LANGUAGE AS NATIONALISM • Language can be a barrier is when groups of people cannot agree on a common language or when the group with more power enforces the use of its language or even when the spread of a language to common use around a region also means the spreading influence of the culture native to that language. Can a country survive with two equal or official languages? • Switzerland uses three: French, Italian, and Swiss German. In each Swiss canton, the official language is the language of the majority and each resident has to know it. Students usually study more than one language. The Swiss may use whichever language they prefer in federal matters as all three languages are treated equally. THE SPREAD OF ENGLISH • Of particular concern today is the spread of American English. • In early colonial days, some 5 mil- lion people spoke English. By 1930, the number had risen to 200 million. By the mid-1960s, counting those who used English as a second language, the number of people speaking English had doubled to 400 million. By 1990, that number had risen to about 750 million, or 1in every 7 people. • English is the native language in 12 countries and an official or semiofficial language in 33 others. Its study is required or popular in at least 56 other countries (see Figure 7.2). Consider this: An Argentine pilot landing in Turkey speaks to the air traffic controller in English. A German physicist publishes findings in English- language journals. • Japanese executives conduct business in Mexico in English. A high percentage of all information stored in computers is in English. It is the most widely studied and most borrowed-from language in the world. • English has grown to dominate in the areas of science, technology, commerce, tourism, diplomacy, and pop culture. Some 80% of the world's electronic databases and communications networks are in English. CNN International and MTV broadcast internationally in English. FRANCE • Resistance to English is strong in some countries. One notable example is France. Three and a half centuries ago, the Academie Frangaise was set up to protect the language. President Francois Mitterrand created the High Commission of the French Language, its charge being to introduce new French words to replace Franglais, or words mixing English and French such as "le weekend," "le fast food," and "tres cool." A new law makes the use of French obligatory in instruction manuals, legal contracts, scientific conferences, and all advertising. Japan • Japanese is Japan's official language. Educational and mass media systems use a "standard" Japanese based on the Tokyo dialect. Japanese and English are structur-ally very different. In Japanese, the verb comes at the end of the sentence and modifying clauses come before the words they modify. Although some words of English origin have been incorporated into the language, the vocabularies are not at all similar. • The Japanese experience their language in almost mystical terms. Membership in the group of Japanese language users is by race and by birth. Japanese study kokugo, or national language, whereas what foreigners learn is called nihongo, or Japanese language. Nihongo denotes a separate psychological and semantic domain based on a racial distinction of identification of the language with the culture. • The Japanese culture is reflected in many ways in the language. The value of harmony is reflected in that the language has at least 16 ways to avoid saying no and makes use of many aisatsu, or "lubricant expressions" that serve to reinforce feelings of interdependence and harmony. In Eng-lish, yes and no clearly mean acceptance and rejection. • In Japanese, however, where creating a mood is more important than the judgment, no is rarely used and yes may mean "I hear what you are saying" or even "Yes, but..." For example, in 1969, President Nixon asked Japanese Prime Minister Eisaka Sato to impose quotas on textile exports in exchange for the return of Okinawa. Sato replied, "Zensho shi-masu," which can mean "I'll take a proper step" or "I'll take a favorable action." • Sato meant no; Nixon's translators heard yes. Today though, that reluc-tance to say no may be fading. When President Clinton asked for measurable trade targets, Prime Minister Hosokawa said, "Totei doi dekimasen"—"There is no way I can agree with that." The differences between communication styles in the United States and Japan • may be described as follows: – Orientation to interaction – Code preference. – Interaction format. Orientation to interaction. • The United States places value on self- sufficiency and independence and objectivity, and cause-effect. Japan places more value on the interpersonal relationships with family, friends, and colleagues and accepts the reality that develops out of those relationships. Code preference. • The United States' diversity and the value placed on individualism correlate to a preference for making meanings clear in the verbal code and relying less on nonverbal meanings, whereas Japan's homogeneity and value placed on interdependence correlate to the importance placed on the nonverbal code. Silence, objects, and form are important in Japan. The Japanese have traditionally placed a high value on silence, believing that a person of few words is thoughtful, trustworthy, and respectable (Ishii, 1984). • Silence is highly desirable and valued more than eloquence. Hence the Japanese spend considerable less time in verbal communication than do people in the United States. Along with silence, ambiguity and vagueness play an important part in Japanese communication. In a homogeneous culture, people understand context messages. Spoken expressions of ideas and feelings are believed to upset group harmony. Interaction format. • Much of communication in the United States is pragmatic, quantitative, and persuasive. Much of communication in Japan, however, is process oriented for a holistic or harmonizing outcome. • When comparing Japanese communication style to American, one Japanese manager said, "The Japanese probably never will become gabby We're a homogeneous people and don't have to speak as much as you do here. When we say one word, we understand 10, but here you have to say 10 to understand one." • —Jim Kennedy and Anna Everest, "Put Diversity in Context," Personnellournal, 70(9), September 1991, p. 52 • Taken together these differences may explain why the Japanese often perceive self-disclosing communication as inappropriate in social relationships. They also show that the Japanese view harmony establishing or harmony main-taining as a dominant function of communication (Okabe, 1983). Communication is a means of seeking consensus and, as such, is by nature intuitive, emotional, and adaptive. CHINA • It's easy to assume that Chinese is the language of China. In fact, though, China has historically been a land of many diverse dialects. Standard Chinese, based on the Mandarin dialect, is the national language spoken by 70% of the population. Other spoken languages are Shanghaiese, Szu Chuanese, and Cantonese. • Spoken Cantonese is just about as different from the standard Chinese dialect as French is from English. The spoken dialects have from 400 to 800 monosyllabic word sounds, or vocables. Each vocable has from 4 to 9 tones so that its meaning is made to differ according to the manner in which it is said. Meaning is determined from tone, gestures, and context. • The government has been promoting Mandarin as the standard for all of China. It has been reported that the Ministry of Commerce and the State Language Commission have ordered the use of standard Mandarin (Putonghua, or "ordinary language") for commercial workers across the country by 1998. • English was once forbidden in China. Now it seems everyone is learning English. SOUTH AFRICA • The first Dutch settlement on the southern tip of Africa dates back to 1652 with the arrival of Dutch, German, and French Huguenot immigrants (later known as Afrikaners or as Boers by the British). Dutch became the official language of that colony, but within 150 years it had been replaced with Afrikaans, perhaps the world's youngest language and the only Germanic language born outside Europe. • Afrikaans was derived from 17th-century Dutch and reflects the influences of Malay, Portuguese, German, French, English, and native African languages. It represents a cultural tradition of self-sufficiency and Calvinist morality. For many years, speakers of Afrikaans were the oppressed under British colonial rule. But in 1925, Afrikaans joined English as the country's two official languages and from then on earned the reputation among Blacks as the language of oppression. The most widely known word in the Afrikaans vocabulary is • apartheid—literally apart-hood or separateness— government-sanctioned segregation of racial and ethnic groups that ended with Nelson Mandela's election in 1994. • The most commonly spoken languages in South Africa are Zulu (8.5 million of the country's 41 million people) and Xhosa, followed by Afrikaans, Tswana, Northern Sotho, English (perceived as the language of colonial heritage), and Southern Sotho. The multitude of languages became a major factor in developing a new constitution. English and Afrikaans will now join nine others as official languages. CANADA • The situation in Canada is unique. More than 200 years ago, Canada's French settlers were defeated by the British army on a Quebec field called the Plains of Abraham. New France then became British, but the French settlers were permitted to maintain their language (French) and religion (Roman Catholicism). • Through the years Quebec has maintained a vision of itself as a French-speaking society. In the 1950s, Quebec began to protest the use of English. • In response, the federal government appointed the Royal Commission on Bilingual-ism and Biculturalism. The commission first recommended that Canadians of French origin be brought into full partici-pation in Canadian life and later included all other cultural groups. In 1971, the prime minister announced officially that Canada would be bilingual and multicultural. • Officially a two-language country, Canada continues to deal with a strong separatist movement in Quebec. Quebec has never ratified the Canadian constitution in that it is believed it fails to protect the province's minority French language and culture. In 1977, Quebec established a French-only policy enforced by 400 "language police." • Its inhabitants refer to the rest of Canada as "English Canada," and there has even been talk of Quebec's withdrawing horn English-speaking Canada. In 1992, 54% of voters rejected proposed constitutional reforms that would have provided greater autonomy for Quebec and self- government for aboriginal peoples. INDIA • A more extreme case is India, the world's second most populated country—and soon to be the world's largest. India is a country of a multiplicity of languages as well as religions, castes, and living conditions. India's people speak 20 major languages and hundreds of dialects. Hindi and English are spoken throughout India. • Following independence in 1947, Hindi was slated to become the national language in 1965. But as 1965 approached, the use of Hindi had not spread. Hindi speakers concentrated in the north claim that English is elitist and a holdover from the colonial past. English speakers largely in the south argue that Hindi as an official language would exclude those who don't speak it. • English, on the other hand, would at least give everyone an equal handicap. • From among India's officially recognized languages, individual states are free to adopt their own language of administration and education. Every citizen has the right to petition the government in any of the official languages. UNITED STATES • Whereas Canada has two official languages and India many, the United States has none. Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution provide for an official language. At the time of independence, the second language in the United States was a form of German known as Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German. Half the population of Pennsylvania spoke German. • After independence, there have been times when some have pressed to make English the official language of the United States. In the 1870s, faced with large numbers of Chinese immigrants, California considered English-only laws. • Later, with the large number of central and southeastern Europe immigrants at the turn of the century, the United States made oral English a requirement for naturalization. Still later, during and after World War I, anti-German sentiment led some states to ban German. Those laws were declared unconstitutional. During World War II, German-speaking residents of the United States experienced humiliation and insult because of their accents. • The United States has had a long history of non- English immigrants. In 1848, Cincinnati, Ohio, had the first bilingual school to serve the German-American community. In the early 1900s, a dozen states had bilingual education, with at least 4% of students receiving all or part of their instruction in German. By 1920, three fourths of the population of some cities were foreign born. Several cities and states printed some official documents in languages other than English (Crawford, 1992). • Before 1980, only two states had official- English laws: Nebraska in 1920 and Illinois in 1923. But in the 1980s, the official- English movement became active, due in large part to the large numbers of Hispanic immigrants, some of whom have not assimilated as quickly as earlier immigrants. In Miami it is said that it is possible to live a full life without ever learning English. • A 1992 amendment to the federal Voting Rights Act requires counties to supply voting materials for Hispanic, Asian- American, American Indian, and Alaskan minority groups that number 10,000 or more, speak little or no English, and have a literacy rate below the national average. Immigrant children are even taught the Pledge of Allegiance in foreign languages. • The other side of the spread of English is the weakening and disappearance of languages. The Hawaiian language and culture, for example, is on the verge of extinction. The same can be said of some indigenous Native American languages. The Hawaiians had no written language. Centuries of his-tory, genealogies, legends, and religious teachings were passed from generation to generation orally. The Situation in Hawaii • New England Christian missionaries who first arrived in 1820 devised a written lan-guage based on five vowels and seven consonants (h, k, 1, m, n, p, and w). The glottal stop, the short break between the pronunciation of two vowels, was acknowledged but not denoted. It later became marked with the "back-ward apostrophe" as in u'ina, the word for glottal stop. • The written language that was developed by the mis-sionaries was not Hawaiian as the Hawaiians knew it; it reflected what the New England English speakers perceived. After the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893 by U.S. sugar planters and businessmen, Hawaii became a republic and sought admission to the United States. The Hawaiian language was officially suppressed when the United States annexed the islands. Public school regulations written at the turn of the century prohibited the use of Hawaiian in the schools. • By 1990, only about 1,000 native Hawaii speakers remained, and 200 of those live on Niihau, the privately owned island that is home to the last self-contained community of full-blooded Hawaiians. Ex-cept for a few popular phrases and for Hawaiian songs, the language is seldom used. Nonetheless, at the 1978 constitutional convention Hawaiian was made an official language of the state along with English. • Recognizing that the loss of the language also means the loss of the culture, Hawaiians started a private preschool language immersion program in 1984. In 1986, the state legislature lifted the century-old ban on schools teaching only in Hawaiian. The language immersion program then spread to the public school system. • Controversy surrounds the program: Some argue the program is a chance to save their language and recapture a lost cultural identity. Others argue that it is a first step to a separated society like the French in Canada. Support for that argument is found in the movement for the formation of native Hawaiian government within the framework of United States laws along the lines of other indigenous groups. Loss of Native American Languages • In colonial times, as many as 500 indigenous languages were spoken in North America. Today, only about 200 remain, with Navajo having the most speakers, approximately 148,530. From the 1860s until about the 1950s, federal policy and local practice combined to discour-age and eliminate American Indian languages from schools and public settings. • In the 1920s, students in federal boarding schools were beaten for using their own language. Yet during World War II, the United States Marines used Navajo "code talkers" at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima; the Japanese were never able to decipher signals encoded in their language. • In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Native American Language Act, legislation sponsored by Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye. The act endorses the preservation of indigenous languages and encourages the use of Native American languages as languages of instruction. The languages remain used in tribal politics and religious ceremonies and on radio stations. It was said that movement to make English the official U.S. language mobilized many tribes in the recognition that linguistic survival is the same as cultural or tribal survival. Puerto Rico and Statehood • Another story is being played out in Puerto Rico where the official language has been a part of the argument over statehood. The island was made a U.S. commonwealth after Spain ceded it to the United States in 1898. Spanish was made the island's official language in 1991 with the backing of statehood opponents. Proponents of statehood were successful in passing a new law in 1993 that made English and Spanish official languages of the territory. EUROPE • The European Community has acted to respect regional language diversity. Up to 50 million people speak minority languages in Western Europe. One of the more well known is Welsh, which remains in daily use in Wales where public information signs are in both Welsh and English. Breton is used in northwestern France. Catalan, Basque, and Galician are used in Spain; in fact, Catalan was an official language of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The Basque language Euskera is unrelated to any other European language and therefore is • likely very old. With mountains providing geographical isolation and with increasing political independence from Madrid, the use of Euskera is growing. The European Community funds organizations that pro-tect minority languages; one of these, the Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, provides a bridge between various language associations and the EC. • Many of the world's 6,000 languages are on the verge of extinction. More than half of these are no longer learned by children and therefore will disappear. Only about 10% of the world's languages are spoken by more than 100,000 people. The loss of any language means the loss of most of the culture who spoke it and the loss of the knowledge that culture had about its world codified in its language.
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