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Minority Languages

Andrew Dowling writes: "This is part of the manifesto for the "Foundation forEndangered Languages". It seems a very reasonable text to me" There follows a long extract talking about incalculable cultural loss. I am unconvinced. It reminds me of a French conservative who objected to the metric system because it did away with the good old measures. There are still Americans and English who feel that way. Some English view "pintofbeer" as a sacred formula. I suppose they want to go back to the poles, rods and perches which were the bane of my primary education. There are great economic costs, as when NASA calculated one item in inches rather than meters, with the resultant loss of of a space vessel. Different railroad gauges are the bane of some countries.

It is this mentality which urges "leave your speech alone!", encouraging a variety of English accents I cannot understand, and grammar which wreaks centuries of creating a uniform standard. It is not that I am a reactionary. I want a total revision of English spelling (EuroEnglish?), but intelligently, without anarchy. Anarchy tempts people who dislike law and order, but I regard it as a threat. Time is money, and school time is very valuable. Should children be taught in a minority language, reducing their ability to write in a major language, thereby closing doors to employment outside of their own area, and robbing them of time which should be used on the skills which are necessary in the modern world? Should Mexican children be taught in Nahuatl or Maya? Give Andean children the choice of Quechua, Aymara, or some other language? It may be necessary now. To a considerable extent, time and the survival of the fittest will solve this problem.

Ronald Hilton - 5/4/01