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md_ wrote

Well, I am not from or live in the West, so the concept of "settler colony" and "indigenous language" doesn't directly apply without redefinitions, but I am coming from the majority linguistic group of my region and my linguistic group has through its state policies done a lot of damage to another regional language: I've thought of doing this, and I didn't because of scheduling difficulties. I would give it a shot again next year.

Generally I think it's a good thing to learn "minority"/"marginalised"/"indigenous" languages. But I am aware that some linguistic communities, at least in the context of Australia, are actually against outsides learning their endangered languages, because of the power imbalances it creates (considering that they themselves, because of colonialism, hadn't had the opportunity to become fluent in their heritage languages).

I haven't seen this stance expressed where I live though, and it's probably related to how the idea of "cultural appropriation" is also not directly applicable outside the West. If anything, they are angry at their grandchildren for not being interested in learning a language of less than 500 elderly speakers.

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ziq wrote (edited )

It's too bad we can't go back to our original language, before conflicting empires imparted their languages on us and created permanent divisions between those who chose one language and those who chose the other.

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md_ wrote

It's too bad we can't go back to our original language

I don't know how back you are thinking here. It's more likely (although probably unprovable either way), that there was never one original language. Nor it seems like it's possible to keep a language from diverging into radically different languages as time passes.

permanent divisions between those who chose one language and those who chose the other

I wouldn't take such a pessimistic stance. It's true that language politics caused a lot of long lasting damage (from cultural genocide, to personal trauma), but we still have this amazing capacity for learning many new languages, so the divisions don't have to be permanent.

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ziq wrote (edited )

We now know we migrated here from the mainland (Syria/Lebanon), so it's likely we originally spoke a language from there, and it slowly morphed into the Eteocypriot language, before being (forcibly) supplanted after Hellenism, Venetianism, Ottomanism, Britishism, and all the other invading colonialists made their mark, and very deliberately set us against each other (for example, the British making one group the exclusive police force and ordering them to fuck up the other group, or the Ottomans heavily taxing one group but not the other to get people to switch cultures).

but we still have this amazing capacity for learning many new languages

I think adopting a common language, maybe a blend of the 2 (which we pretty much already have, to some extent) is the way forward.

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md_ wrote

I won't cry over Eteocypriot. We know next to nothing about it, and we can't ever learn it. It's not really "the original language" of the region, let alone the world (which was my initial interpretation of your comment, Proto-Human/World), it's just an arbitrary point in time that happens to be the earliest with written records on the island and that's why we named it "Eteocypriot".

I also don't really buy the stigmatisation of languages that followed as "colonial". Since all of them are colonial, none of them really is. It's just useless as an analytical category, in this context.

I think adopting a common language, maybe a blend of the 2 (which we pretty much already have, to some extent) is the way forward.

Spanish and Chinese? :P

I don't see the point. Language policies aren't enacted without violence, nor they succeed in achieving what they set out to achieve. And you cannot stop language change, like you cannot stop descent with modification. Create an international auxland today, get a dozen divergent varieties a year later.

I would put my effort in organising second language learning classes in autonomous social centres, and creating translation task-forces inside the milieu.

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ziq wrote (edited )

I think as long as people that share one land speak different languages, it will be used by hostile external forces to set them against each other. Divide and conquer has been every imperialist's MO.

Language is the biggest divider because we literally don't understand each other. You could force everyone to learn both languages, but that would only work in times of stability where everyone is affluent and educated. As soon as drought, hunger or invasion hits, everything is up in the air. With climate change hitting the region hard, things will get a lot harder to control.

The languages merging could take generations, but I think it's the best hope for lasting peace in the future.

Not that we have any control over it - wasn't suggesting it be a gov policy, just a natural evolution.

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md_ wrote (edited )

You could force everyone

Here you have it. That's why I don't consider going "back to the original language", or "establishing a common language".

That's why my proposal is to make the option available, and to be prepared to accommodate speakers of other languages, by translating stuff from one language to the other.

The languages merging

That's not something that happens to natural languages. The closest thing would be creolisation, but that's something that happens in those rare circumstances where there is no common language, and a dire need to communicate. That's not the case in most of the world, because multilingualism is the norm.

Generally, I think that people are attributing too much responsibility to language. Language politics are just an epiphenomenon. Look at former Yugoslavia for a clear cut example. It's not language that divided them. Nationalism did, and only as a consequence they came to think of Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin as different languages.

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ziq wrote (edited )

Good points. I'm not sure about languages not merging though; our dialect is very different from mainland Greek and contains countless Turkish words and influences already. But I'm no linguist.

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md_ wrote

English is not French, and Japanese is not Chinese, despite heavy borrowing of vocabulary stock from those languages.

Simplifying greatly, a language is the vocabulary + the unconscious language-specific rules to put words into sentences + culturally-dependant nuances on top of the literal meaning.

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