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View Diary: Idiocy at the State Department (85 comments)

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  •  In India (7+ / 0-)

    English is one of the official languages of the government. The one that high court rulings are written in. The one that most national politicians address the nation in.

    In addition, English is the most international language. It hardly belongs to the English, or the Americans. It has a great many words from other languages. So many so that a fluent reader of English is expected to recognize > 100,000 words; while a fluent reader of French is expected to recognize > 40,000, and a fluent reader of Mandarin less than 10,000.

    That last is why, in business dealings where all involved are fluent in both Mandarin and English, the negotiations and contracts will be in English. It's simply more capable and precise.

    A language, in a real sense, is a technology. English is the best technology. It would be presumptious to think that "third world" people can't thrive with it.

    •  Interesting (1+ / 0-)
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      Seattle Mark

      I've been watching a lot of Anime recently, and have been struck at how some words seem to have multiple translations in English. A character might say "hai" and the subtitle will read "OK", "sure", "yes ma'am", "I'm on it", "right away", "let's go", "ready" the standard "yes" and others. I could very well be missing some subtle tone or syntax clues (I don't speak Japanese) but it seems to me the Japanese language gets a lot of mileage out of that one syllable word.  

      "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

      by Orinoco on Sun Apr 21, 2013 at 12:28:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I suspect... (1+ / 0-)
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        I suspect that English demands, like all the Romance languages do, too, words or syntax for social register. English has only one "you" now, but it formerly had two of them -- just as German does (and the Romance languages). In Japanese, the words don't -- I think -- carry the social register, as that is laid onto gesture and policed by actual class structures.

        Thus, "Yes" in English can be "yes, certainly, and give it no more thought" (sure), "I agree" (OK), and various other shadings, each with a separate word, as well as new words to mark respect or familiarity ("Yes, sir" as opposed to "Yeah"), while Japanese would use physical gesture and rely on social rules.

        The one thing English is good at is growing inventory.

        Everyone is innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 03:33:15 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There seem to be social conventions (1+ / 0-)
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          The Geogre

          for proper names.
          Rose-chan, Rose-san and Rose-sama would be translated as Rosy, Miss Rose and Lady Rose, respectively.
          In person, or watching anime, physical gestures and social rules are obvious (although I do wonder whether I am missing some subtle meanings sometimes by not understanding when a character might be breaking some social convention to make a point or make a joke) the same wouldn't be true of the written language. I think there you would need words with those variations in meaning, unless you could convey that with some other method, modifiers, perhaps.


          "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

          by Orinoco on Mon Apr 22, 2013 at 07:30:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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