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Re: [OT] The stigma of schemas

 Peter Flynn wrote:
> It takes time for a language to absorb new
> material. US English speakers still talk about
> the cut of meat as a "fee-lay" when British
> English speakers have said "fill-it" for over
> a century.

I suspect that this is due to the much larger per centage of Francophones in the USA, hence the "respect shown the original language" (a very important recent reminder from Uche Ogbuji on this thread).

As a cheeky Yank, i have always though the English deliberately mis-pronounced "foreign" languages as an expression of imperialism (true of most languages to one extent or another, yes?).

Because the USA is such a mutt of a nation, it seems that we are more likely to have contact with the original pronunciation, and use a reasonable facsimile thereof. Even us cowboys in Wyoming say GRO-vawnt for "Gros Ventre" (named by les trappeurs Quebecois). Otoh, the nearby town named "Dubois" is pronounced "DOO-boyz" instead of "duBWA" -- go figure!

> These are the linguistic differences we can
> enjoy and allow to persist, as they cause no
> harm to anyone and enrich the language.
> Differences which merely act as barriers to
> comprehension or acceptance, however, have no
> place in the discussion of our technology.

Hear, hear! I enjoy being separated by a common language from friends and employer. Differences in dialect help remind us of cultural differences, whilst still allowing communication, the raison d'etre of language. <Pomposity:->Besides, the i18n of le monde will continue to change lingua, y escrito o hablado will certainly zur Sprachkommen.</Pomposity:->

> I would actually argue that the computer
> revolution is precisely *not* heading towards
> Newspeak, as its constant invention of new
> words and shades of meaning is enriching our
> language rather than stultifying it.

I can only agree with this in a narrow sense. Just because we have added a wonderful new specialized lexicon of many words, doesn't mean that the language as a whole has been enriched. How many early adopters of PCs wish they had never learned the word "DOS"?

The conformity of Newspeak applies only to language, but the conformity of Alt-F-X (or red=bad, green=good) transcends the spoken and the written, and attacks even inate physical gestures and deep-seated cultural meaning. Not everyone in this world bases their thinking on dualities, nor expresses binary values in the same way. People nod their heads both ways for yes (or no), the same color can have completely opposite meanings in different cultures, and so on.

We can move beyond the WIMP user interface to more varied forms of interaction, forms that can be radically from each other, while still expressing the same concepts ("make a photo from a digitized image", "place a phone call", etc.). Ironically, the core of such a diverse system could easily be text-based, with a front-end processor translating different gestures, text, speech, or whatever into a common command syntax. XML anyone?

> In this case I think preserving an irregular
> plural just to show we know where the word
> came from is not useful.

Agreed -- i say "schemas", you say "schemata", can't we just call this little thing off?

But let's still have at some of those other, more subtle, and more insidious, examples of cultural bias and arrogance.

 Nik O

P.S. The lack of diacritics is an intentionally provocative reminder that much of the Net still remains based upon text/plain ASCII, alas.

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