First topic: The English Language as the usurper of other languages:
Hey, Campb (This is the way I think your name should be spelled when I say it, got me?), I am also very excited about our project and I am very eager to write often and a lot. However, there are several problems concerning my computer and my studies, which take a lot of time, so do not expect an answer every day. But since we should ponder and think a while about what we write, our exchange can only get better by that. I do not care in which language you write me, for I understand English well enough, but I will often change to German because I do not have the capabilities to express myself fully in English. Also, when I write in English, I hope you will understand me. When you do not, send me a note, that we should discuss more about just that aspect. Yeah, I like your style. You are really exaggerating and eloquent. I think my style is going to be shorter and more realistic. This is because I lack your knowledge of philosopher's speeches or other things, but this is my style and it should not be the way yours is. Alright, let me answer to your thoughts about the intoxication of language: Your first observations are absolutely true. Germany had not been a country with one border. There were hundreds of little kingdoms scattered around this part of Europe, each with its own king and each with its own system of measurement for example. BUT language crosses borders, as you correctly observed. I subscribe to your thesis that language represents the culture of the people, but that is only partly right. We must distinguish here. A certain part of the language of every people on this world consists of unique expressions. No, I have to explain it further: Ferdinand de Saussure says that language has two sides, the side of expression and the side of content. This means that by saying "tree" I conjure up in your mind a green plant, which is rather big. However, it would be absolutely uncommon, if your idea of a tree was the same as mine. In both English and German we have means to express further what we intend to say. By saying "Nadelbaum" I differentiate this idea and it becomes narrower. It could be that you could not understand simply because you haven't heard anything yet about a "Nadelbaum" and haven't seen one yet. But this is how language works. We all have a common knowledge of the world and via these ideas we can communicate. Certain parts of the people have a certain knowledge that differs from other parts of the people. WE can use this outsider- or ,if you take it from the other side, insider-knowledge to differ from the others. That's how dialects work and coded language. If we don't want others to get the meaning of what we say we change to this part of our knowledge which does not come in touch with theirs. Let's come back to the beginning. I said that all languages in the world have a certain amount of idea in common. What is really interesting now is the amount in which languages differ. This can be extraordinary (the Eskimos have 37 words for snow) and simple, as in your example of "teilen". Btw the Eskimo thing enhances your thesis of language representing culture and behaviour by nature and the circumstances in which these people live. Nature and circumstances, however, do make these people develop a certain culture so you have alluded to that also. Saying that the differences between English and German were simple is not right. Just because we think that both languages have so much in common we can stumble over this differences and know not that we have expressed ourselves in the wrong way. That's what we call "false friends" and this is what makes it essential to learn a language by talking to native speakers or by reading books. Simple school education is not enough. There are a lot more examples like yours of "teilen" and it is absolutely normal that words for ideas which are new to a people are taken from the language of that people from which the idea came. That is a normal evolution process of language. I do not like the way the French for example handle this. By setting up this institution to keep their language clean they also keep their thoughts "clean" and remain narrow-minded. Taking over words from other languages means taking over ideas - which can only be positive. This takes me to your last point about intoxicated languages. Surely, the impact of English on other languages has greatly increased via the internet for example but this is still slow. You are exaggerating too much. German has taken in some English words that would be impossible to translate or that simply sound funny when translated. We get used to it and that is good so for now we can communicate with many others on a common basis and we are not endangered to be falsely understood. The French speak of a computer as an "ordinateur". I assure you that no one in France uses this word. Everyone is talking about "computers" since that word now simply is standard. You are right to say that if the idea (we always come back to that) of the new word is not fully understood, we are in danger to comprehend things wrongly. BUT new words express new ideas. The risk is small that ideas, which have remained in our language, culture and behaviour such a long time, are replaced by a new word from the "outside" which in the worst case means something else. Words die out because their idea is not longer existent. It's a pity but again this is evolution. Old people still know about old dialects but know one is talking them any longer. And why? Because know one needs to and that is the simple reason. We can communicate more easily via other languages then for example via Gaelic. And, which is most important: We reach a much bigger audience and this is what we want. Let's conclude: You have to see it more realistic! Languages die and you won't stop them from dying. The world is growing together. Our only means to adapt to this ever smaller world is to express ourselves on a common basis. English is spoken by many people all over the world. As a second language it is spoken by more people than Chinese. It is therefore only natural that English should be the language which is chosen as the common basis which it is already on the internet or in the sciences. English can be more precise than other languages and it also can be not as precise as these. But as the world is growing together these "details" will be worked out. I am very optimistic with that. Languages like Esperanto for example have not worked, because again the number of people who speak it is not big enough. English happens to be this language and it is only natural that we use it. We can't change it so we have adapt to it. It's the way of life!! I hope I could give you some new aspects of the problem. I like to write in English but here is the possibility that you won't understand. So again: drop me a line when that case happens.
Let me give you a new theme: What do you think about file-sharing? On one hand it is a considerable threat to the market, but on the other hand it enhances the community of users in very positive ways. "When you give me something, I give you something in return". And shouldn't that make us all happy? What do you think about that?
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