The Common Tongue of Our Descendants – By Joshua Hehe

The Common Tongue of Our Descendants

By Joshua Hehe – April 17, 2017 – The Futurist Files – medium.com

At the moment there are roughly seven thousand languages in use across the planet. Currently, the most prevalent language in the world is Chinese. However, this hasn’t really spread out past the borders of China, and very few people speak Chinese as a second language. Today, Spanish has more native speakers than English, but French is actually becoming more widespread. It is spoken in Canada and parts of Africa, as well as many other countries besides France.    

Nonetheless, English is a powerful contender for international dominance. Right now there are only about 360 million native English speakers, but there are also 500 million more who use it as a second language. English is presently spoken in more than one hundred different countries too, unlike Arabic which is only little more than half of that.  [Read more]

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  • Clyde Duncan  On April 23, 2017 at 4:40 am

    I agree with Joshua Hehe on this matter. The one recent irritation I have – but I must accept – is the change from “disconcerting” to “concerning” … how I hate semi-literate English speakers.

    But dat is what makes English the most diverse; gender-neutral; growing and acceptable form of communication on the planet.

  • demerwater  On April 24, 2017 at 10:07 am

    There was a poem – Triumph of the English Language. It was in a “Royal Reader”, Bk V – I think. It supposedly touched every country where English was spoken. “Along the banks of the mighty Essequibo where eternal summer reigns”, my father would quote to me.
    There was this ongoing argument between us. “Royal Reader” – from his schooldays; “West Indian Reader” – from mine.
    He was 36 years old; and I, 21 years younger, when we bonded – joyfully in competition. He would memorize “The first vision of Mirza” and I, the poem “Elegy …. ” by Thomas Gray.
    We took ‘spells’ quizzing each other.
    Every once in a while, I miss him – terribly!

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 24, 2017 at 10:43 am

    A World Empire by Other Means – [Adapted The Economist Dec 2001]

    The new world language seems to be good for everyone—except the speakers of minority tongues, and native English-speakers too perhaps

    IT IS everywhere. 1) _____. A billion are learning it, about a third of the world’s population are in some sense exposed to it and by 2050, it is predicted, half the world will be more or less proficient in it. It is the language of globalisation — of international business, politics and diplomacy. It is the language of computers and the Internet. You’ll see it on posters in Côte d’Ivoire, you’ll hear it in pop songs in Tokyo, you’ll read it in official documents in Phnom Penh. Deutsche Welle broadcasts in it. Bjork, an Icelander, sings in it. French business schools teach in it. 2) _____. Truly, the tongue spoken back in the 1300s only by the “low people” of England, as Robert of Gloucester put it at the time, has come a long way. It is now the global language.

    Why? 3) _____. True, genders are simple, since English relies on “it” as the pronoun for all inanimate nouns, reserving masculine for bona fide males and feminine for females (and countries and ships). But the verbs tend to be irregular, the grammar bizarre and the match between spelling and pronunciation a nightmare. English is now so widely spoken in so many places that numerous versions have evolved, some so peculiar that even “native” speakers may have trouble understanding each other. But if only one version existed, that would present difficulties enough. 4) _____. John Simmons, a language consultant for Interbrand, likes to cite the word “set”, an apparently simple word that takes on different meanings in a sporting, cooking, social or mathematical context—and that is before any little words are combined with it. Then, as a verb, it becomes “set aside”, “set up”, “set down”, “set in”, “set on”, “set about”, “set against” and so on, terms that “leave even native speakers bewildered about [its] core meaning.”

    As a language with many origins — Romance, Germanic, Norse, Celtic and so on — English was destined to be untidy. But its elasticity makes it untidier, as well as stronger. 5) _____. Every year publishers bring out new dictionaries listing neologisms galore. The past decade, for instance, has produced not just a multitude of words for the Internet, computers and telecommunications (“browsers”, “downloading”, “texting” and so on) but quantities of teen-speak (“fave”, “fit”, “pants”, “phat”, “sad”). 6) _____. Those who stand guard over the French language, by contrast, agonise for years over whether to allow CD-Rom (no, it must be cédérom), frotte-manche, a Belgian word for a sycophant (sanctioned), or Euroland (no, the term is la zone euro). Oddly, shampooing (unknown as a noun in English) seemed to pass the French Academy unanimously, perhaps because the British had originally taken “shampoo” from Hindi.

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 24, 2017 at 10:44 am

    Insert the sentences below into the numbered spaces in the text. (There is one more sentence than you need):

    a) Even everyday English is a language of subtlety, nuance and complexity

    b) It is the medium of expression in cabinet meetings in Bolivia

    c) Some 380m people speak it as their first language and perhaps two-thirds as many again as their second

    d) And so does English.

    e) All are readily received by English, however much some traditionalists may resist them

    f) When it comes to new words, English puts up few barriers to entry

    g) Not because English is easy

  • Clyde Duncan  On April 24, 2017 at 10:52 am

    ANSWERS:

    1) c 2) b 3) g 4) a 5) f 6) e

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On April 26, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    In the Economist 2001 article, quote: “As a language with many origins — Romance, Germanic, Norse, Celtic and so on…”, as happens regularly, even in so-called objective media there is a huge bias against India and Indian origins of significant civilizational achievements.
    What is missing in the quote is Sanskrit! In fact, it is the most significant or at least as significant as the listed languages.
    Here is proof (per Justice Wm Jones, 1786; even though others had seen the link 200 years earlier):
    “The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek, more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists. ”
    http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/sanskrit.htm

    And, ”
            A. L. Basham, former professor of Asian Civilization in the Australian national University, Canberra, writes in his book The Wonder That Was India (page 390): “One of ancient India’s greatest achievements is her remarkable alphabet, commencing with the vowels and followed by the consonants, all classified very scientifically according to their mode of production, in sharp contrast to the haphazard and inadequate Roman alphabet, which has developed organically for three millennia. It was only on the discovery of Sanskrit by the West that a science of phonetics arose in Europe.”
            Basham goes on to say (page 509): “It will be seen that this alphabet is methodical and scientific, its elements classified first into vowels and consonants, and then, within each section, according to the manner in which the sound is formed. The gutturals are formed by the construction of the throat at the back of the tongue, the palatals by pressing the tongue flat against the palate, the retro-flexes by turning up the tip of the tongue to touch the hard palate, the dentals by touching the upper teeth with the tongue, and the labials by pursuing the lips.”
            Furthermore, Sanskrit or remnants of it can be found in so many other languages around the world, that a person can begin to say that it may have been the original language that the world first new. In almost all languages, like Greek, French, English, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Indian, Mayan, Slavic, Russian, and the Sanskrit derivatives like Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, or Malayalam, Sanskrit words are found everywhere. Either Sanskrit-speaking people carried them all over the world, or Sanskrit was the one world or main language, traces of which linger in all languages around the planet
    http://www.stephen-knapp.com/sanskrit_its_importance_to_language.htm

    Clearly, if it “more perfect…” it is only logical that it must be the ‘mother’ of these languages while her progeny would lose some of the ‘science’ and ‘exquiteness’. But the Eurocentric & Christian scholars still speculate about a mythical progenitor so asnot to credit ‘heathen’ Hindus. Yes, the Christian scholars, including Wm Jones, decided that Hindus were ‘fallen brethren’ from the Christian path ( were children of the cursed Ham) and needed to be civiized (ie., Christianized).

    So, Sanskrit will seldom ever get its due deserts. As can be seen in the two links all the Romannce languages – Greek, Latin, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Romaninan, et al – plus Celtic, German, Russian, Lithuanian, Gothic, etc all are derived (to some degree) from Sanskrit. So, it is not just ‘Shampoo’ from Hindi, but even the last four months of the year – September, October, November, December. The chart in the first link on the first 10 numeric digits show this, even though the spelling follows Latin since before Julius Caesar & Cleopatra’s time.
    But notice this critical point. Only the first part of the months (Septem, Octo, Novem, Decem) are accounted for. What about the suffixes ‘ber’ or ‘mber’? As it turns out, ‘amber’ means ‘sky’ or ‘stars’ in Sanskrit ! The twelve months of the year is because of the 12 ‘month’ Zodiac (based on the groups of Stars the Sun passes thru). Other months such as July and August were named after Julius and Augustus; March from Mars, Roman god of war……

    So, English, from her various sources has many Sanskrit origins (often referred to as Indo-Germanic or Indo-European) which are glossed over or go unmentioned.

    Veda Nath Mohabir.

  • demerwater  On April 27, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Speech and language separate human beings from all other creatures.
    They are enabling factors in our communicating with each other.
    Language can be used as a barrier to our communications with each other.
    I could tell when my elders were in “adult conversation”. They spoke Hindi;
    and Sanskrit had a rather “snob overtone”. It was as if the learned castes wanted to keep the lesser mortals out of the world of the “Veda’s” “Upanishads” and such uplifting literature. I detect a similar attitude towards Greek – a language of the Philosophers and pioneers of science – in the days of old.
    I gleaned this latter idea from conversations with my uncle – a well read Pandit.
    And I wish to state that the foregoing are all my opinions; for which only I, am responsible.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On April 27, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    “The language Sanskrit was once used as a lingua franca all over the nation during the ancient and medieval era. Most of the inscriptions of those days  were in Sanskrit and those inscriptions were found in large numbers in Tamil Nadu, said Dr Chitra Madhavan, a noted historian, here on Thursday.”
    http://www.hinduhumanrights.info/sanskrit-once-a-lingua-franca-of-kings-across-all-india/

    Native (Hindu) Indian rulers lost out to the foreign invaders rulers (i.e. the Moslem Sultans and the Mughals who were then eclipsed the British). These foreigners played groups against each other (divide and rule strategy). At the same time the Sanskrit “lingua franca” lost its prominence for the common man. Also, the Vedas and Upanishads are texts with deep and especially the Vedas having multi-level meanings often with written as formulaic (forerunner of western quantuum mechanics) Some noted theoretical physicists have noted this.
    So, the common man would not easily understand these texts. It is often why a religious seeker/devotee, especially a ‘newbie’ as are many westerners, need a guru to lead them through Hinduism deep philosophical tracts.

    VM.

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