Languages are dying. Which will remain?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Billy T, Sep 4, 2012.

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Languages are dying. Which will remain 2000 years from now??

  1. English

    6 vote(s)
    60.0%
  2. Mandarin

    4 vote(s)
    40.0%
  1. superstring01 Moderator

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    THERE IT IS PEOPLE!!!!

    Bam!

    ~String
     
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  3. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    "Boeing Co. predicted in a recent report that China will need a total of 72,700 new commercial airline pilots and 108,300 maintenance technicians by the year 2030." (In next 18 years. Ref. given in my last post. "recent" is about two weeks ago. I first read it at Bloomberg, not this ref.)

    For me, at least, that is too big a number to get a feel for, so lets go daily: 72,700 / (18x365) = 11+ more pilots every day for 18 years are needed in China! Two pilots can fly the same plane each day so that is a need for 5.5 (6 or more with some in maintaince) new planes each day for 18 years. Many pilots will come from the stagnate USA airline industry, and with their families be learning Mandarin (just a minor example of how China´s huge economic growth drives language learning):
    With three flights per day and 200 passengers per plane, those 11+ pilots will move at least 6,500 MORE Chinese travelers EACH DAY. Of course, the world´s largest rail network of world´s fast trains will move at least 15 times more, each day. So something like 100,000 MORE tourists and businessmen move about China each new day. The business travelers may not stay over night and many tourists will not be needing hotel rooms, but China needs at the very least 2 or 3 thousand new hotel rooms EACH DAY.- Say at least 75 new hotels each month. As I noted earlier, Paris Hilton is rich and no dumb blond. I bet she is twiting daily in China to get the Hilton name well known in China and planning to try to build at least two new hotels per week for the next 18 years too.

    It is really hard to get feel for how fast China is economically growing. I hope this helped, but note also following insert I made in Chinese premier Wen’s opening address to large conference of Asian (and mid-East) nations a couple of days ago.

    “BT insert: A 30.8% annual trade increase is a 97% increase in 2.5 years. Current Asian trade 370billion growing 97% is 728.9billion in Asian trade 30 months from now. US/China trade was 503 billion in 2011 and is not growing. Thus as I have noted, in 30 months, China can have trade growing (by 728.9 - 503 = 226 billion) without exporting anything to the US.** With no dollar trade surplus earned, China will not help finance US´s more than trillion dollar annual deficits by buying US bonds. US deficits will increase even faster than now as US pays off China´s maturing US bonds with “printing press” dollars.”

    I condensed Wen´s five pages down to less than one showing the main Chinese-lead economically important progress in Asian at: http://www.sciforums.com/showthread...uture-issues&p=2976203&viewfull=1#post2976203 but if you want to skim Wen´s speach for yourself see: http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2012-09/03/content_15727475.htm

    *14 years is the average time a US co-pilot sits in his seat before moving over to the Captain´s seat and higher salary, which is very small compared to what China is now offering US co-pilots.

    ** IMHO, China is cleverly preparing for the world´s worst, longest-lasting, depression that will be in both US and EU in less than 30 months. (I predicted this starts with run on the dollar on or before Halloween 2014, about 6 years ago and it seems to be right on that schedule. If it does, that will have large impact on what language starts to get most students.)
     
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Actually we don't call it "Old English" anymore. The rule for determining whether two speech variants can have the same name is that they must be intercomprehensible. This rule can be bent for a dialect continuum (the people in adjoining regions can understand each other, even if the people at the two ends of the continuum cannot) but it's enforced with more rigor temporally than spatially. Today's Greeks can read the original writings of Plato and Aristotle with a little coaching and practice, and in fact are expected to do so in university classes, so we call Plato's language Ancient Greek. But today's Englishmen cannot read Beowulf. So we call that language Anglo-Saxon. With coaching and practice we can read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, so we call that language Middle English, but an Englishman of Chaucer's time would not have understood Beowulf.

    Well this argues for Chinese then. They have the world's oldest continuous civilization.

    China established itself as an empire after a Paradigm Shift: the Iron Age. They brought their iron-based technology, as well as their writing system, their culture and the Buddhism which they in turn got from the Indians, to Korea, Japan, and other nearby peoples.

    The next Paradigm Shift, the Industrial Revolution, didn't do too much for China, although it turned Japan into an economic powerhouse. But the Paradigm Shift we're uncomfortably living through right now, the Electronic Revolution, appears to be a boon for China.

    Paradigm Shifts happen much more quickly than they used to: 7,000 years from the dawn of civilization to the Bronze Age, but less than 3,000 from the Iron Age to the Industrial Revolution, and barely two centuries from that to the Electronic Revolution. So we might expect there to be several more Paradigm Shifts between now and the 41st century. Space travel, anyone? It's hard to predict who will come out on top after the world is turned upside down and shaken so many times.

    That's unlikely. Educated Indians all speak English and use it in business, government and education. There's more "Hinglish" in Hindi than in the Indian dialect of English. Although Hindi is the "dominant" language of India, it has that status only because it's the dialect of the New Delhi region so many government workers speak it as their regional language. This earns it considerable animus from people in the rest of the country. When two Indians from different provinces meet, they speak English to each other, not Hindi.

    Languages take strange turns. The Aramaeans were a minor, powerless subject people in the Babylonian and Assyrian empires. Yet for reasons that I've never seen explained convincingly, Aramaic became both the administrative and vernacular language of the region. The Aramaean people vanished into the Melting Pot thousands of years ago, but their language was the lingua franca of the Middle East right up into the early 20th century. It still has a sizeable community of speakers and there are many websites in Aramaic.

    So to predict which language will come out on top in 2,000 years is a real crapshoot.

    In English we call them the Romance languages: Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French, Occitan, Romansh, Italian, Romanian, and various other tongues which may or may not be merely dialects depending on whom you're talking to, such as Sicilian.

    But after the Industrial Revolution, when printing presses could be driven by motors instead of musclepower, that technology drove the spread of education beyond the upper classes and led to today's effectively-universal literacy. At that point, it became reasonable to print books, newspapers and other documents in local languages.

    The Internet has taken this further. There's a Wikipedia section in Esperanto! I already mentioned the Aramaic websites, and there are also some in Cherokee--which uses its own writing system, a syllabary invented by Chief Sequoia. In the late 19th century in Oklahoma the literacy rate was higher among the Cherokees than the Euro-Americans.

    Sure, but don't discount this Paradigm Shift. The Electronic Revolution is hardly over. You and I probably won't live to see translation software that does as good a job as a human translator, but our younger members may very well do so. This will do wonders for the preservation of the world's many languages, which in turn will do wonders for world culture, as each language can easily express thoughts that might not occur to a speaker of another.

    For example, Chinese has no present/past for verbs, no singular/plural for nouns. They don't seem to feel that those distinctions are important, and you can always say "two dogs" or "I eat yesterday" if it's important. This means that native Chinese speakers think differently from us. After all, as I said earlier, they live in a civilization that has been continuous for more than 3,000 years. Time isn't nearly as important to them as it is to us!

    When Paris Hilton was more prominent, one of our comic strips introduced a character who was Paris Hilton's cousin on the less successful side of her family. Her name was Fresno Travelodge.

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    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
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  7. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    In addition, Latin was not taught to women - so the people raising the children were not reading, writing, or speaking it.

    If we compare women with children learning Mandarin worldwide to women with children learning English worldwide, and project the trend (and the trend of the trend) a few decades, what do we find?

    I doubt that the families of pilots, who currently tend to live in enclaves anyway (flexible location comes with the job), will be learning Putonghua at anything like the rate at which Chinese pilots will be learning the lingua franca of international air travel communication, which is a simplified derivative of English. There are several advantages to English as that kind of semi-pidgin technical communication, among them its flexible word order, lack of gender, simplicity and optionality of inflexion, lack of radio-unfriendly "tones", and absence of structural class distinctions (South Korea's national airline mandated English in the airplane, even for pilot to copilot communication, after losing several airplanes to physics, which does not recognize the need for sociolinguistic deference in emergency situations).

    And as the Chinese do need to expand their airline crews, hotel staff, engineering operations, etc, that much, they are faced with the problem of teaching the Chinese themselves a common language suitable to the endeavor: http://www.liuzhou.co.uk/china/language.htm
    The common written language of China seems a major wild-card factor overlooked here, but there is no universally spoken Chinese language even within China - some derivative of English might have a small but reasonable chance of ending up the common language of China, even as China becomes the dominant economic power of the world.

    This is not to say that the language of the future will not show strong Chinese language family influences. Only that the economic pressures do not so obviously favor the world-wide spread of the current dialect of the Mandarin family now semi-standardized for government communications over part of the Chinese mainland.
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The communist government instituted the universal instruction of Mandarin, and of course all radio and TV broadcasts are in Mandarin--except in Hong Kong/Xianggeng. Now that every Chinese child attends school, they are all learning it. Almost everyone under 30 can understand it reasonably well, and most can express themselves in it even if they speak a regional language at home. In two more generations, when only the most elderly are Mandarin-challenged (and even they will have been exposed to it on TV for many decades), Mandarin will be China's universal language.

    At this point they will be able to solve their biggest language problem: writing. Because Chinese has been a written language for millennia, writing has been a standardizing force on the multitude of mutually unintelligible languages that we Westerners incorrectly refer to as "dialects." Their phonetics have diverged drastically ("five" is wu in Mandarin but ng in Cantonese), but they all use the same words in the same sequence, at least around 99%. This allows them to be united by a common written language, because that writing system uses logograms instead of phonetic symbols.

    But once they all use the same sounds, not just the same words pronounced differently, they'll be able to convert to a phonetic system. In fact one was developed in the last century and it's just waiting for its time to come around. They could have used the Roman alphabet (the pin-yin transcription that we foreigners all learn) but instead they went their own way and developed symbols that look more Chinese--just like the Koreans did with their alphabet, and the Japanese with their kana syllabaries.

    This will not only make Chinese easier to learn for Chinese children (they have to learn 400 han zi by 4th grade, and a college graduate must know 5,000), but also for foreigners.

    Then perhaps we can talk about Chinese becoming the world's universal language. Very few foreigners put in the work to learn the written language today, even those of us who can speak it at the level of a three year-old.

    Mandarin is a language in the Sino-Tibetan language family. Wu, Cantonese and Min also have sizeable communities of speakers, and there are a total of seven to thirteen languages that make up the Chinese branch of Sino-Tibetan, depending on which linguist you ask.

    The Beijing dialect of Mandarin is the national standard for obvious reasons. Some of the other dialects are so different that it's very difficult for a person from Beijing to communicate with one from (for example) Sichuan without several weeks of practice. People from Sichuan who migrate to Beijing or Taiwan actually learn to speak Beijing Mandarin as though it were a foreign language, and they still have a very strong and easily identified accent.

    The other languages of China also have dialects.
     
  9. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Hard to imagine that the women of Rome never spoke. So what language did they speak, if not Latin? Also what is the basis for your amazing statement ("people raising children were not speaking Latin") even in Rome?
     
  10. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    You know much more than I do but more than a decade ago I read (If memory serves) that all the logograms use no more than 7 basic strokes. Consequently Chinese was much more compatible with computers than English. I.e. any logogram could be represented by for example: 1001110 where the initial 1 states the stoke its initial place "holds," for example is a vertical line, and present in that logogram. If that is not what article said (probably not as there could be more than one vertical line I would bet in the same logogram) then an octal instead of binary representation is need. i.e. 0 could be "nothing in this possible place," 1 could be "vertical line in this possible,"... 7 could be "dot in this possible place." then logogram could be (2042651) and very compatable with an octal computer word. Of course this "computer friendly" representation of logograms would still do nothing for telling how to pronounce the logogram.

    Only advantage, I see is that unlike most languages all the logogram "words" all have the same length (seven octal bits). Perhaps that was more appealing to "nerds" back when storage was more costly. I.e. if longest word in a language with 26 different letters has 42 letters, the storage space required for EVERY word is 42 x 26 X 32 bits. (The 32 is from fact that "hexidecimal" is only half big enough - need binary number is 32 bits, for each of the 26 letters)

    Have you heard that Chinese logograms are more "computer friendly" than phonetic symbols? Do you have some comments?

    Written English does a terrible job of recording the sounds we use.*

    * There is old joke about college coach trying to get English professor to not fail his star quarterback. Professor agrees that if player can get even one letter correct when spelling a word, he will delay failure notice until after the big game this weekend. Coach says: "Great. thank you. What is the word? Prof replies: Coffee. Player writes: "Kauphy."
     
  11. superstring01 Moderator

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    Are we still seriously debating the notion that English won't completely dominate the world in the future in favor of Mandarin?

    Huh?

    This entire discussion seems to ignore the fact India--the most populous nation on earth within this decade--has already voted in favor of English. As if the debate is between "the USA and China", which also seems to ignore the fact that the European Union (another gigantic economy) has already voted in favor of English. So, where does that leave us? Mandarin -- in a country that isn't exporting Mandarin and is actually a part of the intensification of English as the global language.

    And, how the hell does anything to do with your (Billy) speculation about the Chinese air-travel market, in any way, compete with EVERY OTHER AIR TRAVEL MARKET ON EARTH. You're literally saying that because, in China they speak Mandarin, that it's somehow going to cause India to adopt (or co-adopt) Mandarin or the EU to adopt Mandarin or the English speaking world to adopt Mandarin. Mandarin isn't even being exported NOW, and right NOW is when they'd have to start if they hope to make any in-roads against Spanish in the Americas or French in Africa or ENGLISH everywhere on earth that isn't already speaking English.

    And, it looks like the verdict is in (well, was in about 4 years ago): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/761307/English-to-become-compulsory-for-pilots.html

    ~String
     
  12. seagypsy Banned Banned

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    Reminds me of how they talk in the show, "Firefly". A mash up of English and Chinese because those are the two cultures that dominate the landscape in the future evisioned by Joss Whedon.
     
  13. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    I agree that English is far ahead now and surely will at least double Latin´s 500 year endurance. In many ways English - language of tiny Island with few people - became globally dominate because of the steam engine, the cotton gin & the power loom, each of which made the other two much more productive and other shipping advances* that let England build and "an economic empire on which the sun never set." England could deliver to any port in the world textiles with less than 1/3 the cost of local production and ruled the world because of these technical advances. Note also that Mahatma Gandhi in some sense understood this and made the spinning wheel his symbol and all his own clothes, starting with Indian grown cotton, but few followed his example so the economically advantaged language (English in this case) took over India. (As history shows it always does. I.e. Farsi-> Greek-> Latin-> dark age in west -> Spanish-> French-> English-> Mandarin?)

    If China becomes the dominate Economic power of the globe for centuries, as England did, I expect their language will dominate too in less than 500 years, especially as there are so many more of them than population of England, when French was the western world´s dominate language, but French economic power was failing (as Spain´s had a few centuries earlier). History seems to suggest that the national language of any country that can dominate global economies for several hundred years, becomes the dominate global language, even if initially (English case) only a very tiny fraction of the global population speaks that language.

    We´re speaking of 2000 years as something like that will be required before only one language is used. History shows which is the dominate language 500 years earlier is NOT of much importance on 2000 year time scale.

    * Especially a clock that remained accurate in the waves so ship´s longitude could be known. (Only latitude can be read from the stars.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2012
  14. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    You might want to reread the post, there, in context - that was kind of the point.

    As pointed out above, they don't have "a language". Speakers of different Chinese languages often communicate, within China, by passing notes to each other. A plausible solution would be for the current spread of English in China to continue, providing the Chinese with a common language well suited for handling the concurrently spreading Western technology.

    One interesting possibility is that they will come to write this Chinese version of English in their current system, already in use for several other otherwise mutually unintelligible languages throughout Asia. As a partial solution to the translation problem, it seems worth checking out.

    That's not fast enough - even without the writing issue. The technology incursion and foreign exposure Billy is talking about is happening now, and the closest thing the Chinese have to a common language capable of handling its demands (written and spoken, domestic and foreign) is English - which is likewise, with the official Mandarin dialect, being exposed to the young and taught all over the country.

    And in the role in China Latin played in Europe for so long, English would have the advantage of being a living language - spoken by mothers to children and children to each other, adaptable to the needs of any region.
     
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    I suppose this could be true--my command of han zi is pretty elementary. Yet even I notice that the "basic strokes" (which are actually combinations of as many as 11 strokes, that's not very accurate terminology) are squashed and stylized to fit in the basic rectangle in which all words must fit. There are something like 175 of these basic components and there can be as many as six of them in one logogram. That would require a minimum of twelve (thirteen?) bits to represent digitally. I can't guess at the number of additional bits necessary to represent their squashing and stylizing, not to mention exactly where they fit in the character. Certainly at least five more bits, maybe seven or eight. So we have a 21-bit identifier to transcribe slightly fewer than 100,000 words. It doesn't seem like much of an improvement.
    This is vastly oversimplified. I'm positive it is not the work of Chinese person.
    There are 1,600 possible syllables in Mandarin phonetics. So add another eleven bits for that?

    You can see why they'd rather wait for the other languages to die out and just convert to a phonetic alphabet.
    Balderdash.
    That's because English (like French, Europe's other major living language throughout history) has never undergone spelling reform. Most of the other European languages threw out their dictionaries in the 19th century and began writing reasonable approximations to the way their words are pronounced.

    In English we still have
    • "Long" A E I pronounced e i ai
    • Silent E's at the end of half of our words
    • "Hard" and "soft" C, G, S and TH
    • GH pronounced seven different ways, including silent
    • Foreign words pronounced according to their original language
    • Many other idiosyncrasies such as reading "tion/tial/tious" as "shun/shal/shus."
    And all we can say in our defense is that French is far worse, with OI read as WA and sometimes more than half the letters in every word silent: aiment is pronounced "em."

    English and French are impossible to read aloud without years of study, and transcribing speech into writing is even harder. Czech and Finnish (to name a couple) are almost perfectly WYSIWYG, and even German and Spanish come close.

    This is not what a worldwide international language needs.
    I spoke to that. The vast majority of Chinese today can understand Mandarin, and well over half of them can speak it--especially working-age people in the cities where they need to communicate.
    I'm not sure what you mean by that. If you mean writing English in logograms, forget it. The phonetics of Chinese are very constrained. It's impossible to render a word from most foreign languages recognizably in Chinese symbols. This is the reason it's almost impossible for Chinese to borrow foreign words. If you've ever seen the awkward Japanese transcription of a foreign name in katakana (Makudonarudo for "McDonalds") you have some idea of what the Chinese face. I remember Ni ki sen for "Nixon."
    They just find English to be a bewilderingly awkward language, utterly primitive compared to Chinese. Why do we still have masculine/feminine, present/past/future, singular/plural, Stone Age paradigms they abandoned thousands of years ago? Why do we have inflections (sing/sang/sung)? Why can we rearrange the words in a sentence without changing the meaning? Why do we have virtually meaningless "noise words" like articles and prepositions?

    Why does it take us ten syllables to communicate what they can render in seven, requiring our language to be spoken quite a bit faster than theirs, making it harder for a student or a foreigner or a worker in a noisy factory or a pedestrian on a busy street to understand? They find our language to be a joke and they have trouble taking it seriously.

    I don't blame them. Compared to Chinese, English is an embarrassing piece of crap.
     
  16. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    And I spoke to that, with a link to a source from the official Chinese government statistics (hardly presumed to be lowballing their achievements) that put a number to that claim - 53% - and a more accurate term for the language - putonghua, the official one of what we are calling "dialects" of the Mandarin collection or whatever (some of these "dialects" being mutually unintelligible).

    Being able to rearrange the words, to shade the meaning and provide emphasis and so forth, is a strength, a virtue, of English. It also provides some flexibility handy for the wide variety of other language speakers approaching it - they can make themselves rudimentarily understood in their own word order. Chinese is deficient in this regard, flawed.

    Masculine/feminine is almost gone from English, available only in a few pronouns and usually replaceable with neutral terms (plural, inanimate), or simple error, without loss of comprehension. English is unusually free in that respect - Chinese only marginally better.

    English has the necessary and almost always relevant present/past/future, and that saves us time, trouble, ambiguity, and confusion in everyday life as well as technical communication. Degraded languages like Chinese must deal in circumlocutions and appeals to context, at unnecessary length and constant risk of misunderstanding.

    English has inflections, true, and Chinese has tones - only inflections are scattered and avoidable and errors do not block comprehension of the rudimentary speaker's meaning: not nearly as much of an obstacle to everyone else on the planet as a tone of voice one must be born amid to even hear properly.

    Your bizarre assertion that prepositions in English are "virtually meaningless" has been blown up four times now, on this forum, using your examples each time. I don't care what your linguistic qualifications are, you can't keep saying that - it's indefensible.

    They need to grow up - maybe find an appreciation of the power and clarity and subtlety available from things like prepositions. I don't find their language to be a rigid, insular, eroded, cartoonish, dropped-silverware sit-com Tarzan bead-strung antheap of homonyms, not because that is an inaccurate description, but because I recognize the virtues that outweigh the defects.

    Meanwhile, regardless of inherent virtues available to the native speaker, we have this to add to the list of obstacles Chinese faces in the big world:
    Meanwhile, English can easily take in thousands more words from all Chinese dialects, making itself at home in yet another country. Yet another reason China would be more likely to continue adapting English piecemeal to China than the rest of the world's peoples would be to adopt any of the several dialects of Mandarin wholesale as their language.
     
  17. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    If you'd ever observed someone trying to input Chinese writing into a computer, you'd know as well as everyone else already does that Chinese languages are massively cumbersome and awkward to deal with in computer interface terms. That stuff just does not fit on a reasonable keyboard.
     
  18. quadraphonics Bloodthirsty Barbarian Valued Senior Member

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    From what I've gathered, there are no such qualifications to speak of.

    More likely, what is needed is some recognition that Fraggle is issuing totally unsupported assertions about Chinese people, en masse, agreeing with his perspective. It looks like so much weasel words to me, in the first place.

    That said, I have encountered a strong degree of linguistic chauvinism amongst Mandarin speakers I've encountered over the years (although it was more directed at Cantonese than English or any other non-Chinese language). But I would not count that as evidence of the functional superiority of Mandarin. Rather, it is simply evidence of the high level of cultural chauvinism exhibited by said speakers.
     
  19. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

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    Honestly what will really happen in the future is the language will mix together, some of them will die off, the original english we speak now will become something like latin language is for us now. Mandarin will not suffer the same fate, it will however incorporate some of the english words in itself.
     
  20. rpenner Fully Wired Staff Member

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    In addition, most common characters for the roughly 1600 mandarin syllables have strong connotations in the Chinese alphabet so the longer the foreign name or term the more likely it will be that the name has to have obscure characters, characters that don't match the desired phonetics or unsavory connotations. "Bite the wax tadpole" was apparently used by some shopkeepers until Coke Cola settled on "kekou kele". http://www.snopes.com/cokelore/tadpole.asp
    And after you did all that, other dialects of Chinese use the same characters with sometimes wildely different pronunciations.
     
  21. Carcano Valued Senior Member

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    Brilliant post...British shipping advances would have to include Harrison's chronometer, enabling ships to determine longitude accurately.

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    This may be one of the reasons english came to dominate in north america as well.
     
  22. superstring01 Moderator

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    Billy. Can you read?

    What don't you get about this. "500 years"??? By 2100 India will have an economy equally the size of China? What language will India influence on the global stage? By 2100 the USA will likely have a population of somewhere between 400 - 500 million people. By 2050 South Africa will have--likely--100 million people, Nigeria will have over 200 million people, Bangladesh & Pakistan will have likely 200 million, Canada will likely have 50 million people, Australia will likely have 35 million people, the EU will likely have 700 million people---what languages do these nations have as official or co-official language? Add them up? Will China so completely dominate the world that it will undue these nation's already intense momentum as well as the global momentum of English? China's population will--out of necessity--shrink to about a billion (or even under that) by 2100!

    England isn't just "England", I keep saying this. The verdict has been made. Every nation on earth that Currently speaks or co-speaks English (well over a billion people) will have to change course and adopt the language of ONE nation; and a nation that isn't exporting it NOW. There are over 20 English speaking nations right now.

    ~String
     
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    As you speak mainly about the great number of English speakers, I have the same question for you.

    My posts mainly pointed out that tiny England with > 100 times lower fraction of the world speaking it language (English) than China has now, back when French was more dominate than English (French had replaced Spanish when Spain´s economy collapsed with the great influx of gold, from S. America, mainly) was able to gain its present global domination because of the great ECONOMIC (not size of population speaking English) advantages the steam engine, the cotton gin and the power loom gave it. With these these and other shipping* technological advances they could deliver textiles to any port in the world with less than 1/3 of the local production cost.

    SUMMARY: ECONOMIC MIGHT, not a large fraction of world speaking your language, if maintained for a few hundred years will** make your language globally dominate EVEN IF YOU HAVE ONLY A TINY FRACTION OF THE WORLD SPEAKING IT when you first pull significantly ahead economically. China clearly looks like (to me who expects US & EU to be in deep long-lasting, "world´s worst" depression in less than 30 months) it will have a huge relative economic advantage AND is starting with 100 fold greater fraction of the world speaking it language (Mandarin) that tiny England had when GREAT ECONOMIC ADVANTAGE made English the current dominate language.

    * Carcano, in post 38 has shown photo of the other very important technical advance made in England, which I mentioned, that permitted English ships to accurately know where they were in longitude. I might add the English understood this technical advance was part of reason for their great economic advantage and I think were able to keep the clock´details secrete for several decades.

    In addition to the clock English sailors had another advantage and to this day are called "Limies" as England discovered how to prevent scurvy during long voyages.

    ** At least it always has during recorded western history:
    ( Farsi-> Greek-> Latin-> dark age in west -> Spanish-> French-> English-> Mandarin?)
     
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