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Wchao37and Tianyuanedu world language policy thread (all others are welcome) [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-7-23 08:53:41 |Display all floors
I'm starting this thread to discuss what I consider the serious issue of English-language imperialism in the world today, and am inviting all (and especially Wchao37 since I know that though we may not see eye to eye on the details, he shares similar concerns) to discuss your views on what you think would be the most just world language policy, taking into account the need for language diversity and also the need for a common medium of intercourse.

I know there are different views on the subject. Among them:

The adoption of a hegemonic ethnic language. English as the language of aeronautical communication is a perfect example of this, giving native English-speakers and the elites who have the opportunity to learn it a distinct advantage over others in the industry, not to mention the psychological impact on countless children worldwide who dream of becoming pilots or ATCs, having no choice but to submit to this assymetrical relationship to the native English-speakers

Multilingualism. The UN's use of six official languages, or the EUs of over 20 are examples of these. If a few languages are chosen, as is the case at the UN, some language communities become more privileged than others, whereby countries like China and Canada have translation into their languages included in their contributions, whereas less fortunate ones must take money out of their own national budgets if they wish to translate any UN decument into their own languages, auch as Korean, Japanese, etc. not to mention that this is highly expensive too, running into the millions of dollars annually in translation and interpretation costs (worldwide, it can run into the trillions of dollars annually!). And if all languages are recognized, it's even more expensive for an organization.

Esperantism. Few organizations have chosen this root, and most of them are NGOs, and maybe very few and very small businesses. It essentially involves the creation of an easy-to-learn common second language to put all on an equal footing, thus saving time and money on transaltion costs, rputting an equal burden on all to learn a common second language, and saving time in second-language learning that can then be reinvested in the development of the mother tongue, the ease of the language also eliminating elitism as any person can learn the language to fluency within a few hundred hours of self-instruction.
四海之内皆兄弟
-孔子

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Post time 2009-7-23 09:05:56 |Display all floors
My personal preference is Esperantism owing to its being equitable without sacrificing efficiency. One area where I could see China taking a lead would be in:

1. Recommending to the UN that it gather experts from around the world to adopt, revise, or create a language that would be easy for all to learn, to then be gradually introduced into the UN and the world's school systems as a common second language. Granted, some NGOs have made this proposal to the UN already on a number of occasions, and some nation-states have hinted at a similar idea in UNESCO; but China could still be the first nation-state to make the proposal at the UN.

2. Granting each school in China the freedom to teach the second-language of its choice, while adding Esperanto or some other international auxiliary language to the list of languages from which schools could choose. Internatioal Sign and Chinese Sign Language could be languages worth considering too, as some pupils could make use of them with deaf friends and family members.

3. Require all foreigners born on or after a certain date, and who have reached the age of fifteen, to pass a test in Chinese, Chinese Sign Language, International Sign, or Esperanto or some other international auxiliary language that is easy for the Chinese to learn, in order to be granted the freedom to enter the country. This would help shift the language burden from the local Chinese population to a middle-ground, thus requiring the foreigner to meet the local Chinese at least half-way in their communicative endeavours, thus making the exchange more just. I believe China is now powerful enough thatit could do this.
四海之内皆兄弟
-孔子

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Post time 2009-7-23 09:19:01 |Display all floors
In fact, I'd like to add that we could even say that when the Chinese government makes English compulsory in its school systems, it's essentially interfering in the internal affairs of English-speaking countries.

In Canada, for example, the issue of immigrant integration is a major one. French Canadians often object to the fact that many immigrants, even in Quebec, would choose to integrate to the English-speaking community. The only reason they can't easily do it in Quebec anymore is owing to Quebec's Bill 101. Without it, Montreal would be completely English-speaking today, in part due to the hegemony of English abroad.

I would say we could even make it a general statement that when a Ministry of Education makes a foreign ethnic language compulsory in its schools, it is in fact interfering in the affairs of the countries to which that language belongs, owing to the demographic impact that policy has on that foreign nation. I would not extend this to a school, however, as it's clear that a school may have to make a certain language compulsory for basic logistical reasons; but such a policy should not extend beyond the school itself, each school adoptimg the language that most fits its needs. I would also not extend this to international auxiliary languages such as Esperanto or International Sign, as they belong to all nations, and are not affiliated with any particular ethnic group or nation, since they are constructed languages.
四海之内皆兄弟
-孔子

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Post time 2009-7-23 09:34:53 |Display all floors

Here's the crux

My main concern, in a nutshell if you will, is that there are 56 nationalities in China each with its traditions to preserve and its cultural mores to protect, which makes learning their own written language a priority.

Where there wasn't any such written language, the Chinese government has used the phonetic system to make one for that particular minority.

That already entails a great deal of resources in terms of manpower and others, and China is only a developing country.

In contrast, not a single developed country has such a policy respecting the privilege of minorities to learn their own written languages as a part of his rights as a human being, even though these countries pay lip service to the human rights issue all the time.   For example, Chinese students in the States are not required to study Chinese, and students of other ethnicities likewise are not encouraged to study their native languages.

German, French, Japanese, Italian, Spanish and now increasingly the Chinese language are offered as electives in the high school and college curricula, but it is not obligatory for the students to learn their native tongues.

China, in contrast, has a system in place in which minorities are encouraged to study their own native tongues by instilling pride in the students for such studies.  For example, a Tibetan student not only receives 9 years of compulsory education in Chinese, but also an additional 3 years in the Tibetan language.

Such projects are expensive because they involve millions of students, mountains of material and didactic resources.

No other government does that.

When the Russians went into and controlled Afghanistan from 1979-89, their enforced the study of Russian only amongst the Afghans, and high level officials were sent to Moscow for special training.  The Afghans' own language was ignored.

So establishing a universal language using the Western-derived alphabet amongst nations already over-burdened or mired down by their educational system may not be the most practical way to solve the basic communication problem amongst nations.

Like I had said in the past, I think technological advances will eventually help us to solve the problem.  Although gadgets are already available for this purpose, they aren't widely available or affordable for the majority of the world's citizens.

But that day will come.

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Post time 2009-7-23 09:50:10 |Display all floors
my simple question to u people out there:-

why did SHIH HUANG TI insists that PUTONGHUA

MUST BE USED ALL OVER GREAT CHINA???
What's on your mind now........ooooooooooooooo la la....Kind Regards

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Post time 2009-7-23 10:38:15 |Display all floors
I posted a reply to Wchao37 but the system didn't take. I hope it will show up tomorrow.

In response to CaringHK.

You're quesiton there is an internal matter for China. What I'm more interested in here is how China's second-language teaching policy impacts other countries, and how to formulate an international language polu=icy that will put all coutnries on a more equal footing on the international stage.
四海之内皆兄弟
-孔子

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Post time 2009-7-23 10:49:27 |Display all floors
Originally posted by tianyuanedu at 2009-7-23 09:05
Require all foreigners born on or after a certain date, and who have reached the age of fifteen, to pass a test in Chinese, Chinese Sign Language, International Sign, or Esperanto or some other international auxiliary language that is easy for the Chinese to learn, in order to be granted the freedom to enter the country. .


Surely you are not talking about tourists, as this would spell the end of foreign tourism to China without any real gain.  A billion dollar industry and oppurtunity to spread chinese culture should not require much from its sheep.

So I will go to students and expats.
First students, about half the foreigners in China are students.  They have come here to learn Chinese or to pursue a degree.  Requiring students who want to learn Chinese to already speak chinese before they can enter the country is self defeating.  If you had a program like this then less foreigners would be learning chinese not more.

Secondly expats, If you had a rule like this many foreigners, some of them highly qualified in their fields would not be able to come to the country and teach their skills depriving chinese people the skills and experience they need.  On the other hand for expats like me, my salary would go up.  With less foreigners coming to the country, the demand for them would be higher and that would cause their pay to rise.  



Is that what you want, foreigners getting more money in China?

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