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[DILA] Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 20

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  • dphilfinc
    A society with lots of languages is, I believe, a healthier society. To be more precise, a society that allows for the preservation and development of many
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 26, 2011
      A society with lots of languages is, I believe, a healthier society. To be more precise, a society that allows for the preservation and development of many languages is healthier than one that passively or actively destroys them. Right now the Philippines is in the latter camp, with probably 90% of their indigenous languages at risk of going extinct (or at least moribund) in 100 years. One of the reasons why I think the Philippines should try to preserve its native languages is for DIVERSITY.

      Diversity is the secret weapon to many of the world's ills. To use a biological example, if there are a million species, and a virus targets one species, the other 999,999 are okay. But if you have only one species, and one individual gets hit, all other organisms are at risk. As life has evolved, it has proliferated into myriad species, each of which has potentially unlimited varieties. One can see the variety that permeates all levels by just looking at how different even siblings can be. All of these species meanwhile inhabit a cornucopia of environments, from super hot springs, dark caves, mountain tops, underground tunnels, salty pools, deep-sea vents and inside other organisms. It may be surprising that life finds itself in so many varieties and in so many places, especially given the challenges that have threatened life: asteroid impacts, toxic volcanic provinces, global ice ages, disease, floods, and intense competition. But, it is exactly because of the abundant varieties and niches of life that have allowed it to persist.

      David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and environmental activist, explains eloquently: "And through it all, life has persisted. Its strategy for surviving these apocalyptic and continual changes has been diversity, complexity and unpredictability…. Scientists have finally realized that biodiversity is at the very heart of life's resilience and adaptability. Rigid sameness results in disease and death, as we see everyday, without, perhaps, taking it suitably to heart. Monocultures [are] extremely dangerous because it reduces an organism's resilience when a new parasite, disease, or change in climate occurs."

      The equivalent of disease in terms of language might be a degradation of speech ability, through the excessive use of fill words like "like" and "you know" and "um" (to give examples in English) or "yanni" in Arabic or "ano" in Tagalog. Some language degradation can be accompanied by a decline in written capability too, evinced by the Ancient Mayans who lost their ability to write a few hundred years ago. If one language is embattled by diluting, uncommunicative speech or written decay, at least other languages may be safe. They may have their own fill words or be subject to other erosive social conditions that lead to decreasing literacy, but problems facing one language don't necessarily spread automatically to others. Other forms of viruses could be demeaning words or ideas -- like the cultural significance of the word `nigger' or `fag.' The spreading of such words is not just a spread of the words themselves, but also the general disrespect and low value afforded such groups. If you have multiple languages, each with their associated habits and beliefs, such odious attitudes are less easily spread.

      Homogeneity can rear its head to enormous consequences. Powerful World War II antagonists were able to garner their people's support for outrageously destructive acts, such as the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, the bombing of Hiroshima by the Americans, the systematic killing of Jews, gypsies, gays, and the disabled by the Germans, etc. To legitimize their nefarious actions, these countries emphasized their populace's sameness, versus their enemies' differences. If each country accommodated a wide variety of languages and cultures, it would be much harder for governments to paint other countries, similarly diverse and difficult to stereotype, to be inferior. Secondly, since their populations would be accustomed to variety within their own borders, they would not feel as threatened by differences, real or imagined, of other countries. Diversity is a shield against the manipulations of politicians and strategists who, in the name of patriotism and unity, commit people to acts that are often not beneficial to them or the world.

      From the first bacterium to trillions of organisms alive today, life has become ever more diverse and numerous. And it is more resilient as a result. Meanwhile, humans are marching in the opposite direction, towards fragile sameness. Protect Philippine languages and protect one of our most empowering characteristics: diversity.

      [DILA] Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 20
    • Merlie Alunan
      I have thought of this a long time ago when I began my advocacy of encouraging young people who want to write to write in their native language. Working in the
      Message 2 of 3 , Jan 27, 2011
        I have thought of this a long time ago when I began my advocacy of encouraging young people who want to write to write in their native language. Working in the classroom, I have noticed more and more our lack of interest in speaking properly, with fluency, respect for the niceties of language, a striving for elegance. Media has a large share in this, but also our schools which are propagating the odious usage of language of Filipino. I believe we have become a nation who speak no language of any quality, not the languages we have  been borrowing, nor our own.

        Unfortunately, like everything else in this country, we are so caught up in the politics we anything we engage in in our civil life, we have no time to think of anything. This quarrel over language involves the politics of power. This goes for many other things in our cultural life. Within the NCCA for instance, there is a struggle to maintain power and control within a central domain, bringing the peripheries further and further away from that center. Whose priorities are served? Certainly not those of the people who have been kept in the dark most of the time about their rights and what they can do with it within the bounds of their own circumstances.

        Salamat Firth McEachern sa imong hapsay nga pagpahiluna sa mga panghunahuna nga makapabukhad sa atong pagtan-aw bahin sa linguistic diversity sa Pilipinas.

        Merlie Alunan

        --- On Wed, 26/1/11, dphilfinc <bcyp@...> wrote:

        From: dphilfinc <bcyp@...>
        Subject: [DILA] Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 20
        To: DILA@yahoogroups.com
        Received: Wednesday, 26 January, 2011, 11:34 PM

         

        A society with lots of languages is, I believe, a healthier society. To be more precise, a society that allows for the preservation and development of many languages is healthier than one that passively or actively destroys them. Right now the Philippines is in the latter camp, with probably 90% of their indigenous languages at risk of going extinct (or at least moribund) in 100 years. One of the reasons why I think the Philippines should try to preserve its native languages is for DIVERSITY.

        Diversity is the secret weapon to many of the world's ills. To use a biological example, if there are a million species, and a virus targets one species, the other 999,999 are okay. But if you have only one species, and one individual gets hit, all other organisms are at risk. As life has evolved, it has proliferated into myriad species, each of which has potentially unlimited varieties. One can see the variety that permeates all levels by just looking at how different even siblings can be. All of these species meanwhile inhabit a cornucopia of environments, from super hot springs, dark caves, mountain tops, underground tunnels, salty pools, deep-sea vents and inside other organisms. It may be surprising that life finds itself in so many varieties and in so many places, especially given the challenges that have threatened life: asteroid impacts, toxic volcanic provinces, global ice ages, disease, floods, and intense competition. But, it is exactly because of the abundant varieties and niches of life that have allowed it to persist.

        David Suzuki, a Canadian scientist and environmental activist, explains eloquently: "And through it all, life has persisted. Its strategy for surviving these apocalyptic and continual changes has been diversity, complexity and unpredictability…. Scientists have finally realized that biodiversity is at the very heart of life's resilience and adaptability. Rigid sameness results in disease and death, as we see everyday, without, perhaps, taking it suitably to heart. Monocultures [are] extremely dangerous because it reduces an organism's resilience when a new parasite, disease, or change in climate occurs."

        The equivalent of disease in terms of language might be a degradation of speech ability, through the excessive use of fill words like "like" and "you know" and "um" (to give examples in English) or "yanni" in Arabic or "ano" in Tagalog. Some language degradation can be accompanied by a decline in written capability too, evinced by the Ancient Mayans who lost their ability to write a few hundred years ago. If one language is embattled by diluting, uncommunicative speech or written decay, at least other languages may be safe. They may have their own fill words or be subject to other erosive social conditions that lead to decreasing literacy, but problems facing one language don't necessarily spread automatically to others. Other forms of viruses could be demeaning words or ideas -- like the cultural significance of the word `nigger' or `fag.' The spreading of such words is not just a spread of the words themselves, but also the general disrespect and low value afforded such groups. If you have multiple languages, each with their associated habits and beliefs, such odious attitudes are less easily spread.

        Homogeneity can rear its head to enormous consequences. Powerful World War II antagonists were able to garner their people's support for outrageously destructive acts, such as the invasion of Manchuria by the Japanese, the bombing of Hiroshima by the Americans, the systematic killing of Jews, gypsies, gays, and the disabled by the Germans, etc. To legitimize their nefarious actions, these countries emphasized their populace's sameness, versus their enemies' differences. If each country accommodated a wide variety of languages and cultures, it would be much harder for governments to paint other countries, similarly diverse and difficult to stereotype, to be inferior. Secondly, since their populations would be accustomed to variety within their own borders, they would not feel as threatened by differences, real or imagined, of other countries. Diversity is a shield against the manipulations of politicians and strategists who, in the name of patriotism and unity, commit people to acts that are often not beneficial to them or the world.

        From the first bacterium to trillions of organisms alive today, life has become ever more diverse and numerous. And it is more resilient as a result. Meanwhile, humans are marching in the opposite direction, towards fragile sameness. Protect Philippine languages and protect one of our most empowering characteristics: diversity.

        [DILA] Firth McEachern - Diversity Shock, Part 20


         
      • DILA-owner@yahoogroups.com
        ... Thank you, Firth McEachern, for your well-ordered presentation of the ideas that can open up our perspective on Philippine language diversity.
        Message 3 of 3 , Feb 11, 2011
          --- Merlie Alunan wrote in Cebuano:
          > Salamat Firth McEachern sa imong hapsay nga pagpahiluna sa mga panghunahuna nga makapabukhad sa atong pagtan-aw bahin sa linguistic diversity sa Pilipinas.

          Thank you, Firth McEachern, for your well-ordered presentation of the ideas that can open up our perspective on Philippine language diversity.
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