelix90

    Posts: 267

    Dec 18, 2012 8:18 AM GMT
    nicodegallo said
    Angelix90 said
    nicodegallo said

    Or maybe you speak a variety of Chinese that is always being pushed out in favor of Mandarin by the government.



    Nobody speaks Chinese. It's a race. The correct term would be Mandarin dialect. Other than Mandarin and Cantonese, I speak Hakka and Hokkien. The main reason that dialects are not "mainstream" because it's a spoken language, not written. All the Chinese characters are Mandarin and sometimes Cantonese if you are from Hong Kong.

    I also speak Malay. It's a language used mostly in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.


    A lot of languages in China are not Mandarin, though, but other Chinese languages. Even then, there are many regional variations of Mandarin within those communities with different languages.

    Apparently there is a difference between Malay and Malaysian. The government claims that "Malaysian" is the official language of Malaysia, which is a standardized variety of the Malay language.


    Most people in China understand and speak Mandarin. However, because of their roots, they prefer to converse in their own dialects. It can be Hockkien, Hakka, Teowchew and etc. Yet, all of them are the variations of Mandarins but the pronunciation and intonation are totally different.

    We do not speak Malaysian. Malaysian is a nationality. It's like saying you're speaking Australian if you're from Australia. Most people here are bilingual or trilingual. The four main languages in Malaysia are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:26 AM GMT
    Angelix90 said
    nicodegallo said
    Angelix90 said
    nicodegallo said

    Or maybe you speak a variety of Chinese that is always being pushed out in favor of Mandarin by the government.



    Nobody speaks Chinese. It's a race. The correct term would be Mandarin dialect. Other than Mandarin and Cantonese, I speak Hakka and Hokkien. The main reason that dialects are not "mainstream" because it's a spoken language, not written. All the Chinese characters are Mandarin and sometimes Cantonese if you are from Hong Kong.

    I also speak Malay. It's a language used mostly in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.


    A lot of languages in China are not Mandarin, though, but other Chinese languages. Even then, there are many regional variations of Mandarin within those communities with different languages.

    Apparently there is a difference between Malay and Malaysian. The government claims that "Malaysian" is the official language of Malaysia, which is a standardized variety of the Malay language.


    Most people in China understand and speak Mandarin. However, because of their roots, they prefer to converse in their own dialects. It can be Hockkien, Hakka, Teowchew and etc. Yet, all of them are the variations of Mandarins but the pronunciation and intonation are totally different.

    We do not speak Malaysian. Malaysian is a nationality. It's like saying you're speaking Australian if you're from Australia. Most people here are bilingual or trilingual. The four main languages in Malaysia are English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil.


    The Chinese government calls them "dialects", but most linguists consider them to be different languages because they are not intelligible to Mandarin speakers outside those areas. Many of them are not even that closely related to Mandarin, although there is a lot of disagreement as to how to classify each variety precisely.

    Regarding Malay, the Malaysian government says Malay (Bahasa Melayu) is the national language of the country and of ethnic Malay people, but the standardized version of the language for all citizens is called Malaysian (Bahasa Malaysia).

    http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2007/6/4/nation/17923478&sec=nation

    Once again, an example of political motivation and political correctness rather than being pragmatic about language use.

    I'm not at all trying to discredit what you were saying. But I'm trying to demonstrate the disconnect between what the government believes is the language people should use versus what an active speech community actually uses.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:47 AM GMT
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidDuz ebonikz couwnt?

    Cuz daz mah thang.....


    Eye theenk he tallkin' uhbout reel layngwuges mah bruthuh. icon_wink.gif
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:50 AM GMT
    Slim2010 said
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidDuz ebonikz couwnt?

    Cuz daz mah thang.....


    Eye theenk he tallkin' uhbout reel layngwuges mah bruthuh. icon_wink.gif


    Haha, Ebonics, or rather, African American Vernacular English, certainly most qualifies for this discussion. There is a ton of research regarding English in the black community. Despite all the stigma attached to it, AAVE has consistent and logical grammar like any other language. There's nothing inherently inferior about it. People decide that it's inferior to other varieties of English. It's just that it differs in significant ways from most varieties of American English that some people have developed this negative perception of it.
  • calibro

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    Dec 18, 2012 4:04 PM GMT
    i don't think "irregardless" or "vandalizer" are words nor spell "definitely" an "a," which puts me in the minority
  • Medjai

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    Dec 18, 2012 4:06 PM GMT
    Does proper English count? I feel like its a dying language these days.
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    Dec 18, 2012 4:39 PM GMT
    Medjai saidDoes proper English count? I feel like its a dying language these days.


    Ha, English was never "proper" to begin with when you consider the language's history!
  • thatirishbast...

    Posts: 3523

    Dec 18, 2012 4:52 PM GMT
    I grew up in a region of Ireland called the Gaeltacht were Irish is still spoken among the people. It was the primary language of my household. There are about 300,000 fluent speakers, and growing. After we gained our independence, the Irish government mandated the teaching of Irish, or Gaeilge in many of the schools. However, regions where the language is prominent remain small and mainly in the west in counties such as Galway, Clare, and Donegal
  • groundcombat

    Posts: 945

    Dec 18, 2012 4:53 PM GMT
    nicodegallo said
    Slim2010 said
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidDuz ebonikz couwnt?

    Cuz daz mah thang.....


    Eye theenk he tallkin' uhbout reel layngwuges mah bruthuh. icon_wink.gif


    Haha, Ebonics, or rather, African American Vernacular English, certainly most qualifies for this discussion. There is a ton of research regarding English in the black community. Despite all the stigma attached to it, AAVE has consistent and logical grammar like any other language. There's nothing inherently inferior about it. People decide that it's inferior to other varieties of English. It's just that it differs in significant ways from most varieties of American English that some people have developed this negative perception of it.


    Yeah I'm no linguist but could see that. I used to think it was just messed up English but having grown up around it, I find myself using it when I go home even though I know the rules of American English. It really kind of has it's own language evolution like any other language.

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    Dec 18, 2012 4:59 PM GMT
    groundcombat said
    nicodegallo said
    Slim2010 said
    MuchMoreThanMuscle saidDuz ebonikz couwnt?

    Cuz daz mah thang.....


    Eye theenk he tallkin' uhbout reel layngwuges mah bruthuh. icon_wink.gif


    Haha, Ebonics, or rather, African American Vernacular English, certainly most qualifies for this discussion. There is a ton of research regarding English in the black community. Despite all the stigma attached to it, AAVE has consistent and logical grammar like any other language. There's nothing inherently inferior about it. People decide that it's inferior to other varieties of English. It's just that it differs in significant ways from most varieties of American English that some people have developed this negative perception of it.


    Yeah I'm no linguist but could see that. I used to think it was just messed up English but having grown up around it, I find myself using it when I go home even though I know the rules of American English. It really kind of has it's own language evolution like any other language.



    That's very true. There are plenty of wealthy and educated people who still speak AAVE on a regular basis, at least within their close social circles.

    I must admit for a long time I used to hold a grudge against Spanglish. It's easy for people to think it's just a bunch of Hispanic people who don't know how to speak standard English or standard Spanish properly. It's far from as simple as that. When I lived in San Antonio, TX for a year and heard Spanglish around me every day, I definitely came to understand how it was useful. I myself started picking it up and quite fast at that. The only thing that still throws me off is how many Spanish words take on a different meaning in the US. For example, if you drive around San Antonio, you will see many businesses offering aseguranza, which means insurance. However, that is not the standard word for insurance in any Spanish-speaking country. In Mexico and everywhere else, they say seguro. Yet somehow aseguranza became the word of choice among Hispanics in Texas.
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    Dec 18, 2012 5:01 PM GMT
    thatirishbastard saidI grew up in a region of Ireland called the Gaeltacht were Irish is still spoken among the people. It was the primary language of my household. There are about 300,000 fluent speakers, and growing. After we gained our independence, the Irish government mandated the teaching of Irish, or Gaeilge in many of the schools. However, regions where the language is prominent remain small and mainly in the west in counties such as Galway, Clare, and Donegal


    You reminded me of an article BBC posted a few years ago about the teaching of Irish in schools and some of the backlash it has caused with young people who have no interest in the language or feel it has no practical use in most urban areas of Ireland. I need to look for that again because some of the info from that article is fascinating.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:22 PM GMT
    thatirishbastard saidI grew up in a region of Ireland called the Gaeltacht were Irish is still spoken among the people. It was the primary language of my household. There are about 300,000 fluent speakers, and growing. After we gained our independence, the Irish government mandated the teaching of Irish, or Gaeilge in many of the schools. However, regions where the language is prominent remain small and mainly in the west in counties such as Galway, Clare, and Donegal


    I think you'll find what is meant by "fluent" is pretty fluid. Some people would consider themselves fluent being able to say Hello, please, thank you and goodbye. I think in reality the Gaeltacht and overall everyday speakers would number a maximum of 30,000, about 10% of your figure. Unfortunately, Gaelige has died a death, no small thanks to the school curriculum. I think it's way too late now to go back. It's sad, but it is the way most languages go eventually. Maybe if we hadn't become independent, we would still be Irish speakers as a form of national identity and separateness from the English, like Welsh is for the Welsh where it is thriving. Slán libh anois!
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:32 PM GMT
    ^^Welsh is an interesting case. For some decades there, the language seemed to be bouncing back after years of oppression. But now some of the recent numbers are suggesting that Welsh could be in trouble again because the number of speakers is steadily declining.
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:41 PM GMT
    My only fluent language is English, and I know a decent amount of Spanish from having lots of Mexican friends. icon_wink.gif

    My Filipino immigrant parents both speak the standard Tagalog. But my mom can also speak her regional dialect called "Illocano", and my dad can speak his regional dialect called "Zambal".
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    Dec 18, 2012 8:42 PM GMT
    Minority within a linguistic minority:



    enjoy!

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    Dec 18, 2012 9:00 PM GMT
    nicodegallo said
    Slim2010 saidWhat about a non-spoken language, like American Sign Language ( ASL )?

    ASL has always been thought of as "Not a real language" because most people consider it to be purely based off of gestures and body language, but, it has it's on grammar, sentence structure, facial expressions and words.

    I think it'd fall under your category of "less prestigious" as it does belong to a "minority".


    What I find incredibly fascinating about ASL and all sign languages is that they have no genetic relation and dialectal mutual intelligibility. For example, an American and a Brit cannot communicate with each other using their own sign language because they are entirely different signing systems despite being the same language in oral and written communication.

    But yes, I've often heard of that perception of ASL, especially in college admissions. Many universities do not consider ASL a foreign language when trying to fulfill various foreign language requirements. Some high schools are the same with their diploma programs.


    This is becasue ASL is not "signed English". ASL is its own language. The grammar, and rules are completely different than English. When looking at history ASL is more closely related to French Sign Language than British Sign Language The Braidwood family in England was the first to develop a method of teaching British Sign Language. When Thomas Gallaudet from the United states traveled to Europe in order to learn how to teach signed language back home, he was denied by the Braidwoods because they wanted to keep their teaching methods a secret. Gallaudet then ended up in France where he learned the teaching styles they used to teach the Deaf signed language. Gallaudet returned to the United States and began the teaching here.

    I condensed the information quite a bit so I hope it all still makes sense.