Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

the language issue at ET: a dissenting view

by whataboutbob Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:21:07 AM EST

Update: I think the sage advice of our community (thank you afew, DoDo, and others) that it is perhaps best to let this topic lay for now, and take a cooling down break is wise (myself included). Thank you all for your excellent contributions on this topic. Peace - whataboutbob

There has been an ongoing discussion in various threads for awhile now about whether or how to become a multi-lingual blog here at European Tribune. The other day there was our first (as far as I know) non-English diary, written and commented on in French, and apparently well recieved. But it left me feeling very uncomfortable...and yes, I will admit it, upset...that a converstaion is going on that I don't understand and don't feel included in. So this has been cooking in me...and I responded in last night's open thread about this...and finally, I'm just saying "screw it, I don't agree with this new direction" and will say why. I've cut and pasted my response in that thread below:


I've been thinking about this a lot...and I'm just expressing my own opinions here, not that of the European Tribune or the other people who administer it. But as I said above, I think the European Tribune will be making a big mistake to try to be all things for all people. Ain't gonna happen. I believe it will only weaken as a community if it tries. And I personally even feel more strongly now that ET should pick a common language and stick with it...which ever language...if that's another language than English, so be it. But my feeling is that if there begins to be several discussions in several languages, what's the connection? Where's the communication between people? Where's the community? I have a strong feeling the result will be a breaking down and a dilution of the community feel. There's a parallel process to the EU process...the National vs the Pan-European. And I personally don't feel comfortable with conversations going on where I don't understand the discussion...it feels excluding and exclusive. (And I have a hard enough time with understanding a number of the converstations going on here in English, due to the technical or highly specific intellectual content).

I recall when Daily Kos started getting bigger, and many people started spinning off new blogs, because either they felt Dkos was too big, or there was disagreement with the direction, etc. But ultimately it was a good thing, as there are many more and excellent spin off blogs in the US as a result, where a person of a left persuasion can find their niche, and where their are ore voives. Perhaps we are getting to that point in our evolution here...I think if a person wants to have a Spanish, or a Greek , or a German, or a Dutch European Tribune (etc), they should go for it, we can link to them here, and we can expand our community in that way. Really...The more voices the better.

But frankly speaking, I originally came here because of Jerome, who writes in English, who is quite positive and supportive of Americans and left American politics (though not Bush, thank gawd), and who was (and is) supported by an American in getting ET running. And since I moved to Europe, the community that has developed and the information that is shared has been integral in my integration into Europe. I have felt super included, welcomed and informed. (So perhaps I have developed an emotional attachment to the community and the process here...is that good or bad?).

And to me, the European Tribune has a brand, and part of that brand is that it discusses European and international issues in the chosen common language: English. Heck, we are...even now...on the Koufax Lefty Blog Awards nomination list for "Best New Blog", which I believe is and will bring in more traffic (yes, English speakers...). To start now changing it now...my feeling...would be a mistake, and even potentially destructive of all the energy that has thus far gone into developing it. AND...I see ET growing quite nicely, as it is...and fully expect it to continue to.

But, hey, we are all here of our free will, and we can always try to influence the community in ways we see fit, or go find/start another community that fits better.

Anyway, as I said, these are just my feelings, no one elses...but I don't agree with the trying to be multi-lingual here, as I believe it leads us off the path.

Agree with me, disagree we me, flame me...whatever...this is how I'm feeling. Und du?

Display:
And I will admit it...per Chris's excellent diary...European Tribune has been and is a virtual "3rd Place" for me...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:22:49 AM EST
My husband and I posted comments in Dutch on that thread to make the same point, that posting comments/diaries/whatever in languages that may not be understood by everyone is exclusionary.

I've corresponded with Americans who come here to learn about European politics.  Sure, it's fun to see if you remember your high school French, German, whatever, but how can you learn anything if you only have a rudimentary knowlege - or none at all - of a language in which a diary is posted?

Not everyone speaks 5 or 6 languages.  And that thread was especially annoying because it became one-upmanship regarding who could speak/write the most languages.

What's wrong with making something understandable by everyone?

by Plutonium Page (page dot vlinders at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:08:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Who is everyone?

Do you realize in Slovakia English ranks 4th on the list of foreign languages people are confident in? Or how hard it is to get, say, the Spanish (just to mention a large nationality with pathetically low knowledge of foreign languages) to stop staring at their own navels?

Then again, even Cafe Babel's discussion forums are only in English.

I suppose we should just admit that the European elites all read and write English passably and get on with it.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:15:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What.  The.  Fuck.  Is.  Your. Problem.  With.  Me?

Fuck you, end of story.

You've successfully driven an Evil American™ away from Your Site™.

Happy now?

You fucking ASSHOLE.

by Plutonium Page (page dot vlinders at gmail dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:38:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm out of here and this is final.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:42:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's unfortunate: PP is completely out of line here. I really don't see how she managed to take offence at that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:04:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:15:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Me too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree that PP's comments were totally out of line.
Do you realize in Slovakia English ranks 4th on the list of foreign languages people are confident in? Or how hard it is to get, say, the Spanish (just to mention a large nationality with pathetically low knowledge of foreign languages) to stop staring at their own navels?
I don't know if PP is American or not, but I think if he/she is, Migeru's comment could easily be viewed as a demeaning and patronising--I mean what kind of an idiot would you have to be to not understand that English is not commonly known in Slovakia, or many countries for that example.

but IMHO the better course of action is to just not respond,,,,rather than doing a total blow-up.

by wchurchill on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:52:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't see a reason for that. You could from now on just not reply to PP's comments as a precaution.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:07:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is exactly the problem. I don't want to have to watch whose comments I read or reply to. The list of people I would need to avoid for the sake of our mutual cardiovascular health grows apace.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That can not be true...growing apace?

and beside you can always remember all the list :) You really can watch out who are you talking to. We all do that.. My boss is always different than my family.:)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:40:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Growing apace"

If the curve's exponential your heart's in trouble ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:07:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's superexponential. It blows up and resets with a periodicity of about 1 month.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:11:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I appreciate 99,9% of your posts, and I wouldn't want to lose them just because I may not feel good about the form of the 0,1% directed at me.



When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:02:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for restating that, because it gives me the chance to retort (like I refrained from doing last night) that what you wrote reads thusly: I direct 0.1% of my comments at you, and you "may" not feel good about the totality of those.

You unintentionally got the form of your comment about my form wrong.

So, since you ask, I do feel inclined to avoid you, among other things because you have made it rather clear in the past that the style and content of my diaries does not appeal to you and you would like to see less of it on ET. And if you deny this I'll be forced to dig up your comments and it will get rather unpleasant, so please don't.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru, this was passable (tough slightly paranoid) until the last sentence. The discussion and Agnes's opinions of you have progressed since those lines you would want to quote.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Her partner in crime in those "old comments that she's progressed from" did vandalize my latest attempt at an EU Review thread, which I decided to delete.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:02:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not understand a single word of that...

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:13:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what, DoDo, I agree this deserves a warning but I am honestly beginning to feel harassed.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I like all of Migeru's comments, and I also like all of Agnès' comments ... you both must keep on posting just like you used to! We are who we are, and no one can change that.
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:05:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think that's fair. Perhaps being circumspect when it was becoming clear she was taking things the wrong way would be appropriate but there was no opportunity at all to do so in this case. When it comes down to it, Page is an experienced poster - a front pager on dKos and other places - and should know better.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:49:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is unnecessary reactionary.

Walk out, but only to cool your head and realise the problem here does not lie with you. Then, come back in.

by Nomad on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Taking my lunch break...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:25:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When you want to follow up a comment in English, I see you know how to do it. Congratulations.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:00:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There. is. no. fucking. problem. with. you. that. you. don't. fucking. bring. with. you.

I see absolutely no reason for you to react with personal abuse like that to Migeru who has been a valuable contributor here, if occasionally a bit more acerbic than is safe in a written forum.

In this case you are completely out of line: he wrote nothing that you could construe as an insult or offensive without trying really hard. I mean, I suppose if I concentrated I could figure out a way that (say) being nasty about the insularity of many Spaniards was anti-americanism. I just can't be bothered working that hard.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:02:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Colman, if my recollection is correct, Migeru mentioned once that he had offended Page. Once someone has offended you, well you tend to be a little more sensitive than the usual reader, I can tell this form past experience, and it takes effort not to strike "back" when there was actually no intention to harm in the first place. It is my understanding of what just happened.

The problem is that we tend to write on line as though we were speaking, and sometimes not take the time to think over what we wrote before posting it. I am trying to use the wise advice provided by both Jérôme and Alex, and that even does not work all the time....

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:09:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I understand that. Her reaction is still completely out of line.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:15:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We don't write online as if we were speaking, Agnes. We write online. We are not physically present together, we don't have the visual and social cues available, and we go over the top more easily than we would face-to-face.

That said, Plutonium Page has lots of experience and didn't need to go bananas. Whatever past disagreements there may have been.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:22:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, so I am the one missing the point right now. I was just trying to help cooling things off, but I guess I'll get back to my diaries.:-) BTW, what d'you think of the idea of diary I suggested, afew ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:28:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I got involved replying to another comment below, or I would already have answered: good idea, I'm looking forward to seeing it!

(Expect a lot of participation because, among EuroTribbers, I think that the experience of cross-cultural divides is perhaps the biggest common denominator -- and possible cause of jumpiness?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
from my (very) recent experience, a lot of participation is the best reward I can get when writing a diary!

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:04:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it what matters most?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:06:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactement !

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:17:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I completely agree.  I'm not going to zero- or one-rate it.  Plenty of people seem to have done so, already.  But, Page, that was a ridiculous outburst.  You apparently forget that you're not the only American here.  I didn't see anything resembling anti-Americanism in Migeru's comment.  I understand being sensitive to anti-Americanism.  Everyone in America's Reality-based Community suffers because of the idiotic acts of the Bushies.  But that really has nothing to do with what he said.

No one has referred to Americans as evil.   Had anyone done so, I'd be the first to demand an apology.  Migeru has called out the Bushies a great deal -- that's it -- and there is nothing wrong with that.  He has been completely respectful of my views.  If anything, you should take advantage of being able to speak with our friends in Europe and demonstrate that we're not a bunch of religious whackjobs, because I think it helps to calm everyone across the Atlantic down and let them know that we're fighting the sociopaths who have taken over the White House -- and that we're finally winning, if the polls are to be believed (and, statistically, I think they are).

I think you're looking for anti-Americanism to such a degree that you're bordering on paranoia.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:03:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Drew, it's a bit more complicated: Page is an expat, she lives in the Netherlands, her fears are possibly also of not being accepted as an European, to always stay an American in (some) local's eyes.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:34:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's fair.  I've never experienced that sort of isolation, so I can't criticize that feeling.  But I maintain that it does not excuse such an attack.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
PP, in all three cases you had a run-in with Migeru, you misunderstood him. There is no accusation of you being 'Evil American' in pointing out that a lot of Europeans don't speak English.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a large nationality with pathetically low knowledge of foreign languages
could also have targeted the French (everybody knows how inefficient the language courses at high school are), yet Alex and Jérôme did not feel offended and they were right. As for me, I am French only when I feel it convenient... :-) otherwise I shift to my other nationality.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:15:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, at last an on-topic comment on my diary!!! Please write in French and post on said diary ASAP!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think I even mentioned in your diary that we French suck in French itself. I could generalize that the newer generation is good at writing in shorthand used in SMS messages, but doesn't seem so good at writing full French. Generally anyhow.

Hell the other day I was visiting the boyfriend of a friend's daughter. The guy is at university, he's 19. He's the 2nd or 3rd best student in the entire biology branch that he's in (a very talented student in biology basically). I was over at his place fixing his internet connection (which is a basic thing well under our talent that we programmers always end up doing for friends, just like a surgeon always gets asked for an opinion on a friend's runny nose).

When I got his connection back, he rushed on to eBay to see if there were any new video games to buy. As I was there, and we were chatting, I saw him write a question to an eBayer. He wrote it in short SMS!! Holy hell! So I told him "awww come on, why are you doing that? don't tell me it's about speed, I mean I bet I can type in full proper French with accents much faster than you can type in SMS-style ... so why do you do that?". He then admitted to me that sometimes he even wrote to his biology teachers in that SMS-style language, and that though his teachers disliked it and had told him so, being a good student meant his teachers just went along with it. He said he couldn't help it.

I'm telling you, it's becoming a major problem. A lot of online forums in French are beginning to be populated with SMS-style comments.

I don't know the equivalent in English, but I'm sure the same problem exists everywhere that mobile phones exist. I suppose an approximation would be: "Hw r u? c u 2nite?"

By the way, I don't like mobile phones, have I ever mentiond this before? I hope they manage to prove once and for all that these bloody microwaves cook your brain ("they" meaning: not the industry itself, which only ever "proves" the contrary).

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:23:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Alex, indeed there is a now recognised version of English called TXT. As a sub-set of standard English it fits easily in the global context of the varieties of English. Indian English for example is particularly florid. Mostly the variations are where it bumps up against other languages and adopts or adapts words (Thus there seems to be a Afrikaans origin to the use of "robot" as a term for a traffic light. This is even more apparent in the use of the abbreviation "brai" for a barbeque.)  

Neither is it particularly new in French surely, I remember a trip to Paris about 10 years ago when it took me ages to finally realise why all the video shops had "K7" The  Oxford English Dictionary has an interesting article on the French variations used in SMS messaging.  

by Londonbear on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:40:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Robot" is not necessarily Afrikaans, but it is the South African term for a traffic light.  I was totally unaware that it was used anywhere else.  How interesting.  Its spread, I'd guess, is related to the large groups of SAfrican expats that have colonized parts of the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand in the last 10-12 years.

The "real" spelling of braai is, well, braai.  So even that has been SMS-ized.

Fascinating.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:29:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry in the haste of writing the last post I failed tomention that I was referring to the Southern African variant of English (I have used in Zim and Zambia) I partly know about it as my sister lives in SA. I think it may also be the New Zealand term. My spelling of braai was just bad and I was not even going to attempt the full Afrikaans word (braaiflaise??)
by Londonbear on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 11:02:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Braaivleis!  But it is pronounced just like you said.  In the five years I lived there, though, I rarely heard anyone actually use that word; they're pretty much just braais nowadays.

I've never heard robot used anywhere else, but I've never been to NZ.  Most of the SAfricanisms I know of are pretty limited to SA and maybe Namibia -- like a bakkie would just be a pickup truck in Zim.  

My favorite was always the way they use the word now, in that it doesn't actually mean now.  If I say, I'll do it now, it means I'll do it later.  Just now is still later, but a little sooner than now.  And now now means the soonest of all, but still probably not right now as we'd understand it.

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 11:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
will do it as soon as work load at the office permits... Am travelling today but will try. How could I possibly say No to you, afew ;-)

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:32:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Agnes. If you have time...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:37:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet you just made it personal. I think I saw an earlier spat with you and Migeru, but this is absolutely uncalled for.

Migeru is a debater and he does that often without the niceties. He brings the point he wants to bring and leaves; he doesn't target people specifically to do that, he does it with everyone on this forum. If you can't accept that of him and take affront whenever he counters, do not engage. Nationality, gender, or personal feelings did not enter this story before your offensive post.

A 1 for that.

by Nomad on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:53:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In PlutoniumPage's defense, and echoing AgnesaParis's good point, if there have been prior run-ins with someone, one may feel twitchier - and the other person is better advised to be more circumspect or awoid replying.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:01:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I hate to cross over from private e-mails but I had received assurances from Jerome that the damage from the previous spat had been mended. Or at least that's how I understood it.

If I remember correctly, I troll-rated myself out of embarrassment last time. DoDo put it very politely when he said "a subthread has been hidded by agreement from both sides" even though there had been no attempt by the radioactive transuranid lady to bridge the gap or reduce tension or even try to understand whether there was any substance to what I said.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:32:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is possible that she has not even visited that thread (the Godwyn's Law issue) after leaving hurt, and hasn't seen what happened - thus the misunderstandings built up. (I have seen parts of that discussion which you haven't, and they reinforce this view.) As for spat having been mended - whatever his protests, Jérôme is a good diplomat, but I think a spat is truly mended if there was direct communication between the parties.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:39:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a spat is fully mended only if both parties communicate directly ; that's what I tried to do every time I had a spat with s.one on ET. Yet it is also good to be able to rely on a mediator at some points.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:29:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And you're right of course. So in this case, PP was more sensitive and Migeru should be more sensitive to PP being more sensitive... But that's not enough to excuse the post.

Anyway. Can't we all just get along?

by Nomad on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:41:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Twitchy is one thing. Full on personal attacks and ranting is another.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:46:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Page, this is way out of line. Migeru's comment did not deserve such an outburst.

Look, there are no absolute answers here, and very real questions. Bob, and Frank below made the points (both absolutely valid) that using several languages can lead to feelings of exclusion, and/or to the fractioning of the site. Others (including Migeru above) have pointed out that using English alone de facto excludes other subsets of people - including a lot of Europeans. They are EACH right.

Would you please reconsider your comment?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:13:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome, please do me a favour and disabuse people of the notion that this is my site because that's what everyone says when they get angry at me: that I'm driving them out of my site.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:34:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I can confirm that if that site belongs to anyone, it is to me and Booman as we have ultimate editorial control and control of the site address.

But the idea is also to have an open site where everybody can participate and be a full member of the community, and I try to participate as much as possible according to the rules applying to all, or at least to the front pagers (all 10 of us)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:47:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
...a group to which I do not belong either.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:54:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's just this guy, you know?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am glad it is not that final

Re: I give up (none / 0)
I'm out of here and this is final.
by Migeru (miguel at math dot ucr dot edu) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:42:42 AM PDT

welcome back

P.S hope to be able to welcome back PP as well. I have read you, PP, for over four years now, and would really not like to miss your contribution.

by PeWi on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:59:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm seriously considering using a different account, though.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:59:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cool. A game of "find the Migeru".
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:02:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, this place is complicated enough as it is.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:19:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's the guy that's all over the place. ;)

Especially if this forum adopts to a more-langual format, his new cover will be blown within 2 minutes.

by Nomad on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:31:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'm disappointed that you threw in some Dutch with the intent to be exclusionary. Do you think I felt excluded by the Arabic subthread? I thought it was brilliant and, honestly, if you wanted to reach out to the south side of the Mediterranean you'd have to do it in French. Plus, you obviously didn't notice Marek asking whether there were any Polish-speaking lurkers around.

The multi-lingual thread was inclusive, not exclusive, and one person who had never posted before did so, if only to say quite graciously that he did not speak French, but Russian.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:42:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Page, did you follow the discussions here on whether or not it was useful to try diaries in other European languages? My intention, as I say below, was to give it a try. Since it was a first time, people were tempted to play around and show off. I took yours and Frank's comments for part of that spirit.

Now you say you were making a point. The point would have been better made in English -- yes, in English which was explicitly "allowed" in the diary. Others who posted comments in other languages than French and English took the time to explain and discuss. If your point was so important, why didn't you do the same?

Instead of making a positive contribution to the discussion (goes a long way back) on this here at ET, you seem to me to have been fairly exclusive yourselves. Just my opinion.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:51:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What you did was appear to be engaging in the fun and games about different languages. Well done.

What's wrong with making something understandable by everyone?

Not everyone speaks or read English.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:56:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it became one-upmanship regarding who could speak/write the most languages

I don't remember who was the first person to write a comment in another language than French on that thread, but I remember for sure that that comment was in Dutch.

About flexing muscles and such, my friends and I fight (verbally) every day to see who's better. It's mainly a male thing, I think. But we enjoy our little fights. We've come to the conclusion that when we're 80 years old, and in a wheelchair, we'll still race down the halls to the retirement home's cafeteria.

However, regarding the thread you mention, I wasn't even fighting. I recall having made one silly comment in Dutch in response to either you or your husband, asking where the nearest coffee shop was, after using a translation application as I don't know any Dutch at all. It was meant as a joke, not as a muscle-flexing bout.

And I also recall having tried to decipher the arabic comment, as a challenge, not as a show-off. And even then I added a joke about jihad.

So perhaps there is no need for hasty conclusions about people. I'm talking for me here, perhaps others feel the same.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:50:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And still talking for myself, I like a good challenge anyhow. Write in Spanish and I'll be excited about replying in Spanish, even if my Spanish is generally rusty. Write in Russian and I'll get all excited about trying to understand what's being said in Russian.

I thus think that multi-lingual threads are a good opportunity for people to give it a try ... if I didn't try, I'd stick to English and French, the only two languages in which I don't have to think before writing.

Fortunately, I like thinking, and as a result, I like writing in moderate Spanish, poor Russian, obscene Sinhala, or fake Dutch ... and this brings me one step closer to the Spaniards, the Russians, the Sinhalese and the Dutch ... and I like that.

Write in French and I'll find it great that you're trying. I won't even begin to consider that you're showing off or anything of the sort. And even if you were, I wouldn't give a damn. That's valid for me ... but since we're all different, you're entitled to disagree ... but please, if you start cursing, do it in Dutch so I can learn a few swear words on the way ;))

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:58:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry my diary (rather, the existence of such a diary) made you feel upset, Bob, I wouldn't have wanted to do that for the world. It wasn't an activist move from me in favour of a multilingual ET, not at all. I was simply doing what I thought there was a consensus on -- that we should try out other-language diaries and see how it went.

Well, it does seem to have achieved something, because it's produced a clear position from one person, that is quite probably shared by others. Whereas, imho, we have talked about this for long enough without anyone really coming down on one side or the other. So pitching in and trying it has no doubt been useful, in a litmus kind of way (which was part of my intention).

Here's what I wrote on the Open Thread:

...During our discussions, I've always felt the tension between the usefulness of reaching out and interesting Europeans, and the danger of segmenting ET into little language/national corners where sub-groups of users spend their time. That's why, if the overall feeling is that we should just stay in English, I'll abide by that and no problem. The last thing we want is little national groups forming -- and as for attracting new users, I think it's fair to say (without insulting anyone) that we want to interest people who will at least read the English content of the site, at best join in comments, therefore bilingual people (apologies to mono-lingual anglophones who are obviously also welcome (yes, Bob, and Izzy, oh my gawd, don't feel marginalized..!).

So I think I'm saying I wouldn't want to change the present structure much in order to create language corners or permanent open threads, though once again, if a strong demand for that were to surface, fine.

<snip>

I suggest we need another try or two, in other languages now. This will only work if enough people want to do it, after all.

IMHO

So my position is we go on trying this out to see how people feel after a few different-language diaries. Let me add that there's no question in my mind about English being the main language here, and that people need to at least read it, at best read/write it, to participate.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:32:29 AM EST
I now have to add that the litmus test has produced sharp reactions from others. Well, well.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:58:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew, I took no offense from you personally. And in general, I try not to get personal or take things personally (though I'm not always successful). I'm just saying how I experienced it...and saying my opinion about it...whether I am on topic or off topic will ultimately be a community decision, and I will live with it.

(on another subject, the transition to live in Europe, uprooting from everything I knew, loved, was comfortable and secure with...in order to be with someone I love...has been HUGE. It has also been as hard a thing I have ever attempted, and not an easy deal, at the tender age of 53. Language is a super challenging piece of that for me...I'm learning a new one, slowly...but it doesn't come easily for me. And in its own little but significant way, the European Tribune community has contributed hugely to my feeling more at home in Europe, where I have had absolutely no roots or connections (but one significant one: my wife). To that I am and will be grateful...)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:02:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't read it that you took personal offence from me, Bob. I'm sorry the diary gave you the wrong kind of feelings, that's all. It was just a light-hearted experiment. The follow-up seems unfortunately less light-hearted.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:14:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I could not agree more with you. As you may have noticed, I was only half joking when I said that I was lost in translation in one of my previous posts. I felt uncomfortable for 2 reasons :
the one you mention ie some of the comments I could not understand and the second, on which I am along the same lines as Plutonium Page : having had the opportunity to learn, let alone speak many languages on a regular basis is, well, a matter of luck, even if it takes personal efforts to maintain a good level in that languages on the long run.

My written English is far from fluent and I sometimes miss the idiomatic expressions and idiosyncrasies, but I don't mind too much as I know this is not a native language for many of us on ET and that making mistakes is not a discriminative factor. That's one of the many reasons I like ET, as it uses a language the majority understands and can make themselves understood in using it. It is about bringing people together.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:50:13 AM EST
Agnes, I was glad you commented on my diary, but, since you are a French-speaker, I would have been happier if you'd joined in the spirit of the thing -- which was an experiment -- and commented in French yourself. Otherwise, I quite appreciate your position on the use of English as a lingua franca, and, as I say above, am not a militant for the cause of a multilingual ET. Just that we have discussed this for a long time and it was perhaps time to have a stab at it and see.

And this is a gentle, fun-filled snark :-) Why is your signature in an incomprehensible, exclusive language? (I know, I know, you started out in Latin...) ;) ;) ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:10:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, afew, I guess I would need to make a pretty long stop by a shrink's practise to answer your question : why didn't I join in in French ? :-)
Instead, I think I will try to put together a diary about the advantages and drawbacks of being split between different countries and cultures.
Would gladly have joined yesterday, in whatever language you may have requested, but the thread was toward its end when I recovered my computer connection.

And I'm happy you enjoyed my sign comment- quite confident you missed nothing about it :-)  

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:18:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe afew is only bilingual, unlike you Agnes?
As I did not contribute to afew's thread throwing in comments in Polish, German or whatever, I guess your comment Migeru was ignited by my mentioning the languages I could read and post in on another thread.
I sensed an underlying criticism in the above comment, but as I know I tend to be overly touchy, I left it rest.
That because I appreciate 99,9% of your posts, and I wouldn't want to lose them just because I may not feel good about the form of the 0,1% directed at me.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:02:20 AM EST
No, the comment was motivated by your teasing Afew for his failure to choose a more exciting (to you) non-English language for his experimental diary.
Well, afew, that was a good initiative to have a thread in a foreign language, but why did you chose that language I already find myself speaking all too much ?
If you wanted to discuss my comment, you could have done it on the thread that it was part of. I honestly don't know what the point is of taking a comment of mine out of context like that, except to troll-bait me.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:08:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you wanted to discuss my comment, you could have done it on the thread that it was part of.

Please, Migeru. She clearly explained why she felt uneasy discussing it. Emotional reasons. Possibly a fear of being accused of various internet crimes.

I honestly don't know what the point is of taking a comment of mine out of context like that, except to troll-bait me.

Then please think it over again. The correct (intended) interpretation of your comment is what is out of context here, the way she misunderstood it isn't.

Moreover, you are quoting her line out of context :-) As I read it, it was a half-joking remark.

I think I should add a point on humour to my draft in the ET Group Therapy Session thread.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:30:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that I'm getting jaded.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:33:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently it's ok to misinterpret people as long as you do it out of context?

And I am quoting her in what she said to elicit what she quotes, which I don't know how it can be construed to be out of contest.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:17:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
  1. You left out the :-) of the comment.
  2. Ask afew.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Touche.

Can we put this whole matter to rest? Or am I going to have to ask Jerome to make all my comments over the past 48 hours "editorial"?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's the point of learning, if you erase everything? The batch of embarrassment is a good teacher. ;)
by Nomad on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:29:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agnes, Migeru seems to have a real problem with form. I commented to him on the main part already, but let me 'translate' his second paragraph (or at least the way I read it).

If you (block)quote something or someone, it is always advisable to either link to the original or point out in words where it came from, so that others can look up the context. In particular, even without your intention, the above comment all alone seems something very offensive, and without source, I in fact first thought it may have been from another Migeru comment in this thread that was so bad it was deleted.

Second - most political (and not just political) internet forums are much wilder than ET, they are full of all kinds of offensive behaviour. Out-of-context quotes are a preferred weapon of trolls or 'normal' people piqued enough to troll someone. (I give an example: in one group I have been in, one chap preferred to enter every discussion a certain woman was in with quotes that seemed to show that she's lesbian and an anti-semite, where the fun fact was that she was actually Jewish. Or another, a creationist 'proved' my lack of understanding of astronomy by quoting half-sentences from me whose other half disproved his interpretation. Or another, me guilty too, I once drove an obnoxious Germanophobe freeper into despair by 'identifying' him with an also Germanophobe IHT pundit...) People 'schooled' by years of such experience (which presumably includes both me and Migeru) develop a(n over)sensitive 'radar' for such behavior. (Then again, knowing you and having been on ET for some time, Migeru should know better.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:17:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First of all (and I think that most people seem to agree on that): English is the most widely used language on international forums on the internet, simply because you reach the largest subset of people by using it.

Therefore, any site that wants to have things that are read by the largest set of people it aims for, should use English.

However, mixing up languages in one forum is just plain stupid. It's chaotic and it drives people away.

Now, if the ET had entire sub-forums for languages (i.e. all that you'd see on the frontpage was a link saying <discussions in language X>, linking to seperate forums (seperate diary lists, separate recommended lists, etc), then that would be fine.

However, with the way that ET is set up right now, using Scoop, using multiple languages is a really bad idea.

by Frank (wijsneus-aht-gmail-doht-com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:16:19 AM EST
Thanks for your comment. You make some fair points, but I have to say (in my own defence since I wrote the French diary) that we have had a recurrent discussion here on this topic in which the points you make have been stressed (rightly, in my view).

OTOH, the question was also raised of whether the largest set of people it aims for could not be reached by having diaries or threads in other European languages. The consensus seemed to be that we should try and see. That was the spirit of my diary. Since it was the first "other-language" diary, everyone had fun chipping in with all sorts of linguistic contributions, so it got multilingual out-of-hand. That doesn't reflect a prior intention to just have comments be posted in any language the commenter wished.

I'm very sorry to see the kind of reactions my diary produced.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
mixing up languages in one forum is just plain stupid. It's chaotic and it drives people away.

I think what you mean to say is that it's in your opinion that's it's just plain stupid.

Speaking for myself, I wouldn't be driven away by a thread in Dutch. On the contrary, I'd enter it, and I'd try like hell to understand what is being said. Then I'd get help from a translation application, and once some bits and pieces would become clear, I'd start enjoying the thread with the satisfaction of a Sherlock Holmes who's just solved a puzzle.

That's for me ... I don't find mixing languages plain stupid and chaotic, I find it fun and challenging. In my opinion.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:06:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I totally agree that to get maximum notice any forum needs to use is English. That does, however, beg the question is the aim of this forum to get maximum notice or is it more of a "small" community? A community of many tongues may find it necessary or desirable to use more than one language. I also find mixed languages in a forum has never stopped me from reading. In fact many of the Iraq blogs I read are in arabic and english.
by observer393 on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:46:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The good thing about english is that we all feel included. The bad side is that you are not gonna reach ost of the people you will like. I would like to remember that maybe 10 % of Spaniards will be interested in our forum if they ever reach it, given the political make up of the popualtioon. Unfortuantely I doubt that a significant number can read or write english at the minimum level necessary to write a comment.  I doubt there are 50000 people in Spain that could participate here, when the potential is probably five million.

I want to put more emphasis on the idea of Fran. If Scoop changes and allows for a redistribution of the diaries, a subdivision of diaries according to languages will be indeed possible. People will write in whatever language they can master and try to make the translation if they can. So we will ahve a lot of communitites but also the big one as always.

Important entries could be translated to other languages if there is ever enough people and money.

So until  new scoop comes then the only thing to decide is what we do with diaries not written in english. Ban it? Simply encourage heavily not writing them or just being neutral and then observe what happens...Or encourage it? I always think in this cases that there's someone who is in charge .. he is the one who should decide.

On a  personal note, i did not find myself excud for the diary in French.. I did not get anything they were talking.. I took it as funny.. if there is more diaries in french r other any other language I can not undestand I will just forget about that diary.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 07:46:06 AM EST
The good thing about english is that we all feel included. The bad side is that you are not gonna reach ost of the people you will like

Yep, that's exactly the dilemma. You're probably right that the number of new users we might reach (who need to be at least bilingual, as you say and as I say above), is perhaps limited. Yet these are people we do want to reach.

And thanks for not feeling excluded by my French. But why should you be? You write great French (or whatever it was). I understood it, anyway, I think. (les raons que dius??)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:04:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey afew, just wanted to say that I saw your diary, but I was too tired and busy to take part. I very much support the idea though! And I will happily crash into future French threads with my dodgy, rusty French and the dubious aid of babelfish...
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:47:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Metatone. Below, in a response to WhataboutBob, I suggest including an English summary of such diaries to help make the topic clear, adding to whatever light Babelfish or other may throw. Plus the possibility (which I made explicit) that English comments are allowed, meaning that questions can be asked.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:25:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and for some reason, I didn't think I was welcome to interupt that diary with a "hey, watcha all talking about?" Not sure why...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:38:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's strange. Especially since people - like me - were commenting in English already.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:41:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
who knows, but when I looked it was all in French, had no idea what was being talked about...and it struck me weird...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:57:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The way I saw it in that thread, if you didn't speak any French, you could comment in English, but if you spoke French but preferred to comment in English, you were then gently reprimanded. These were just temporary, quick rules anyhow.
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:56:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would have been fine. I'd have asked you if you were just fooling around or if you wanted to know more about the topic, and I could have given you a rundown. But I should have summarized it in the diary text.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:23:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and for some reason, I didn't think I was welcome to interupt that diary with a "hey, watcha all talking about?" Not sure why... ,

Me too. I looked at it a couple of times, and there was no english in it at that time. My (many years ago) schoolgirl french enabled me to pick up some words, and make guesses at meaning, but certainly not enough to join in. For me, one of the reasons I didn't feel able to ask for translation was a sense of embarrassment at my lack of proficiency in other languages.

by Boudicca (badgerval at hotmail dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 02:18:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have the clear view that if a new SCOOP can be created and diaries could be classifiy we could have different communities overlapping each other. Some people could only go to the spanish or the italian because they do not speak english.. but it will be better than now since they will note b into english any how (actually ET could be a great place to learn).  So I will definetely go for it.

Those of us who can should make the effort of the translation to post in both languages... and this is the only weak point I see from a new SCOOP... we will have the time and will?

The question of what happens meanwhile remains. what happens if all diaries or most are written in a language that we/I/most of us do not understand...and should we try to attract people with a very basic english by doing foreign language diaries.

I must say I do not have an answer at all. NO idea. Please afew.. I am waiting for your solution.. you know anybody can change my mine very easily sometimes.

And  catalan is almost my natural language in writing...it is very easy if you are in an english keyboard without "accent" for the vowels.
So I can write catalan any time you want...spoken is even nicer

A pleasure


I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:24:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I haven't got the solution boo hoo. One thing I know is that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush -- so, if experimenting with other languages than English is going to hurt people and break up the existing community, we should be very wary. That's my feeling right now.

Spoken Catalan is harder for me to understand... And even written is quite hard, since I'm coming at from a partial acquaintance with Occitan and have to make adjustments, though they're fairly similar. (Maybe not Barcelona slang, though...)

Please do reply to Migeru's question about Catalan/Castilian etiquette.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:38:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know, kcurie, it would be really cool if you could explain the Catalan etiquette on the use of Catalan and Spanish. I could only give an outside view and would probably get it wrong.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:17:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well this is easy. For me....

There are four kind of people.

First, those that will speak spanish no matter what and no matter who they are talking with because they do not speak catalan (or don't like it)

Second, those that speak mainly spanish and can talk and write in catalan but their family and social life is basically in spanish (most of the population in catalonia). They will always speak spanish if faced with a catalan...Roughly at the ratio of 5 catalan speakers to 1 spanish they will try to change and speak catalan. A fifty fifty meeting wil be generally in spanish..unles someone of the third group is present.

Third Those that want to speak catalan all the time. They will try to speak as long as the other one understand catalan, no matter what the other language is. If the other person can not understand they will speak spanish.

Four group. Family bilingual (father and mother used different languages), they switch inmediately and by default to the language of the people they are talking to. So you can have multiple converstaion at the same time with different people.

According to a report on science (or nature?) we are the "perfect" bilingual and we are investigated as subject around Europe when some test on the brain activity of something related with language is tested.

Typically conversations can be performed different languages at the same time.

That said, the most interesting cases are given when a meeting consists on people of class 2, class 3 , class 4 and intermediate class 1-2... The etiquette there is too much complex.. I will need a couple of diaries...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 12:57:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is clear what happens when people of the same group talk..But jsut in case the answer is not clear for otehr cases..

1+3 is each one its own language
1+2 spanish
1+4 spanish
3+4 catalan
2+3 depends on the ratio only catalan or spansih-catalan or mainly spanish with some catalan
2+3+4 Multiple language conversation with some strong clsuter of catalan (could be in spanish if 3 is in minority)

1-2+2+3+4 Typic  chaotic system in itself where any external influence can have an strong effect (even the neighboorhood you are speaking at the moment can have an influence.. for example it is not the same having the meeting in Clot neighboorhod than in a  small town.. even if the people are the same).

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 01:06:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was looking (again) at the Eurobarometer on "Europeans and Languages", where Spain is very near the bottom of the pack with 36% of people confident in a second language... and I found the following... 9% of Spaniards claimed Catalan as their mother language, 1% Basque and 3% other languages... Then, the three most widely known second languages in Spain were English (20%), Spanish (9%: you know who those are...) and 8% French.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:44:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the statistics are rigth then, in catalonia there are half spanish speakers and half catalan as mother tongue...whcih is porbably right

Let's face, most spaniards culdn't give a damn of any other language than spanish..only maybe in Madrid, because of the corportations you may find some people interested in it (also in Barcelona).. it really amazes me.. given that we are coutnry for tourists....and yet, outside of the hotel nobody can speak any language other than spanish...

Ei.. this is who we are...Well... que le voy a hacer (what can I do)

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:02:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I assume you are Spanish? Let me better your picture of your fellow country men and women.

Well, my experience, having never travelled to Spain (which I very much regret) is quite the opposite and there is even a funny story attached to it.

I studied as a non-native English speaker in Glasgow. I shared a flat with a Spanish guy and because of that, went to quite a number of Spanish parties. Now those taking part and there were plenty would all be easily able to join in our conversation here, especially since a lot of them were electrical engineers in renewables technology.

So, my admittedly rather limited experience, I only met maybe 100 spanish people in my lifeis quite different from yours, since their english was at least as good as mine.

So, don't talk your fellow country men down (-:

And now the funny story.

I always admire the English for coping (more or less) with having their language abused by the great-unwashed none-mother-toungies (gunMT's). This became really clear to me once, while working in a peace camp. I came into a room where a spanish guy and a bosnian woman were talking. It sounded vaguely familiar, but I could not make out what they were talking about, till they told me, they were speaking MY mother tounge, since that was the only language they had in common. Hehe.

by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 08:36:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spanish? No, he's Catalan. There's a world of difference. Like assuming a Bavarian is German.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 08:42:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also wanted to add "like assuming a Corsican is French" but then there's all that negativity associated with Corsica which doesn't exist for French (Perpignan) or Spanish Catalonia (Barcelona).
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:11:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How about Brittany?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, Britanny was considered different a pair of generations ago, but it's now mixed enough for the independence movement to be in its last throngs. It's still common to refer to Bretons as being a singular type of people, but not more so than an Occitan, or an Alsatian, a Nordiste for example.

Corsica on the other hand has the particularity of being isolated, insular, and, well, not always welcoming (this depends on where in Corsica of course). Bomb attacks on people with a distinctly foreign origin (particularly Arabs) occur in Corsica once in a while.

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:58:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know the Bush administration has redefined the meaning of in its last throes? There are hardly any safe idioms any more.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:04:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another idiom that is in danger of being totally hijacked by the administration, is: "to beat around the bush". Not only is "beating around the bush" something that they practice daily, but if you're suspected of beating around the Bush yourself, you can end up in an orange jumpsuit.
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:13:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I should have been more precise - and have inadvertedly revealed my ignorance...

From Spain. I should have said. From Spain

Particularly since some of those fellas were speaking catalan as well,

doh

by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:48:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From Spain? You must not have seen (or do not remember) the ads that the Catalan government put out in the international press around the time of the 1992 olympics in Barcelona. "On which country would you place this city?" (red dot on Barcelona, on a tellow silhouette of southwestern Europe) Next page: "In Catalonia, of course!" (whole of Catalonia highlighted in red).

Kcurie knows I'm just snarking, but you just can't get away from it no matter how hard you try... And the thing is boiling over in Madrid and Barcelona as we speak... unlike Muenchen and Berlin.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:52:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I have already professed my ignorance. Cannot remember those adds, but then that was the time I just started University and I did not have a television...
by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:03:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The ones I saw were printed in Newsweek. Those were the days when I was innocent and still thought NewsWeek was worth subscribing to.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:05:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don;t think I was reading anything in English back then... I had to learn Hebrew and Greek and I had only just survived school, with my English mark the worst mark of them all...
by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:07:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what? That comment is actually relevant to the topic of this diary...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:20:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Everybody that goes abroad speaks english...so the only people speaking english properly are eitehr abroad or attending people in a hotel.. I guess you may find some people in the high echelons of companies too..

Then, there is some other people who had the ability to say some sentences.. most of the young people can say these sentences but no more....

As I say..I am neither catalan nor spanish I am from Barcelona , best city in the world.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:18:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll have to give you that: 12 years of PP mayors have totally destroyed Madrid, and Barcelona had Maragall and Clos... But before 1992 Madrid was the best :-(

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 12:37:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come on Migeru..there was no other city more hot  than Madrid in the 80´s....You (and me from the distance) could proudly feel madrileño by then....now Salamanca (neighborhood) rules...it is like if Sarria would rule in Barcelona.. it blows my mind...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:25:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have to say, from the point of view of city planning barcelona has always been light-years ahead of Madrid. This is entirely because Madrid was the capital so it was full of all the rancid idiots running the Spanish government up to 1977 (with two brief Republican intermissions, that is).

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:44:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Barcelona is very high on my list of cities to visit. I hope I can make it this year, afterall there are direct flights now...
by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Great place! And they have a really fun hands-on science museum at the foot of the Tibidabo.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:06:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
good to know, when we (my wife and I) travel we usually have an average of 1.4 museums per full holiday-day.
by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:09:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Then you can take the funicular rail ride to the top of the Tibidabo and enjoy the amusement park and the church.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:12:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sigh, I am stuck in my office still,

sigh, do they still look like this?

he dodo, when are you writing something about funicular's?

by PeWi on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:22:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can look at Google's cache of images of the Funicular del Tibidabo. I haven't seen any that give you an idea of how steep that baby actually is.

Talking about funiculars... Have you ridden the one at Petřin in Prague?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 01:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually it should be the top three.. in Eurpe atleast. London, ROme and Barcleona are the top three .. depending on your tastes... the other cities(New York, Paris, Madrid Berlin)come much more far away....(he hehehe trying to pick a flame war??? no, not really... )

So I really encourage you...to come.. If you like science... go tho the science museum.. Other uesum are the best romanic in the world at the MNAC.. and of course Miro museum..

Contemporary art and Picasso are also fine...

And this is only regarding museums....

Waiting for you.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:18:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I always wanted to tour around the Gaudi buildings. And I hear the (late) night life there is excellent <heh>. (My wife and I have a trip to Barcelona on our "we have to go there soon" list...so maybe we can have a Barcelona meetup sometime. When's the best time to visit Barcelona, in your humble opinionm kcurie?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:27:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the best time is April-May....if you do not care about alergy..

The best building in the world is in Barcelona.. a gaudi's one (according to my taste is not the most famous) actually probably three out of the five best building (where people can live) are in Barcelona...

If you want dead monument.. Egypt is robably the best or Jordan or even Greece and Rome.. if you want gorgeous and amzing buildings where people can live...Barcelona...

If you go this year I guess I will be there just one weekend..but after summer.. I will probably be there...

Late night is great..absolutely great.. given that there is a lot of different kinds of night depending on the part of the city... There are some specific types of going out that are better in other parts of Spain (tapas nights better in Andalucia) or even Germany (rave parties probably better in Germany). Other than that...probably London , Istambul and Berlin are on the top five with Barcelona...

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:37:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You must mean Casa Batlló, then if it's not La Pedrera and it's in Barcelona proper.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:46:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
yea, wow...that's wild...that's one I was thinking of...and isn't there a wild church Gaudi did?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:51:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose you mean La Sagrada Familia, which is an unfinished cathedral.

I think you could classify people into two groups by whether they find the Passion or the Nativity facade more aesthetically pleasing.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 04:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfinished cathedral.. which is going ot be finished in the next decade.. or at least this is what they have been saying the last two decades....

I personally do not find any of the facades pleasant....You like one or the other or neither.. Very diffciult to like both.. indeed.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:03:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
J eje je

You know my tastes.. amazing...

Yes.. casa batllo.. my screensaver if I ever put one...

Best building in the world by far .. million of years... ahead..

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:00:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I just know my Gaudi... You gave me enough clues.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:02:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Barcelona is like the best combination of Marseille and Toulouse. Marseille for the gentle weather and the general layout by the sea, and Toulouse for the dense & ancient center with narrow streets, and for the student life.

But but but, Toulouse clearly wins in the student & bar life department: 120,000 students for a city of 420,000 (total metropolitan area: 1 million), while all of Catalonia has less than 140 000 students (and Barcelona city is 1,5 million people, and a total metropolitan area of 4.6 million)

=> In Barcelona, the alleged coolest student town in the world, students are diluted into the overall mass bouuuu houuuu whistle bouuu the crowd goes wild

Viva Tolosa!!

(it's time to fight people, it's time to fight!!)

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:07:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, I'm all for Tolosa, y'know, but is this the thread to start a fight ???

240 comments and counting...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:17:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought Tolosa was in the Basque country????

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:18:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tolosa is the Roman, and more importantly Occitan, name for Toulouse. But I think you're right about another Tolosa in the Basque country.
by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:31:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
just when things were calming down, you go incite ancient regional rivalries!! ;)

(heh, try to say that fast 3 times: ancient regional rivalries...)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 03:55:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do not doubt that Tolouse is better for studen-bar life. It is like Santiago de Compostela (Galicia, norhte-west in Spain).. I think Santiago beats Tolouse on the ratio by far.

Nevertheless on disco-bar style night full of strudents and all kind of people and with different party styles.. I would say Barceloan beats them both....In number, diversity and ratio... there hardly any place with more disco and dico-bars than Barcelona in the Mediterraneum.....Maybe istambul they say...

Let's start the fight.....!!!!

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Thu Jan 26th, 2006 at 06:08:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob, thanks for your honest diary! Here are my unordered thoughts after reading it and the comments - again, these are strictly my personal half-considered opinions, not that of a frontpager:

  • One of the things the EU wants to promote is multilingualism of individuals. I fully support that, and feel it would be good if ET could promote the same.

  • A lot of Europeans do not speak English, or speak it so bad they couldn't comment or write a diary - they are automatically excluded. But as ET has a lofty goal of becoming Europe's dKos, attracting a wider audience would be a boon.

  • I see my idea of how to become multilingual goes against the ideas of many other people here, but I will state it and argue for it anyway, see if I get responses. What I wouldn't want is a segmentation of ET into separate language groups - what I imagine is a 'mosaic community', where multilingual people are the interconnection between discussions in various languages. For that reason, I wouldn't like a strict separation by languages - at most in the recommended diary list.

  • In my version, technically everyone would be 'excluded' from a part of ET discussions. However, keeping comments threads multilingual would allow people to simply ask for a translation (which could even help those who are just in the process of learning the dominant language of the diary).

  • On the other hand, you (and PlutoniumPage) called my attention to the situation of those who got used to the present, English-only, neither segmented nor mosaic community. Bob, you wrote that you already have "a hard time with understanding a number of the converstations going on here in English, due to the technical or highly specific intellectual content". Well, you're not alone :-) and starting from this, I suggest an alternative way to look at it. I do skip a number of diaries because it's over my head, or not my interest, or I don't have the (especially emotional, humour) talent to comment, or (as often with Fran's Breakfast diaries) I came too late for the party - and the view I want to share is that this is already a similar kind of exclusion from the group, but only partial, from my viewpoint we are already kind of a mosaic community.

To repeat your words: agree with me, disagree we me, flame me...whatever...this is how I'm feeling. Und du? :-)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 08:54:26 AM EST
Thanks DoDo...You have some interesting ideas:

(...)What I wouldn't want is a segmentation of ET into separate language groups - what I imagine is a 'mosaic community', where multilingual people are the interconnection between discussions in various languages. For that reason, I wouldn't like a strict separation by languages - at most in the recommended diary list.

(...) However, keeping comments threads multilingual would allow people to simply ask for a translation (which could even help those who are just in the process of learning the dominant language of the diary).

Now this sounds much better, though think this would only work with everyone pitching in to help with translations...which can be tricky, since we all don't always get along or understand each other in the "common" language as it is. And how would a person who doesn't speak English know that they could say what they want in their language, and that someone would help translate...assumng someone was around to do that. But...anyway, I like the mosaic concept...despite all my questions about it...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:27:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is only a quick reply:

Regarding translations, I was more thinking of an informal way, i.e. some commenter requests it and another does it, not necessarily word-for-word.

Second, I would emphasize what I see kcurie also thought of: that a multilingual blog can help learning languages (I'm not arguing un-selflessly here :-) ) - including English.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, hmm...seems my hot buttons being activated have ignited other hot buttons...unfortunate. <for my part in this, sorry...>

IF I had known...or say, seen, a diary title that said, "hey let's practice our French"...I would have been less defensive. <again, afew, not pointing fingers, just a comment>. I see have a thin skin around the issue...and that probably relects my livng in a country where there are 26 dialects, no written language, and probably years before I can speak it passably (if ever).

And while I don't agree with anyone telling anyone else here to "f" off because of a difference of opinion (or misunderstanding), I do have empathy for someone who is going through the transition of trying to integrate into Europe as an outsider. It is REALLY hard...at times very emotional...and not always that welcoming of an experience (and I don't have Black skin...so I have it much easier...and its still hard). It's an uncomfortable perspective.

And...I still hold to my feeling of concern, however, that we be careful how we decide to work in the language differences...feeling connected as the whole community is very important, to me anyway, so i think we just need to think this through...

I probably should take lessons from Mr Kcurie and practice not be bothered by diaries that I don't understand...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:14:49 AM EST
Well, if you need yet another example, take me ! There is an awful lot of diaries I only lurke into, as I do not have the wit, the expertise or the fluency (or the 3 of them combined) to post bringing value-added comments. But I also learn an awful lot of English reading what the others write, especially the comments on Fran's press review or threads focused on economy.

Like you, I am trying to learn more about a country and of a language. Unlike you, I still have huge blanks in that knowledge. Like you, I'm doing this out of LOVE for someone who lives in the UK. But I shall not throw away the baby with the bath water like I sometimes do when I have "all against the French" outbursts...
Thank you, afew, for your diary, as it helped me find out there was something in my France/French vs English personal inner conflict I should think more thoroughly about.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill

by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:29:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks, Agnes. In fact, I was more intrigued than disappointed by the fact that you commented in English on that diary. But that would only be my business insofar as you chose to write about it...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:01:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
as soon as I find a "wrap" that enables "all" cross-cultural, and also those with one strong identity-am interested in views of both groups- Euro-Tribbers to contribute.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:06:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Bob, you know this kind things depend very much on each one.... but jsts imagine what you do when you meet a japanese web page... or chinese or arab.. I just have no other option that forget it...May  be I am wrong but I would say that you can do it but you do not like to do it here, because you feel in a special place and you would not like to apply this behaviour here. I perfectly understand it.

I guess it is also a question of number of diaries we do not understand. If the trend becomes that all the diaries are written in a language you do not understand..well then ET will be different and you will not feel at home any more.

My two cents.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:31:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
exactly, kcurie...it's not that I don't want things to change, just maybe not so much that I can no longer participate or feel at home. Oh well, sometimes these are things beyond our control, eh? Anyway, sometimes a person just has to say what they are worried about, then see where it goes...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:39:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I support you completely on this diary. Completely and without reservation. Independently on what conclusion  I take ...Amazingly I still do not have any opinion on what would be best :).. well it is not so strange.. it happens sometimes...when I do not think I have to take the decision.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:46:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Amazingly I still do not have any opinion on what would be best"

Me neither. It's a question of experimenting to see what happens. But I think I've said that about ten times now. So I'll stop.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:53:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I expect that the front-page and most diaries will remain in English regardless.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:59:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is good news. And I do not see the harm with English becoming a sort of lingua franca. It already is in corporate world, and this has nothing to do with the accession of the new EU member states.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agnes, I hate to take issue with you (eeek!), but this is not really news. There was never any question of doing away with English as ET's lingua franca.

I feel I must issue a disclaimer:

No, I did not post a diary in French as the first act of a French-language takeover of EuroTrib. :-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:08:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am too busy taking issues with Migeru.;-)

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:25:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least one of us finds it amusing...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ok, I'm not taking it you're pointing fingers, but I want to respond. I really do think we have spent a lot of time talking about this, and that a lot of the advantages and drawbacks have been pointed out. Not long ago there was this diary that ran a census of what people were capable and ready to participate in. In the diary DoDo refers back to this discussion. There were other similar discussions about this stretching back to last summer, iirc.

So I'm willing to take responsibility for putting the cat among the pigeons, but not for taking the pigeons by surprise. The situation was that a lot of users were ready for this experiment and it was simply a matter of someone doing it.

"Hey, let's practise our French" might have been a title, but that wasn't really what it was about, and we couldn't go on using that kind of title for all non-English diaries. One thing I did think of doing was including a summary of the diary in English, and perhaps I should have put in the extra ten minutes. In fact, if we do more other-language diaries, maybe that should be a rule. It would allow non-speakers of that language to get an idea of the topic. They could then, if interested, use a translator to find out more. If still uncertain of some points, post an English comment to ask for guidance. The point being to include, not to exclude.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:48:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I can see your point...I don't want to be a fascist about how we do things here...like it has to be done "so and so". So, okay, you are right about that...that would take the spontaneity out of it. So...anyway, lets see where it goes

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:20:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing you don't seem like is a fascist, Bob... ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:42:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are very many people out there surfing the net who have passive understanding of English but are not confident enough to write in it. Those are is the voices I'd like this site to channel. But that's just me.

The second point I want to make is that it is exclusionary when a bilingual, given the choice, uses his/her own native language. The most effective way to break the ice is to address others, however haltingly, in their native language. The most effective way to erect a barrier is to write with virtuosity in your own. This does not apply to monolinguals for obvious reasons. Afew, after all, is not a native French speaker so his diary was totally ok. You won't see me diarying in Spanish either, but maybe Alex could.

The third and last point (and I hope Bob will forgive my bluntness even if others won't) is that, unless I am completely missing the meaning of Bob's analogy, this

But my feeling is that if there begins to be several discussions in several languages, what's the connection? Where's the communication between people? Where's the community? I have a strong feeling the result will be a breaking down and a dilution of the community feel. There's a parallel process to the EU process...the National vs the Pan-European. And I personally don't feel comfortable with conversations going on where I don't understand the discussion...it feels excluding and exclusive.
is positively destructive to a pan-European ideal. Are you saying, Bob, that European construction can only be monolingual?

I believe this is the end of my lunch break...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 09:49:08 AM EST
We can talk more about this later, as I too must get some work done..but what does "the Pan-European ideal" mean to you exactly? I meant it in a non-nationalist context, and that includes being able to talk in a language where we understand...and unless we hire translators...we will need one language (in my opinion). It seems to me that is a loaded issue for you Migeru (though I acknowledge it has become one for me), since you have been one the people pushing on this issue for the longest/hardest...and, I guess, I just don't know what your agenda is about it, to tell you the truth. I do believe that multi-lingualism is important, but for this blog? Again, I feel it is an over-reach...there is no way we will make everyone happy about this, however much effort we put into it...and if multiple languages are being spoken and there is no communication back to a common language/reference point, people will lose interest. The effort here has been to develop a common point of reference...I thought, anyway. Dodo had some interesting ideas above, if there is some way to put that into action...otherwise, its just segregation. imho

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what does "the Pan-European ideal" mean to you exactly? I meant it in a non-nationalist context, and that includes being able to talk in a language where we understand...and unless we hire translators...we will need one language (in my opinion).

Bob, this is really a very European issue, one that has been debated heavily ever since the formation of (the first precursor) of the EU, and even before - I think Migeru's comments reflect that more than opinions he formed all alone. (At least their understanding by me seems to imply so.) The problem is, no single lingua franca will be agreed upon. And not even if no nationalisms are included - have you heard of Esperanto? That was an attempt at a universal language, it is easy to learn, a lot of people speak it (especially in Europe), but it just didn't catch on.

It may be the case that elites (politicians, stars, media, managers) could and have settled for English as lingua franca in practice, but elites are by definition exclusive. But a lot of even those Europeans who do speak foreign languages do not speak English. So the EU has translators for all languages and floor discussions in multiple languages, nd the broader population does the same - Europe itself is a 'mosaic community'. For example, in CEE or on the Balkans, you have more chance being understood in German than in English, and a lot of Hungarians or Serbians will attempt communication in that language even if say in Spain or the Netherlands. (All my older relatives are like that.)

And here, while English is convenient for you and for all current ET readers, it is not for a great many people who could be included, and connected by English-and-other multilinguals.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:59:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After reading wchurchill above, I realise that what I wrote can be read as arrogant lecturing of a new immigrant.

But, after thinking some about it, I must admit it is lecturing... tough, meant in a friendly way. It wasn't meant to make you feel an outsider again, rather, inormation to enable you to feel more of an insider!

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:10:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't a bad lecture at all, really, I learned a lot right here about history, perspectives and language use. You can't feel like an "insider" if you don't have a full perspective of what "European" culture (in all of its variety) is, so you're giving me hints and advice...cool!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:21:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant it in a non-nationalist context, and that includes being able to talk in a language where we understand...and unless we hire translators...we will need one language (in my opinion).
I speak the languages of the 5 largest EU member states. Reaching out across the continent is not a huge problem for me personally. But it is a problem for a great many people. English-only is elitist, in the EU more so than in the US. Is this site elitist? Some people seem to think not. I disagree.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:15:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
English-only is elitist, in the EU more so than in the US. Is this site elitist? Some people seem to think not. I disagree.

Migeru, I recall your once self-revealing in a comment somewhere a number of months ago (and I'm paraphrasing), that you "have a history of being argumentative, which has often resulted in your being disliked by those you argue with". I may not be being entirely accurate in my recalling your comment, but I'm certain you recall what you said. Anyway, for some reason your comment struck me at the time as curious, and has always stuck with me. In all seriousness, I acknowledge this Migeru: your high intelligence is obvious (and you are not shy about your own intelligence)...but, and now I hope you will forgive me for my bluntness, but you often come across to me as quite elitist yourself.  My point being, and in all due respect, I don't know where to go with your comments...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 01:14:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob, I feel like I don't have anything to lose any longer so here we go.

The thrust of your arguments on this diary is basically "why can't Europeans just agree on one language to speak? It would make everyone's life so much easier".

As you know, the ISO country code for Switzerland is CH from the latin Confoederatio Helvetica. The Swiss know a tad more about multilingualism, democracy and getting along with others than just about anyone else in Europe, and they chose a friggin' dead language to draw a common identifier from.

Mandarin Chinese stands a better choice of becoming the single language of Europe than any autoctonous language.

It has taken a lot of pain to school ourselves in the idea that the linguistic diversity of Europe is not a hindrance but a treasure, and some people still don't get it.

Was it really so offensive that there was one diary and thread where people joyfully celebrated their multilingual heritage, one-upmanship and all?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:08:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry to say that Migeru and once again, do not forget the many times I acknowledged the high consideration I have for your diaries and posts, even when there have been some disagreements on the form.
Not that I want to drive the nail in, as direct issues settling is recommended, I have one question. When you write
I speak the languages of the 5 largest EU member states
I suddenly feel annoyed by the comment you made yesterday
Maybe afew is only bilingual, unlike you Agnes?
That was a snark aimed at pointing out that I boast too much about my language skills, right ? Well, my ego may not be undersized, but I do not recollect having bragged about the infinite number of languages I speak or understand. On the contrary, I tend to feel that I fall short compared to other ET members.
So what's the problem you had with me ?  

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:43:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you really want an answer to your latter question, I'd much rather do it over private e-mail, but that is again something I think should not be taken lightly. At the very least we have a lot of misunderstandings to clear. So think about this four times. My e-mail address is public, as yours used to be. Maybe you should choose an arbiter to Cc: any e-mails to, just to make sure I don't say anything I might later regret.

You again insist on misunderstanding what I said, and I have alreasy explain what I thought I meant by what I said and what I thought you meant with what I quoted and that my one-liner was a reply to.

I disagree that issues settling is recommended. Cooling off is recommended and reflecting on what one said and the others said is recommended. But dwelling on the issues until they are settled is bad policy: it doesn't allow cooling off and it just adds to the pile of I-said-yuo-said that needs to be reflected on, plus it may expose other issues.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:55:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Within 3 years and maybe 1, you'll be able to set your language in a forum like this and then read all diaries and comments in your chosen language. Within 5, you'll be able to listen on your mobile in your chosen language - to a bot that translates and speaks as the other caller.

The software is already that good at the high end.

But it requires a certain style of writing (or speaking) that avoids idiomatics, analogies, puns and other indirect usages that require cultural knowledge - none of my jokes would work, for instance ;-)   IMHO it would be acceptable to write in this new translatable style, in the interests of communication with a broad range of different cultures/languages.

In the meantime, we have ET in English. I don't think we should change. I visit blogs in Finnish, and post there in Finnish. Here at ET I can dialogue with a greater range of people in a common language. Perhaps what will ultimately emerge over the next few months is a network of blogs - each in a single language - but with common members who can summarise important diaries/comments in another language or use them to create their own diaries in other languages. As I stated before - this could also be automated in the near future.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:02:40 AM EST
You suffer from excessive optimism.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:03:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What Sven is talking about already exists: automatic language negotiation. It's been part of the HTML standard since version 1.1 (the current version is 4.x). That's what "setting your default language" in your browser is all about. Except that nobody, but nobody, bothers to use it in their webpages.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:08:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I'm aware of the HTTP/1.1 standard, which is the one that contains the language and media negotiation stuff.  

Nobody uses it because it's hard enough to have one language version for a page. I've never looked but I bet the browsers don't send sensible requests either.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I regularly work with VTT and Nokia, and have seen these things demonstrated.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:08:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Writing in a translatable style isn't acceptable. It's hard enough doing this shit as it is. Take all the fun out of it while you at it.

I never believe demos.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:13:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Normal english.. impossible... But if it gets 3 out of  4 right for plain english, it is something.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:16:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it really work with plain english? Which score? Better than 50%? If it gets close to 70 % you are really saying something huge....

I hope you are damn right!!!! Can I see it too?... please.... please.....

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:14:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Works very well where Finnish is one of the language sources or destinations (but see note below). For instance, almost real time conversion of Finnish speech to text (with the sort of delay you get on international calls) and that text translated on the run into acceptable English.

Then another interesting area is that of language bots which hold a dialogue with you. Try this one. The bot learns a whole range of idiomatic responses by endless trial and error.

There are several others that are too complex to be explained here. But in my opinion it is only a matter of time, as I stated earlier.

FINNISH is a language with few exceptions to the rules (unlike English). Pronunciation is always the same. Once you know how to pronounce the letters, you can pronounce any word. All letters are sounded, including double consonants and vowels. The emphasis is always on the first syllable. Recognizing compound words is more tricky (and there are plenty in Finnish) but the same basic rules apply. Adverbial word stem endings, although complex, are always part of the noun or verb they modify and therefore easier to understand.

Having Finnish as one half of a language pair makes the translation process less complicated. But the developments going on here in Finland at the moment, are moving fast.

Let's see who is right ;-)
If we are still here in 5 years, Colman will owe me a bottle of bubbly. Which will be translated into pleasure.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:56:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am with Colman.. I think it will take much more than that. Software will be very bad for a lot of years...

And software will probably be very bad even in the future...We will be lucky if in 50 years you can get a decent translation of something written using the most plain vocabulary you can get..

I hope I am wrong...really.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:11:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was trying to get through the French diary in a resonable amount of time, so I plugged a few things into babelfish, and the translations into English were much more difficult to understand than the French itself.  It was pretty scary.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:25:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know scoop well enough, but, here is an CSS idea.

The main langauge of ET is and remains English for all the good and bad reasons that everybody knows and don;t need repeating.

then there is the multinational button, which, like magic lifts a vail to reveal other language diaries, you could only see one other language at a time, parallel to english, but there would be space for however many other diaries anybody wanted.
All this would work like a Filter, you can switch on certain "Tags" and hey presto all English and all Dutch, or all English and all Slovacian diaries are there for you to see.

Sure this might lead to greater segmentation, but it would give people a chance to take part that dont feel that confident in writing in a furrin language.

I hope this is not to complicated (I am working on understanding CSS in the moment and play around with different layouts [http://www.csszengarden.com/] providing different style and content organisational possibilities.

In other words, if there were a wish to include other languages, I am sure it could be programmed. And just checking the source of the page I am looking at, it seems not toooooooo difficult to implement it, says the non- programmer.

Anyway, what do I know?

by PeWi on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:18:44 AM EST
Well Stanley, this is another fine mess you have gotten us into...

I'm sorry Ollie, I didn't mean to do it...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:24:47 AM EST
If it makes you feel better, I think I've figured out what my first diary will be because of this whole kerfluffle.... Now I just need to find time to write it.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:46:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Really looking forward to reading it...<nudge, nudge>

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:35:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh... crap.  Ok, ok.  I thought maybe nobody had noticed that I promised to write something....

Actually, I've been thinking about it a lot, but work's been crazy, and I've actually had a bit of a social life this week, al-hamdulillah.  Hopefully I'll have time either tomorrow (Thursday) night, or Friday.

That, and I wasn't sure whether people wanted to just let the whole language issue die out for now.  But since this thread shows no signs of expiring, I guess not....

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I basically agree with you. I realize that the fact that English is the de facto lingua franca of the world irritates many people, but a fact it is. Most educated people below a certain age have at least a basic comprehension of English. Once upon a time that was true of French and to a lesser extent German, not anymore. In terms of the general audience writing diaries in other languages seems to me to be a bit like one of the econ diaries relying heavily on multivariable calc and differential equations to make its point - though I'm sure many here would understand (not me, not anymore, I've forgotten all that stuff).

On the other hand an occasional foreign language diary for people to have fun in shouldn't be that big a deal (though other than French, German, Spanish, and maybe Russian I don't thing there's a critical mass of readers for it to work). I saw afew's diary as a chance to have fun by practising my very rusty written French.  I also think one should be indulgent of references to articles and occasional extended quotes from such articles as long as they are accompanied by a brief summary. There's interesting stuff out there in other languages and translation requires a significant effort.  That said I always do translations when I quote from Polish articles, as opposed to French or German since I want more than just two other people to understand what I'm writing.  

So I guess to sum up, I think writing languages other than English is a losing game in terms of getting readership.

by MarekNYC on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 10:43:09 AM EST
And then at some point the lingua franca will become Mandarin Chinese, and this whole English argument will become moot...but hopefully that is a way off ;)

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:03:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most educated people below a certain age have at least a basic comprehension of English.

I honestly believe that this is an illusion created by English-speakers moving in certain educated circles. I too tought like you, or at least I thought it's true for my and most of the previous generation, but then met a surprising number of educated people who didn't knew more than "play" and "rec" in English, especially engineers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:06:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not to speak of actually communicating, and the accession of the new 10 member states has just made matters worse for English as a lingua franca.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:10:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but as usual, I have to give one for the other side :-)

The population of the ten new member states may be less English-speaking, but the younger generations are Anglophone there, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:13:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a language that can take a lot of punishment. You can cut it up, distort it, take out all the vowels - and still it is readable. It is a language that doesn't belong to anyone any more. It is Open Source - unlike attempts to museify languages such as French - to keep French 'pure'. That is the death knell - museums only hold inanimate objects.

So it is the least demanding language for people to make mistakes in. I believe that the idiosyncracies of English will be slowly ironed out - with consistent spelling, for instance. The Yanks have already taken out the surplus 'u's from words like 'flavor', for instance - and that is fine by me. I even use' thru' for 'through' in SMS. SMS, as we have discussed before, is a major influence on the streamlining of the written language among teens. When every button push is a labor, there's a drive to elide.

So I see the development of yet another form of English - simplified web English, that will be easier to use for people for whom English is not a first language. It won't stop Colman writing mellifluous prose, it will be another alternative for communication.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:12:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That may be true for written English. As for the spoken one, as for pronouncement - I personally take any language over English! (I made my medium-level spoken English language exam only at third try...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 11:15:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
<personal factoid> In Switzerland, as I try to improve my confidence and vocabulary in German, people would much rather speak to me in English than German...and it happens all the time, which is not helping me in my learning German (but I'm also lazy and will easily slip into "helping" them with their English, rather than having them help me with my German...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 12:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear the same would happen to me if I tried my French on a street in Genf...

I guess my difficulties in spoken English (I emphasize spoken - heard English is easier, I watch films in original language) come from two sources: the absolute disassociation of written and spoken words, and the uncertainty of pronouncement (the 'th' in say "think" is difficult enough would major English dialects not pronounce it very differently). In contrast, in German or French (or Spanish), tough they are Indo-European too (my mother tongue is not), I only have to learn a few differing rules, and almost all voices are familiar.

Now what I don't get is how say Swiss Germans don't trip their tongue on "thought", "calluous", "durable" and so on...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 02:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't want to cause offence, so please understand I only make the comment since we are talking about this kind of stuff. (And indeed your English is great and your level of foreign languages puts me to shame.)

But, many times you write "tough" when I think you mean "though":

In contrast, in German or French (or Spanish), tough they are Indo-European too (my mother tongue is not), I only have to learn a few differing rules, and almost all voices are familiar.

Sometimes this confuses me in comments you have written. (Where the context is less obvious.)

Hope this doesn't come off as a patronising comment.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:21:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope this doesn't come off as a patronising comment.

Look, I am not an easily insultable poster, I am a tough guy :-)

No indeed, thanks for the correction - I guess the closeness to "thought" confused me enough to not even notice that I write two different words identically...

Just the other day, the ET spellchecker taught me that it's "occasion" on "ocassion", and that there is no such thing as "completition"...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:33:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mistake. I will pay attention to write thought and not tough.
BTW, the basics of English are really easy, but when it comes to idiomatic words, well it's truly tough. Having learnt English at high school and practised it as a business language, I do lack the day-to-day idiosyncrasies.

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:43:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"(the 'th' in say "think" is difficult enough would major English dialects not pronounce it very differently)."

Please don't be offended, DoDo, if I jump in here. I can't myself think of a major dialectal difference in pronunciation of the "th" in "think". It's an unvoiced "th" that most English speakers pronounce in the same way (with a possible slight tendency towards an aspirate "t" in some Irish accents?)

The disassociation of spelling and pronunciation, on the other hand, there you have my sympathy. But I look at Hungarian words and your explanation of how to pronounce them and marvel... ;)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:34:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To my ear, that "th" sometimes sounds close to a t, sometimes close to an s, sometimes a little d is in it. Fluctuating between these three (<-here is it again), I completely despair each time I have to sound it...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:40:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find it really amusing that English speakers have no trouble distinguishing between 'thick' and 'sick' and yet insist on claiming that Castillians "lisp" when they distinguish between maza and masa.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:11:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
- unlike attempts to museify languages such as French - to keep French 'pure'. That is the death knell - museums only hold inanimate objects.
totally seconded Sven, as far as French is concerned. According to the official French wordbook we should write mél instead of mail. Isn't that pathetic ?

When through hell, just keep going. W. Churchill
by Agnes a Paris on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:52:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How is it in Polish, by the way?

The French practice is not undifferent from the Hungarian, often-used English (and German and Latin) words are Hungarianised in spelling. This is partially the case in Germany, too - tough there is a more recent trend of the opposite, excessive Anglicisms. There are even English-stemmed word creations that make no sense to a native English speaker (this is lampooned as Neudeutsch).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:58:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FOR GOD'S SAKE MAN, IF THEY DON'T UNDERSTAND ENGLISH YOU  BLOODY WELL NEED TO SPEAK LOUDER.

There. Somebody had to say it ;<)

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz

by Chris Kulczycki on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 02:26:46 PM EST
...or follow the example of Marek's father who (if I remember well) "could get himself misunderstood in seven languages"... :-)
by Bernard on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:32:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now wait a minute; that was my father.  We do need copyright protection ;<)

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
Czeslaw Milosz
by Chris Kulczycki on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No Chris, I am your father. Tatata taaaa ta, tatata taaaa ta, tatata taaaa ta, tananana.

Sorry, I just had to say it.

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
that I need to run another 'Get It Off Your Chest' diary

"The natives are restless tonight, Carruthers, eh?"
"Yes sir, but we are alright until the drums stop, then it is awful"
"Good Lord, man, what happens when the drums stop?"
"Bass solo, sir"


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:08:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of, we've made a few batches of crepes, and they've been good, but not great. Too chewy.  Any tips?

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:16:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you let the crêpe paste rest in the fridge for a couple of hours?
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:23:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm, the first time we left it in the fridge for an hour and they were pretty good, not perfect. The second time we made it and then decided we weren't hungry and left it in overnight.  That was a bad batch.  Is that it?  They tasted wonderful but had a wierd rubbery texture.  

I'm remembering now, my grandmother used to make Swedish pancakes for the whole family when everyone was in town.  It was an annual event.  But they had to be eaten as soon as they were made, so the whole family would stay at her house & get up early and wait in line in the kithen with their plate, waiting for their turn to eat pancakes.  

I suppose timing is everything.

...I need to find her recipe!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:38:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh you mean the second time around you made the crêpes and let them stay in the fridge all night? I think this would have hardened them.

Or do you mean you left the paste in the fridge overnight? If that's the case then it shouldn't be a problem, I've used paste for a few days running (basically until I had used all of it to make crêpes).

Anyhow the paste has to settle in gently (thus the fridge), and has to be perfect. It's all in the paste!

by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:07:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I left the paste, or ahem, the batter in overnight.  I generally try not to eat paste. ;)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:20:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI We call it batter, not paste

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:21:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Duly noted. I feel pasted and bruised now ;)
by Alex in Toulouse on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
alternatively, you could subscribe to Quentin Crisp's view :
"They all speak English when your back's turned"
by Boudicca (badgerval at hotmail dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:25:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I met him in the Sixties - he was a really interesting old bugger with a wonderful turn of phrase. We were talking about drinks and he said he liked Vodka because it had the "texture of boiled pearls"

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:23:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No flaming, and as English is my native language, I'm personally not invested in a polyglot blog.  But you know how I feel.  

This is a European blog and there are how many official languages of the EU?  You felt left out by the French diary, but how many French people feel left out by your diaries?  (Rhetorical.  Maybe none do. Who knows?)  I often feel left out when trying to read the diaries on energy and economic theory.  Seriously feels like a foriegn language.  

Why do I even care?  I'm neither European nor particularly fluent in another language.  But I guess I am just sensitive to the fact that English, while maybe the most widely spoken language here, is not everyone's language, and is it ok to say, "well if you don't want to speak English, we don't want to hear from you?" but not ok to allow diaries in other languages because some of us might feel left out?  Ya know?  And having them labelled has been referred to as "segregation" and "ghettoization."  Fine.  What would you call not having them at all?  

I'm also a big proponent of the idea that knowledge of other languages, and attempting to see the world through the eyes of others -which language is extremely useful for- is essential for overcoming our differences and working together for a common good.  So I see a multitude of languages, while chaotic and frustrating, a way of gleaning insight into other cultures in a way we can't do if we all speak English.

Of course, these are all big lofty philosophies and have little to do with the practical day-to-day management of a website.

But if and when a decision is reached on the subject, I think at least the preferences of our non-native English speaking contributers should be given equal weight as those of the Americans, English, Irish, etc.  

stepping down from soapbox...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 02:32:11 PM EST
You do fine in French, poemless.

And I agree with you that there are -- quite often -- diaries here that I look at, know I'm out of my depth (too technical/specialized for me), and so I go and look at something else. I don't feel deprived or excluded.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm also a big proponent of the idea that knowledge of other languages, and attempting to see the world through the eyes of others -which language is extremely useful for- is essential for overcoming our differences and working together for a common good.  So I see a multitude of languages, while chaotic and frustrating, a way of gleaning insight into other cultures in a way we can't do if we all speak English.

Wow, I re-read this...and this is right on and makes a great deal of sense. If we were keeping score, you just hit a grand slam! Thank you.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 02:46:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks.

But I think it is time to let go.

Let go.  Let go of the diary.  Everyone.  There are 245 comments now.  It's like the Teri Schaivo diary: some of us refuse to just let it die.  Keeping it alive isn't a good idea.  There are new open threads, you can even start a whole new diary if you want. But if I have to refresh this one more time, my computer is going to be on life support!

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:49:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been in this situation before in real life, where people around me are all (or close to) multi-lingual. I learnt French for 4 years, Latin for a couple and Bahasa Indonesia in an intensive course before going to Indonesia for a study trip. Although I've found myself to be pretty good at learning languages, the isolation of Australia, where it's generally very hard to find someone to 'practice' with has meant that inevitably, I have not retained those language learnings.

So when I lived in Switzerland for a year, I was very aware of being uni-lingual in a country that is on average, at least tri-lingual, and the educated  frequently speak 5 languages. I had the same problem as Bob, no-one would in a sense let me learn German (I was in Zurich) because they would break into english immediately on me.

While the people I was living with /working for were elitist snobs and quite enjoyed making me feel inferior, I soon got over that, and apart from being envious, don't see the ability to speak several languages as at all elitist - it's mainly a reflection of living in a country or continent where different groups and their languages are cheek by jowl. Australia has no such advantage, alas. For eg, I can contrast my European experience with my extensive travels in India, where, with about 1600 dialects, everyone speaks a minimum of 3 languages, from the street kids to the elite (who will usually speak more).

So my first over-arching comment would be that those on this site who speak only english, and think speaking several languages is elitist, need to rethink that, as  suspect there's too much self-consciousness and insecurity at play. We think it's elitist because you have to have a certain kind of education and opportunities if you grow up in the USA, the UK or Australia to successfully grasp several languages. Not so in Europe and many other parts of the world.

Which brings me to Eurotrib. I saw the French diary, had a look and sighed, realising just how much my once very-good written French has deteriorated, and that was that.  I didn't feel excluded; I did wonder a bit at the practical level of how to transfer a good conversation or insight from one language to another on the site. My thoughts run something like this:

1) I think first up we need to stop pretending this site isn't aimed at / has become a site for the intellectual elite in one way or another. It has; it is, simply by the level of discourse. So my question here would be, who do you think is your main audience, and how important therefore is it to run this site with some form of multilingual presentation? You need some market research, man. A poll of readers would start it; eg - "what languages can you speak"; "what languages can your comfortably comprehend and write in?" - and then start looking for the common one. I suspect english is the answer there, and would need to remain the dominant language on the site - but I don't see that precluding other regular non-english spots (more on that below)

2) The scope of this site needs to be considered. Just how global is Eurotrib aiming to be? For eg, if you truly wanted to go more global than that, what about all those South Koreans with great internet access courtesy of their government, and the burgeoning number of Chinese and Indians on the net?; - if we wanted to draw some of those people in, what implications does it have? If we want to stay a largely Euro-centric site that also welcomes news updates from around the world, and similarly, perspectives from other places, this is much less of an issue.

3) Ok, so let's say you poll your readers and find that english is the most commonly held and therefore best main language for the site. Some ideas on non-english use would be:
 - feature a rant of the week in another language, and provide a rough translation
 - let people run diaries in their language of choice, and encourage multi-lingual people to cross-fertilise diaries on the same topic in different languages
 - get some of the talented people here to feature & translate an important news article or opinion from their country, and front page it, so people can get a feel for what is being said around the world in other languages & cultures.

None of the above is exclusionary or elitist, any more than a high-powered economics thread is for your average non-economist.

vive la difference; now let's build a community.


"This can't possibly get more disturbing!" - Willow

by myriad (imogenk at wildmail dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 03:20:47 PM EST
Some very good points, myriad, and I agree with you about elitism.

Just to pick up on a couple of things:  

  • I don't think there's any doubt in anyone's mind that English is and should remain the main, central, all-permeating language of this site.

  • There was a poll of current users' languages, run earlier this month, perhaps you didn't see it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 04:11:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru and Page, calm down.  I certainly don't want to see either of you leave (or change names).  Who the hell am I going to discuss university stuff with if you leave, Miguel?

As far as other languages are concerned, the thread from the other day didn't bother me.  As I've said before, I'm not strong with foreign languages.  It's not for a lack of effort.  I took a few years of Spanish and French, though, granted, the teachers were horrible.  I simply have trouble getting into the proper mindset.

But non-English threads don't bother me, personally.  I'm not able to participate, but my lack of knowledge shouldn't be grounds for forcing the rest of you to stick with English.  I certainly don't want to reduce the ability of others, who might either not speak English or speak very little, to participate and be comfortable in their word usage.  I say, Bring On the Furrenerspeak! :)

I'm glad to have our little Russian invasion, for example.  It gives lazy pricks like me the chance to learn about what is really going on at the Kremlin, instead of what the press tells the American public.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:22:52 PM EST
There's always e-mail.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is true.  But I would still miss your diaries.  And the rest of the EuroTrib community would be poorer for it, in my opinion.  Plus, as a mathematical physicist here, you can keep all of the economists in line. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 05:49:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Who are you calling an economist? I have not seen any around...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:12:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good, because they write such esoteric diaries...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's an elite thing.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very late in this already hotly debated thread. I was away yesterday and, having had great fun reading & posting on Afew's French diary on Sunday, I came back to find the big debate. So although it's late and risky I wanted to add my two cents.

Let me first say the one thing I think was missing from Afew's French language diary was a quick summary in English of what the diary was about (i.e. The different & somewhat contradictory interpretations of a survey of how much/little English the French speak as reported in the French press over the weekend).

It seems the history of this site, it's current audience and the need for a common language for people in multiple countries are reasons for the site to be a mainly English language site. One of the many things I like about this site is that users include people who use their language skills to translate and analyze perspectives that are expressed in the non-English language press or streets. This is in addition to all the great analysis, stories and debates in which the translation skills are not linguistic but, for lack of better words, technical, social or just plain insightful.

I like the mix ET has and, as long as non-English language diaries are written with the understanding that  they need to be, at some level, accessible to readers of English (by which I mean anyone who does not read the no-English language chosen for the diary) then why deprive ourselves of diaries where the main language is not English? I think they will only be occasional and as long as they have an English summary or intro and it is understood that people may choose to post in English  why exclude them? They will just add to the current mix of topics/issues covered.

As for other blogs in other EU languages I am no expert  since I'm so new to the blogosphere but my understanding so far is that ET is rather unique in Europe for the seriousness (& humor) of the content and it's openness to discussion. If this is a gross overstatement then great lets add those other European sites to the recommended sites list and maybe even attract other non-native English language users by cross posting bilingual blogs.

by Alexandra in WMass (alexandra_wmass[a|t]yahoo[d|o|t]fr) on Tue Jan 24th, 2006 at 06:39:13 PM EST
Well, I've been reflecting on my post and all the subsequent posts since yesterday, and my tendency is to go to a whole other place, which is more about meta-language and meta-issues. Perhaps this reflects my 25+ years of training and work in multiple areas of the mental health field...but if I have one expertise that I truly trust, it is in the area of group process and group dynamics. And I find myself wondering...(and this is a rhetorical question):

...is this whole conversation truly about language? (notwithstanding the significance of the subject, in and of itself, where many good suggestions have been made).  Or is this really about someone's power and control issues?

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 04:12:26 AM EST
Of course it is about power and control!

But not even for the deep reason that whataboutbob is a manipulative character who wrote a diary calculated to bring out the festering resentments in the community! ;-)

No, the reason it is about power and control is we are not "talking about language" we are talking about "choice of language."

And as we all know as soon as choice is the issue, power and control follow. After all, who makes the choice? Who died and made them king? Did you vote for them, I know I didn't!

</snark>

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 04:32:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, except for cases where a diary is requested, everyone who posts a diary exercises a choice that people haven't voted for.

In the case of my diary, I feel that the discussion had been going on so long that there absolutely was an expression of strong interest from a large number of EuroTribbers, and that I was following a consensus decision in posting it.

In fact, I feel that so strongly that I'll say this: I doubt if any diary on ET has ever been posted with as much user demand behind it (even in choice of language, since the census showed that French was the next language down from English as a common denominator).

Those who say they were surprised by my diary, I'm sorry to say, were, imho, simply not paying attention to the discussions that were taking place, and had been since last summer.

And now I've had enough of this.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:19:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that you weren't even the first to attempt it - only the first successful one. Back in summer, I tried to post stuff both in German and English, but stopped after getting replies only in English.

Also, before I saw your thread which made it obsolete, I planned a "census analysis" post. In there, I would have concluded that I think trying French in a few diaries would be worthwile, but for a truly big experiment, ET would still have to grow much more.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 06:14:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not do the census analysis anyway? On the contrary, it would be interesting and useful, imo.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:27:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, may do so - but I didn't plan much more than a tally for each language and category in a table, and stuff now dealt with in this thread, plus the suggestion to try diaries in French.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 10:09:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I actually have come full circle on the issue of alternative language diaries, I just needed some context...like it is okay for me to butt into a thread that is totally in another language and ask what's going on...which I feel is fine to do now. Anyway, as I have thought about it, I now recall many times that people have posted snippets of articles from another language, then followed with a translation, and always appreciated the effort there.

So...long contentious threads to sometimes cause a person to reflect and make changes.

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:36:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Argh, I was only trying to lighten the tone with bob, no aspersions were being cast on you, afew!

(The actual phrases are manglings of the peasant complaint in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 08:38:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
sorry, long thread = threadbare understanding.. ;)
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Metatone, I realize my last line might be read as a snappy rejoinder to you, which it isn't meant to be at all.

I've explained my position so many times here now that I've had enough, that's all :-)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:41:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob, this thread is long and getting hard to manage. If you really want to pursue that line of thinking (and it may be a perfectly valid one), why not do so in a new diary?

But may I suggest you think twice or thrice before doing that? (no snark, no hostility ;)).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 05:28:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
afew, you are right...I need to just stop and cool down myself...let it lay. And no new diary, this is plenty for now (thanks for your gentle but firm nudge).

Peace!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia

by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:38:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bob, thanks for this diary -- in all our previous talk about this topic, I don't recall anyone saying an other-language diary might produce feelings of exclusion, and I must admit I went ahead without that particular lamp being lit up in my mind (or I would have taken more care about how I proceeded). So it's a good thing you said what you said and exposed your feelings honestly. Maybe we needed the experimental diary to find out.

If we do another such diary (and that depends on the will of people to do it), I think we should previously agree on some procedural questions. As you say above, you feel clearer now about the possibility of butting in -- that should be made very clear. English is the lingua franca. The idea of a summary of the diary in English also seems good and should become mandatory.

In this, I'm accepting (let it be said in passing) that I myself will be "excluded" by some diaries. I very much doubt I'm capable (though I'm willing to sweat over it) of reading a diary in German and following the comments, for example. I'll just have to duck out, as I already do for some diaries that are too technical for me.

And, in the end, who knows? Maybe we will collectively gravitate towards the decision that such diaries are not useful...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 07:58:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
English may be the Lingua Franca, but Franca sounds awfully close to Français, and since afew already showed us that there were more words of French origin in English than words of Germanic origin, I think we need a tie-breaker.

Some rugby matches coming up in a few weeks could do the job. ET could take, each year, the language of the winner of the 6 nations tournament, only if that winner is France. All in agreement raise your eyebrows. Ok, done.

by Alex in Toulouse on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:18:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wikipedia: Lingua Franca
The origin of the term lingua franca is Latin (literally "Frankish language"), derived from the medieval Arab and Muslim use of the ethnonym "Franks" as a generic term for Europeans during the period of the Crusades.

Originally "lingua franca" referred to a mix of mostly Italian with a broad vocabulary drawn from Turkish, Persian, French, Greek and Arabic. This mixed language (pidgin, creole language) was used for communication throughout the medieval and early modern Middle East as a diplomatic language;

I had no idea of any of this...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Just in case it wasn't clear bob, I was trying to be light hearted. hope I didn't wind you or afew or anyone else up with my statements.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 08:47:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
metatone...everythings cool!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 09:43:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree 100% with what you said.  It is just common sense.  

alohapolitics.com
by Keone Michaels on Wed Jan 25th, 2006 at 11:44:11 AM EST


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