“Some Languages Are Just Not Good Enough” – Ray Harlow
LANGUAGES THAT ARE NOT OFTEN USED ARE SEEN AS INFERIOUR ALTHOUGH THEY HAVE STOPPED BEING USED BECAUSE THEY DONT HAVE CERTAIN WORDS THAT RELATE TO MODERN PURPOSES. LANGUAGES THAT HAVE CHANGED IN TIME WITH CHANGES IN SOCIETY ARE SEEN AS SUPERIOR…
He argues that languages that have new words are seen as more important and if some languages are no good for certain purposes it makes them inferior.
HOWEVER He argues that some languages may have no need to discuss certain topics, and therefore there is no need for new words within that language.
- The Maori language in New Zealand.
- Cicero using Latin to address the thoughts of Greeks.
- The “Romansh” Language.
- Modern English is the same Language as Old English, just later.
MAORI LANGUAGE IN NEW ZEALAND:
- Maori is the indigenous Polynesian language of New Zealand, the minority language against English, which is the first language of New Zealand.
- Maori is only spoken between 12% of a 3million person population.
- Social change in New Zealand overtime has caused Maori to be used less and less.
- The media use it often and it is the language at many schools, to try and get more people to use it.
- However, many people believe it is not capable of being used for teaching at a basic level etc.
Proves Harlow’s point that some languages have not yet adapted to changes in technology and social changes and therefore are seen as inferior.
- He was a politician and philosopher of the first century.
- Composed his work in Latin to make Greek philosophy available in a Latin speaking audience and to show that it was possible.
- This was because some of his contemporaries were sceptical about the possibility that Latin was able to express the ideas of the Greeks. To them, Latin was just not good enough.
- In the end Latin went on to be the language of scholarship, science, international diplomacy and literature for well over a million years.
- He made gave certain Latin words technical meanings. E.g. “ratio” that now means “reason” and is commonly used in English.
Implies that no language should be seen as inferior, and this opinion can be corrected by creating new words to keep up with the social changes and changes in technology etc.
MODERN DAY AND OLD ENGLISH
- Modern English is the same as Old English, just later.
- Old English was not used to discuss Computers, so therefore Modern English shouldn’t be allowed for this use.
- English has developed the resources needed to discuss computers and other topics unknown in Older English Times.
- It also has provided a way of combining this vocabulary to make statements and sentences etc.
Even though some languages have developed new words for technology, they should not be seen as the superior language and any language can create new words.
- Spoken in the South-East of Switzerland, although Germans have moved in over the past.
- Language descended from Latin and Roman.
- Although German can ‘compound’ words to form new ones, Romansh is not able to do this and instead makes up phrases in replacement of new words.
- There has been a push to get more people to speak Romansh.
- Some speakers of it do not believe it is not good enough to be used in really technical areas of life because “German is able to construct clearly defined single words for technical ideas, Romansh is not.”
- Again supports the idea that some languages who cannot develop as times change are seen as inferior. People who speak Romansh have said themselves that because the German Language has created words that can be used for technology etc. Compared to Romansh that can only make phrases, this language is seen as the inferior as it cannot be used in all areas of life.
- “It is the argument that X is not good enough because you can’t discuss nuclear physics in it.” Relates to the main argument that languages (X) are not good enough than others because you cannot talk about certain things, as no words have been developed for this use.
- “The view confuses a feature of languages which is due just to their history with an inherent property of languages.” Some languages have no need to develop new words, as people do not need to discuss certain topics in that language.
- “Not all languages have the same vocabulary” He argues this is true because some languages do not talk about the same things as others.
- “They are all capable of expressing the same range of structural meaning” This argues that no language can be seen as inferior for any reason, they all have a way of talking about specific things using different structures. This relates to the Romansh example where, they use phrases to talk about new ideas German has words for.
- “If we look at the languages spoken in the world today, we notice very wide differences in the use to which they are put” This is the first line of the text, it implies some languages may be inferior due to their purpose.