The Grim Repair


Viikko 14


Motion: THW ease the plight of small languages by giving them sovereignty and/or govt. grants and assistance worldwide
Role: Chair (opp.)
Date: Aug 11th, 2013

Dear Assemblage, Chair, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’d like to talk about ”Linguistic Death?”, which is the overarching rubric of my speech.

I was listening to a well-known TV personality speak about the doom and gloom and death of world languages in the nearest future, leading to the demise of about a half of the world’s 5,600 languages, most of which do not have the support of a working nation-state, printing presses and academia on their side. Namely, it seems that a language should have at least those three things to shore it up in order to make it a viable, vigorous rival in the contest for linguistic livability in the future. After all, most languages are just emotional crutches to their speakers, and they do not fulfill any other criteria.

I speak four languages, half of which are big and thriving and the other half globally speaking provincial and small, even though the latter do have those assets of academia, printing presses and nation-states behind them. I do not think that there are any thoughts in my head that I could not express in one of the said languages. So language(s) do not restrict my thinking (as I do it entirely on my own through mind-restricting substances or other factors). These languages are differing mutually, so that each one of them would cover a slightly distinct terrain in terms of usability. All have been coined and used by the white race, so in that sense they are all alike. But, at least the languages I speak have been able to incorporate e.g. the digital revolution with all its lexemes into their lexicon. The same cannot be said about tribal languages spoken in the jungle, where the colours of different parrots may play a bigger role, in all likelihood, when it comes to linguistic concerns.

What is more, there will also be enough to explore in those Four for the rest of my life, as there will always be hundreds of words that I do not already know, the learning of which would enrich my delivery, and make it smoother and more pleasing to the native ears respectively. What do I do with the riches and pleasures of strange, unknown languages when there are already enough riches in those at the same time familiar but foreign languages that I know?

People do not have the BALLS to say out loud that ”I do not care about the linguistic Holocaust/extinction/genocide”. Period. It would be fine. Why not? Maybe it’s the finality of it all that makes it so hard and frightening, but rationally analysing people should afford that statement without hedging. It does go against the grain of the gut emotional wisdom. Like a screenwriter’s decision, if in the plot an expedition group has gone to a perilous place and most of it has to die in the course of the film, to let the black guy and the white woman survive.

I’ll give a further example of why we do not have to speak the emotional language were were born into in order to be productive (and/or) happy. The Jewish state had to decide what language to opt for in its early days. They chose – ta-dah – Hebrew, which @ that point was a Biblical & clerical, unspoken language like Sanskrit is today. The decision was taken to incorporate all Jews into the state when the alternative would have been to choose spoken, living languages such as English, Russian or Jiddish. Hebrew did not have the historical baggage and burden of those other languages, and that’s why it was chosen. Choose Life. Choose a Language. Thank you.

Puheen kesto: 4 min 32 sek
Arvio: * * *. Puhe on hieman rautalangasta vääntämätön, joten se vaatii herpaantumatonta tarkkaavaisuutta. Siinä ei ihan päästä terävyyteen, jota oman puolensa ensimmäiseltä puhujalta edellytettäisiin. Siitä saa kuitenkin aineksia viedä tarinaa eteenpäin ja lisätä kierroksia.




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