The language of the U.S.

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by science man, May 31, 2010.

  1. I know I brought this up once before but I thought about it again and still don't understand why things turned out to be the way they are. That is, if Christoper Columbus (who's Italian) discovered America, then why are we all speaking English instead of Italian? I know you guys said that it's because of the British colonies that were created, but that's not fair to Italy. Why would they (Italy) let that happen? I feel like going to the prime minister of Italy myself and asking him why his country let that happen.
     
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  3. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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  5. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    Actually how about going to the leaders of the native American tribes that were already here and asking them how they could allow this to happen?:shrug:
     
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  7. Are they still alive? btw I realized that Christoper Columbus discovered the whole West side of the world so actually both North and South America should be speaking Italian.
     
  8. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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  9. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

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    Wow. You got Captain Picard facepalmed. Then Picard AND Number One.

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  10. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Yes they are still alive, there are aboriginals today!
     
  11. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

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    That was terrible Shogun.

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  12. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    >but that's not fair to Italy

    This was your first mistake... History isn't fair, and fairness in this case is irrelevant anyway, thus the facepalm....
     
  13. skaught The field its covered in blood Valued Senior Member

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    I mean what, were the British settlers supposed to just come over and be like "Well, I guess an Italian discovered this land first so we should all learn to speak Italian..."

    Again

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  14. Omega133 Aus der Dunkelheit Valued Senior Member

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    :facepalm: There's my contribution to the facepalmness.
     
  15. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Life is not fair, the victor gets to decide those things and Britain was the victor, thus....

    And to add to that...

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  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Huh??? There are millions of Indians or "Native Americans" living today. Several of the Indian nations have maintained a strong tribal structure, such as the Cherokee, Navajo and Hopi.
    Christopher Columbus "discovered" only Hispaniola, the large island on which Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located. He knew nothing of the continents of North and South America. Other explorers came later to "discover" the other parts of the New World. Of course they had already been "discovered" 15,000 years earlier by the Paleo-Indians.

    Moreover, Columbus was working in the service of the King of Spain so the results of his work belonged to Spain.

    Moreover, there was no such country as "Italy" at that time. Each little region was a separate kingdom. Columbus was from Genoa, so he was Genoese, not Italian.
     
  17. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    Columbus didn't discover North America. The vikings first discovered North America. I believe the proper term for the natives are the aboriginals.
     
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The Paleoindians discovered North America 15KYA. They were the first humans to set foot in the Western Hemisphere.
    Americans tend to avoid using that word outside the offices of the Anthropology Department. It's taken on a bad cachet. The politically correct term for the people who lived here before the Christian armies arrived is "Native Americans." However, many of them actually dislike that term. They point out that I am a "native American," with a lower-case N, because I was born in Chicago. Those people prefer the name "Indian" and don't care about all the ambiguity and other baggage.

    The Smithsonian hall for their exhibits is "The National Museum of the American Indian."
     
  19. Shogun Bleed White and Blue! Valued Senior Member

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    The first was I believe the Clovis people.

    I didn't know that, in Canada the term is either Aboriginals or Native Americans.
     
  20. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

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    Hehe, it is utterly irrelevant who the first people were. What important is who the LAST are...
     
  21. John99 Banned Banned

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    I suppose there were a few options. One stuck and that was English. Realistically it could have also been Dutch before it would be Italian and was also a popular language. I think that English is easier though and in song may sound better, for some reason. Or is that some psychological thing?
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2010
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    There are no "options." Nations don't always choose an "official" language. They just conduct their affairs in the language of the group in power, or, with rare exceptions, the majority population.

    Of course the exceptions are astounding.
    • The Aramaeans vanished and were absorbed into the Assyrian-Babylonian people, but their language continued to be the lingua franca of the Middle East for nearly 3,000 years, through the rise and fall of many empires, right up into the early 20th century.
    • The Normans invaded England in 1066CE, overthrew the government and made French the national language. Yet within 300 years they had intermarried with the native population and begun speaking English. This would be equivalent to the Spaniards adopting the languages of the Aztec and Inca so that they would now be the official languages of Mexico and Peru.
    Some nations do adopt official languages, but it's usually for the purpose of elevating two or more to that status, in order to maintain harmony among diverse ethnic groups. French, German and Italian are all official languages in Switzerland, French and Flemish (the politically correct but linguistically incorrect name for the Belgian dialect of Dutch) have that status in Belgium, and in the former nation of Czechoslovakia both Czech and Slovak were official.
    English is not easy for everyone. It has one of the largest sets of phonemes (individual sounds) of all languages, making it difficult for many people to distinguish between two similar words (e.g. bit/beat, there/dare, Aleutian/allusion), and the way we cram phonemes together almost arbitrarily makes many words difficult for them to pronounce (e.g. squirrel, tasks). Our prepositions often carry almost no meaning at all, yet the rigid rules for their use seem designed for no purpose other than the easy identification of foreign speakers. (I always ask English speakers to explain the difference between "on time" and "in time" and so far only one has managed to do it.)

    English is relatively easy for speakers of Chinese, which shares our subject-verb-object syntax and has no inflections for masculine/feminine, present/past/future, singular/plural, etc. But it's very difficult for speakers of Japanese, which has a topic-description syntax and inflects verbs for the difference in social class between the speaker and the person spoken to--and in which two consonants can never be adjacent (except N). It's easy for speakers of French, which shares half of our vocabulary and most of our phonemes, but hard for speakers of Russian, which has only seven vowels and is not dominated by French, Latin and Greek words. It's very difficult for the Hopi, who have a lot of trouble grasping our concept of time.
    That's just personal and/or cultural preference. Every language's songs have their charms.
     
  23. John99 Banned Banned

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    Interesting.

    "on time" and "in time"

    on time is arriving before with some time to spare and in time is just getting someplace or doing something right on time.

    Not for me. I think that English is a very neutral language. It is weird because for some reason accents are undetectable when the words are sung. I am not British so it isnt like i am biased, just my observations.
     

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