Category Archives: Switzerland

The Future

Here.

This is going to have to be the way forward. In the next 20 years, 50% of all jobs in the US are projected to be lost due to automation. I do not believe any of the rosy scenarios idiots are trying to paint out of this. “But we will need humans to run/fix/maintain those machines!” being just one of them. Another one is, “Cool! Now most of us can just kick back and be rich now!”

Not so fast.

 

At that point the only way forward will be for the humans to form a Neo-Luddite Movement and rise up and destroy the machines. This revolution may even have popular support. People are waiting in line at a checkout counter in a Big Box store. Several young men wearing black baclavas rush into the store with hammers and smash up a few machines before running away.  All of the people in line cheer and a mob forms to block the security guards racing to the scene. As the Black Bloc guys race through the parking lot, cars stop and tell them to hop in on.

We could have property-destroying revolutionaries everywhere, cheered on by onlookers who obstructed police and security, refused to cooperate with law enforcement, and even offered the revolutionaries a mass base of 10’s of millions who would support, feed, drive and hide them. I’m already down with it.

I fantasize regularly now about being one of those revolutionaries, pulling up to places at all ours of the day or night, running up to some machines with a hammer, smashing away at some machines, and taking off. I’ve already committed some crimes like this before against some of my enemies, both individuals and businesses. Crime is a rush like no other that I have ever experienced. Nothing else comes close.

 

92 Comments

Filed under Britain, Crime, Economics, Europe, Finland, Government, Labor, Regional, Revolution, Social Problems, Sociology, Switzerland

An Overview of Walloon, a Macro-French Language of Belgium

Mountleek: Yes, probably every country is different. France is, as we know, quite aggressive towards other languages, for example.

I still think that the strength of regional lects is overrated. How many people in Belgium actually speak Walloon? Some middle aged and older people in the countryside, and on top of that, only in some situations? Maybe they start using Walloon when they enter middle age? But still, people who move into cities will not speak Walloon, there is no occasion to use it.

I believe that in Switzerland, the local German dialects are strong though.

Walloon has 500,000 speakers among five major lects. The central lect or Central Walloon is understood by all, so it is more or less the koine or standard. Intelligibility among the lects is very controversial, but the eastern and southern lects or Eastern and Southern Walloon are hard to understand.

Walloon is doing pretty well. I have had at least a couple of commenters on here who were native speakers. They seemed to be men in their 30’s-40’s.

You have whole cities in some places where everyone speaks Walloon, especially over by the French border. Everyone in Tournai speaks Walloon, even teenagers. I know that from reports on the Net. Tournai actually speaks Picardian Walloon or Western Walloon. There’s Picardian Walloon, and then right across the border in France by Valenciennes there’s Walloonian PicardOne’s Picard, and one’s Walloon. Oh, and they can’t understand each other.

By the way, Picard is very heavily spoken in Valenciennes in France on the border. Of all of the langues d’oil, Picard is maybe in the best shape. The Picardian region is a hardscrabble rural area with a  lot of miners and a very traditional way of life, and they don’t want to give up Picard.  Furthermore, Picard has reasonably good intelligibility with Parisien at 65%. Picard has all sorts of dialects within it.

I think Charleroi is also heavy Walloon speaking. I know that Namur is Walloon-speaking also.

Really, the whole of French Flanders speaks either Walloon or Belgian French, and Belgian French is quite different from Parisien French. The differences are at least like British and American English and maybe even worse. I am sure that all Belgian French speakers can understand Parisien French. The question would be if the Parisien speakers can understand Belgian French, and there are some reports of difficult intelligibility in that direction.

From what I can see there are whole cities where everyone down to teenagers heavily speaks Walloon, so I figure it will be around til the end of the century. I found a French messageboard where everyone was writing in French. It was for regional languages. There were certainly a lot of angry people on there, but they were all French people or French speakers, they all spoke the various minority languages of France and the surrounding areas, and most importantly, most people on the board were teenagers and young adults in their 20’s! The Walloon section was very active, full of Walloon-speaking teenagers from all over the area, and many of them were writing in Walloon, so apparently there is a written standard.

Belgium has not been real evil about regional languages like France. I doubt if it has been real great either. It’s probably somewhere in the middle. These countries do not wish to recognize any minority lect that is related the official languages, which is another matter altogether.

For sure a lot to most middle aged people speak Walloon in a lot of places, and no doubt majorities of the old people speak it also in other places.

The lects are Western Walloon, Northern Walloon, Central Walloon, Eastern Walloon and Southern Walloon. Eastern for sure and Southern probably are separate languages. Central of course is the standard language, so that gives us two or probably three Walloons. Next comes the question of whether it is reasonable to split off Western and Northern Walloon, and I have no answer to that. I think all of the lects are in good shape.

In a small village in Belgium on the French border, Meuse, a dialect of Lorrain, a langue d’oil, was formerly spoken, but it may be extinct by now. Lorrain has many lects within it, and the language as a whole is in very bad shape. There are some middle aged and older speakers in places like Lille and Nancy. Some Lorrain lects which still have a few speakers have seen declines of up to 98% in the number of speakers. Lorrain is surely an endangered language. Some French speakers say they can understand maybe 1% of Lorrain.

The langues d’oil are really separate languages. The French state has even admitted that, but it still won’t give them any rights due to “progressive” Jacobinism which has said for 200 years that Parisien is the only language in France, and there can be no other official languages. For a supposedly progressive ideology, Jacobinism is awfully nationalistic and ugly. Laicite secularism seems to go a bit to far too if you ask me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Belgium, Europe, France, French, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Romance, Sociolinguistics, Switzerland

Mutual Intelligibility in “German”

RL: “Low Franconian is just Dutch.”

Anglo-Saxon Maverick: I would assume that low German, comes from the Northern regions of Germany close to the North Sea, where the elevation is lower?, as opposed to further South where the Alps rise? Holland is topographically lower than France, hence the name?

Yes, the Netherlands is very low in elevation, in fact, I believe it is even below sea level, hence the need for dikes to keep the sea out and polders or reclaimed land formerly flooded by the sea.

Yes, this exactly where Low German comes from of course.

And yes, Upper German comes from the region by the Alps, and Middle German is in between the two. These are actually at least three completely different languages, but Germany will not officially recognize them as such and neither will many German speakers. Even Bavarian and Swiss German are completely separate languages – those are not the same languages as German at all.

A German speaker cannot understand a Swiss German, Low German or even a Bavarian speaker at all. I heard a story about a White man who even learned Munich Bavarian who said he sat in a hot tub with two women who were speaking some Bavarian dialect to the south of Munich near the Austrian border. Over a 2-3 hour period, he said he did not understand one single word that they said, even though all three spoke Bavarian. Bavarian speakers to the south of Munich often cannot understand people even 15 miles away. In these cases, they all communicate via Hochdeutch or Standard German.

In Austria, every region or county speaks its own version of Bavarian and it is said that none of them can understand each other. At least in the 1970’s, people from 3-4 counties in the west of Austria could sit at a table and talk and none of them could really understand each other. Even pure Viennese Bavarian which is very much dying out nowadays simply cannot be understood outside of the Vienna region and nowadays a lot of Viennese themselves cannot even understand it.

8 Comments

Filed under Austria, Bavarian, Dutch, Europe, German, Germanic, Germany, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Language Families, Linguistics, Low German, Netherlands, Regional, Switzerland

More on the Swiss Gun Control Argument

Frank B writes:

According to TIME, dateline Geneva, there is more to it than what the recent comments above say:

“The biggest change to the firearms legislation was made in 2007, requiring soldiers to store their bullets in an arsenal rather than in the households, but they were allowed to continue to keep their firearms at home. However, people who own private guns can purchase ammunition freely, as long as their weapon is registered.”

So the implied argument that all Swiss have guns but no ammo is false, according to TIME. As you see here, many many many guns and mucho mucho mucho ammo, but very low gun crimes:

“Because of these traditions, gun ownership in Switzerland is among the highest in the world, trailing behind only the U.S. and Yemen. Between 2.3 million and 4.5 million are estimated to be in circulation in a country of only 8 million people. But while the gun-suicide rate is fairly high — about 300 cases a year — the number of violent crimes is relatively low: government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. By comparison, the U.S. rate in the same year was about five firearm killings per 100,000 people, according to a 2011 U.N. report.”

So yes, the “Switzerland Argument” has merit in support of private gun and ammo ownership.

“Shooting is also a popular pastime. The Swiss learn to shoot from an early age, master safety techniques and develop a sense of responsibility toward their firearms. It is not unusual to see entire families — kids as young as 12 and their grandparents — participating in target practice or sharpshooting competitions that are held in towns and villages across the country.”

Safety with firearms is learned from a young age.

The article references two mass shootings in Switzerland. One was very recent, April 2013. The overall rate of gun violence though is low, statistically low.

Nope, actually the Swiss example has absolutely no merit whatsoever in terms of private possession of guns.

So what’s your point? In Switzerland, there may or may not be a lot loaded weapons in homes – the article did not state how many Swiss actually bought ammo and then loaded it into their guns and kept loaded guns around the home. Perhaps most Swiss who have these guns do not purchase ammo on the private market, and anyway, the home gun loaded or not must be locked away at home. Also those guns must be locked away when they are in the home. It’s really going to do a lot of good defending your home against an invader with a locked away gun, huh?

I suppose they can take their guns out of their locked cases where they are stored at home in order to go to the shooting competition in town, but then they have to bring the guns back to the home and lock them up again. How many are going to leave the shooting competition and go on a shooting spree?

Even if it is true that somehow Switzerland has lots of loaded guns lying around in homes all over the land and somehow manages a low crime rate nevertheless, it is utterly irrelevant to the US. Because here, in spite of the possible Swiss experience, a locked and loaded society deluged with guns is in fact causing a tsunami of gun crimes. Yeah, if we were like Switzerland, that might not be so. But we are not like Switzerland. So what is the point of bringing up the irrelevant example in the first place?

The point about gun safety is also irrelevant. Whenever we discuss accidents, which by the way, kill 1,000 Americans every year or three every day, the gun nuts say, “Well those people are idiots who do not know any good gun safety. If they knew gun safety, this would never have happened.”

This argument is also irrelevant. How long have the gun nuts been yelling about gun safety and how people are supposed to learn it and then we will not have any more gun issues. 40 years? 50 years? So what has happened in the interim period? Have Americans learned any better gun safety than they had 40-50 years ago? Of course not. Will they learn it well before I die? Probably not. We seem doomed to have a nation of gun safety morons into the forseeable future.

Also this argument is horribly hypocritical in that many times we gun controllers have passed laws mandating gun safety courses before one can purchase a firearm. Guess how the NRA reacted to each and every attempt to do that? They oppose and continue to oppose all of our efforts to mandate passing a gun safety course before you buy a gun.

Those gun safety courses are not that great either. A gun safety instructor recently committed suicide with the gun he was demonstrating in front of his horror-striken class.

Gun nuts are just like all conservatives. Most of their arguments are just wrong.

25 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Crime, Europe, Law, Political Science, Regional, Switzerland, USA

Why the Switzerland Example Is a Lousy Pro-Gun Argument

Steven writes:

Switzerland does show that isn’t NECESSARILY the case. I do not really want more guns in Britain though and you may be in general right. It would be good if you could show us a graph or a map comparing gun ownership and homicide rates.

The guns in Switzerland are stored at the armory, and I would bet that they are all longarms. I doubt if possession of handguns is as liberal as in the US, and I am almost certain that they do not allow semiautomatics. The Swiss government officially owns all of those guns that the Swiss supposedly own themselves.

The Switzerland argument is insipid. When we say we need gun control in the US, the gun nuts whip out the Switzerland example to show that gun control would not work in the US. The argument is senseless.

Yes, the Swiss example appears to show that you can have a society with high gun ownership that has little crime.

But so what?

If you go the way of liberalization, you are playing with fire. Nations tighten up their gun laws all the time. Every heard of one single country anywhere on Earth loosening up their gun laws to make them along US lines? Of course not. Obviously it’s a bad idea since nobody wants to do it, and every country thinks it is a crazy thing to do.

Yep, high gun ownership is not causing much crime in Switzerland.

But here is why that argument is nonsensical.

High gun ownership is causing a ton of gun crime and gun homicide in the US, unlike Switzerland. The US will probably never be like Switzerland. If we were like the Swiss, there would be no need to ban guns. Considering that an incredible amount of crime in the US is gun crime, and gun homicide rates here are very high, it stands to reason that making guns less available would cut into some of those homicide rates.

12 Comments

Filed under Crime, Europe, Law, Regional, Switzerland, USA

Check Out Arpitan

This is the first I have ever heard of the Arpitan language. This segment is the Evolénard dialect spoken in the Valais region of Switzerland. This language sounds completely strange to me. Every now and then, it sounds something like French, but mostly it’s just sui generis. I could not pick up one word of this.

Arpitan split from proto-langue d’oil around 800-900. This is really the intermediate langue between North Gallo-Romance and South Gallo-Romance.

What is Gallo-Romance? Gallo-Romance is that branch of Romance that is derived from the Vulgar Latin that arose from Gaullic speaking regions. The north went to the langues d’oil and French. Langues d’oil started to split around 900 or so. The south went to Rhaetian in the Alps -Romansch and Ladin and the Gallo-Romance languages of northern Italy. It is true – the Italian languages of northern Italy are closer to French than they are to Italian.

Arpitan is said to retain a strong resemblance to Latin itself – it is very archaic.

1 Comment

Filed under Europe, French, Indo-European, Indo-Hittite, Italic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Italy, Ladin, Language Families, Linguistics, Regional, Romance, Romansch, Switzerland

Official Language Lunacy

Repost from the old site.

As a linguist who has actually worked in the field as a professional linguist (and anthropologist) I happen to know quite a bit about official language laws around the world.

Most countries of the world have at least one official language. In Latin America, it is generally Spanish. In Africa, it is often a colonial language along with one or more large national languages. India has about 13 official languages, often one for each state, with English and Hindi given some prominence. In Israel, believe it or not, Arabic and Hebrew are official languages.

The official languages of the Philippines are Tagalog and English. In Europe, the official language tends to be the main language of the country – German in Germany, Portuguese in Portugal, Dutch in Holland, etc. Sometimes, a smaller regional language is also designated an official (regional) language, but these are mostly just used in a certain area.

Some European countries have many official languages, without apparent problems. The Netherlands has 13 official languages, if you can believe that. Finland has 2, Swedish and Finnish. The UK has three – French (Channel Islands), Welsh and English. Switzerland has three – French, German, Italian and Romansch. Belgium has French, German and Dutch. Ireland has Irish and English.

Having more than one official language in most or all cases has not caused any problems with separatism. Where separatism exists, it was present or even worse while the regional language was being suppressed. Separatism will exist in some cases whether you repress it by force or if you allow autonomy to flower.

The French are pretty terrible about this – as French is the only official language in France and the French are bigots towards other languages. In Canada, French is an official language in Quebec, but they have been speaking French in Quebec before there was a Canada. French is an indigenous language there. The Turks and some Arab states are bigoted about Turkish and Arabic.

In general, though, official languages are not much of a source of problem in most of the world, only where they are used as instruments of the ultranationalist chauvinism described above. And why should not everyone in Turkey, France and some Arab states just speak Turkish, French and Arabic only?

Well, maybe they should, but they also have a right to speak their regional language, because the Bretons and Basques were speaking Breton and Basque long before there was a France. The Kurds have been speaking Kurdish in Turkey for thousands of years before there was a Turkish state. The Kurds and Assyrians in Iraq and Syria spoke their languages for thousands of years before there was an Iraq or Syria.

Many countries have quite a few official languages. As noted, India has 13. South Africa has 11 official languages. Adopting quite a few languages as official has not been much of a problem for most countries, though Americans probably think it is stupid or crazy.

Which brings us to the United States. Official language policy has sadly fallen to the same lunatic forces that have taken over our immigration debate. Do we have an official language in the US? No, we do not, but many states do. About 30 states have designated English as the official language, New Mexico has designated Spanish an official language and Hawaii has designated Hawaiian as an official language.

Is it rational for Hawaiian to be an official language of Hawaii? Sure, it’s been spoken there for hundreds of years before we stole the place. Spanish in New Mexico? Sure. When New Mexico was admitted to the Union, a large percentage of the population were Spanish speakers of Spanish, not Mexican, heritage.

There are many Indian languages in the US, but most of them are dying, and many are already dead. They have few speakers and in no case do they make up a large percentage of a state’s speakers.

Nor do we have a situation similar to New Mexico anywhere else in the US. When California was admitted to the US, there were some Spanish-speaking Californios (only .1% of the population of Mexico lived in California when it was a part of Mexico), but they were quite outnumbered by then by English-speakers flooding in with the Gold Rush.

The vast majority of Spanish speakers in California are relatively recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America, legal and illegal, with some second language speakers like me. I am not aware of any case anywhere on Earth where the language of a recent wave of immigrants has been granted official status. If you know of one, let me know.

The vast majority of the people in the US speak English. According to global norms, English should be the official language of the United States. In most of the sane world, that would be a noncontroversial view, and speaking as a linguist, it would be linguistically justified. Yet for some reason, people who advocate English as the official language of the US are derided as bigots!

This is completely bizarre. In the vast majority of the world, making the language of the vast majority of citizens the, or an, official language is a boring and mundane decision. Rarely is the specter of racism raised.

If we can make English an official language of the US without appealing to the language bigots or nativists, let’s do it. English as an, or the, official language need not be the same as English-only. I don’t see why governments at all levels and any businesses could not continue to provide notices and services in other languages for recent immigrants if English was an official language – it’s a rational and humanitarian thing to do.

10 Comments

Filed under Africa, Americas, Asia, Britain, California, Canada, Europe, Finland, France, Government, Immigration, India, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Latin America, Linguistics, Middle East, Netherlands, North America, Philippines, Quebec, Racism, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, SE Asia, Sociolinguistics, South Asia, Switzerland, Syria, Turkey, USA, West

The Top 10 Richest Countries: Weath and Economics

Uncle Milton, an consistent apologist for corporate America, takes me to task for saying that the US practices the most rightwing economics of any of the top 10 richest countries on Earth:

Norway, Qatar, and UAE are wealthy because of a very valuable resource (oil) and a small population with a governing class that doesn’t steal from it’s citizens. Arguably Qatar and UAE are more right wing than the US. (You can be jailed in the UAE for failing to pay your debts, “immodesty” can be punished, foreigners when their job contracts are expelled rapidly, there is a clear divide between benefits for citizens and resident aliens…)What is really funny is calling Switzerland, Jersey, and Luxembourg more right wing than the US. (I guess it depends upon how you want to conveniently define right wing…) Corporate taxes are lower in all three than the US and the laws are more Corporate friendly. Basically they are wealthy because that’s where rich Europeans (and quite a few rich people from around the globe..) hide errr… ahem stash their money. Ireland also used to have some of the lowest Corporate taxes in Europe.. I don’t think Ireland is still that wealthy.. since it is going through a housing crises implosion that is worse than the US.

Denmark ranks number one in the globe as a place to do business by Fortune magazine…a notorious left wing publication. “Cough.”

I am talking about economic rightwing.I don’t care about social conservatism. I’m an economic man, a socialist, remember? I agree with Marx. Economics is everything.

UAE and Qatar apparently have extensive social democracies, unless I am mistaken.

Denmark has an extremely extensive social democracy. It’s wonderful to hear that Steve Forbes loves Danish social democracy so much. Do you think you could convince him to lobby for some Danish style social democracy in the US instead of campaigning to destroy every trace of social democracy that’s left in this country.

When Steve Forbes ran for President a while back, he campaigned on a promise to “zero out” social spending in the US. We have a lot of commenters who love capitalism and US corporations. Steven Forbes represents the corporations of America. He’s their man. When he says he wants to zero out US social spending, he speaks for US corporations. In other words, US corporations want to end all social spending in the US. Do you supporters of corporate capitalism in the comments agree that social spending should be zeroed out? If not, then why do you support the enemy (US corporate capitalism)?

Ireland, Jersey, Luxembourg and Switzerland all have very extensive social democracies, unless I am mistaken.

It’s really annoying to hear disgusting Zionist Jews, White nationalists and supporters of US capitalism denounce the source of wealth of other nations. Only rightwing US Whites can actually create wealth, apparently. How do they “create” wealth? I don’t know. Maybe they grow the stuff on trees?

All of these groups love to denounce the wealth of the oil states. They don’t deserve it, you know. They’re just stupid Arab Muslim non-White terrorist scum who got lucky and planted a country on an oil patch.

It’s also annoying to hear White nationalists and US rightwingers denounce the wealth of various offshore banking states and rich people hangouts. The niggers of Barbados don’t create any wealth, you know. Only rightwing US Whites “create” the stuff, by alchemy I guess. Barbados niggers are only rich because superior rightwing White US financial alchemists stash their cash there after they conjure up the stuff in plush labs on Wall Street or wherever.

Wealth is wealth. If you’re rich, you’re rich. No one cares how you got it, as long as it’s legal.

US style rightwing economics is based on extreme hatred of social democracy and state social spending. It’s the only country on the list that has that kind of rightwing economics. Most countries with the US philosophy are actually rather poor.

I seriously doubt if the laws protecting consumers, workers and the environment from the usual corporate abuse are more lax in Switzerland, Luxembourg than in the US. That seems like a highly dubious statement to make. They ride pretty hard on corporations in the public interest over in Europe.

Here in the US, we live in a shithole. Corporations get to do whatever they want, all the politicians of both parties are 100% corporate owned, and there is little to no limitation of corporations in the interest of the public, workers, consumers or the environment. For all intents and purposes, we live in a Corporate Dictatorship here in the US. It’s like a rich version of your typical 3rd World shithole.

I honestly don’t care about the rightwing capitalist obsession with “prosperity.” It doesn’t have the slightest thing to do with living in a decent country. All this prosperity hasn’t done a damn thing for me in my life, nor those who live around me. What good is it? These guys can take their prosperity and shove it right up their ass for all I care.

9 Comments

Filed under Americas, Arabs, Barbados, Blacks, Capitalism, Capitalists, Caribbean, Conservatism, Economics, Europe, Europeans, Ireland, Latin America, Political Science, Race/Ethnicity, Racism, Regional, Scum, Socialism, Switzerland, White Nationalism, Whites, Zionism

Cool Neo-Latin Websites

Repost from the old site.

Forgive me a bit while I trip off into obscure Romance linguistics here for a bit, but I’m really getting off on this little journey.

Here is the website for La Quotidiana, an online and printed daily newspaper in the Romansch language. This is the closest Romance language of all to Latin itself.

Below are a couple of websites entirely in the Ladin language. Ladin is spoken in northeastern Italy, in the Eastern Alps. The specific range is called the Dolomites. Ladin is a weird-looking language. At first you think it’s French, then…no, it can’t be. Wait, it’s Italian, no, not quite. You keep thinking Romanian, but that’s wrong too. The one thing that keeps hitting you is that it looks so much like Classic Latin.

Noeles.net is said to be the only online Ladin newspaper. Ladins da Friul is even better. It’s also entirely in Ladin, but it has lots of really cool photos.

The people in this region are isolated in small mountain valleys, wear strange but fascinating traditional garb including wide-rimmed hats, have sloped roofs on the buildings with Swiss clocks on the outside, and seem to be very, very deeply Catholic.

The people have interesting features and look more Germanic or Slavic than anything else. Lots of blond and red hair and blue and green eyes. There seems to be a deep tradition of scholarly endeavors and a general serious, even ponderous nature. These are not the happy go lucky Italians of the South.

Traditional racial science classed the Europeans in this area as “Dinarics.” A gallery of Dinarics is here. It’s from a horrible proto-Nazi book by Hans F.K. Gunther, but the photos are pretty interesting.

Employment seems to be mostly tourism now, but it looks as if some small farming, especially wine grapes, logging and handicrafts such as woodcarving still employ some folks. It doesn’t seem to be the sort of place one gets rich, but you get the feeling that people in the Dolomites really don’t care about getting rich. That’s a good set of values! Modern, sophisticated White people who don’t give a damn about getting rich.

Persistence of small languages in Europe is associated with isolation, rural areas, poor economics, “backwardness,” deep religious values and regular churchgoing, and employment in traditional industries. In these isolated regions, speakers of small languages continue to marry their own kind – they don’t breed with outsiders too much.

You also get the impression that many folks here spend their whole lives in one small village. I recall an anecdote where a writer was in a small Scottish village and an old-timer informed that he was moving for the first time in his life. “Oh?” asked the writer. “Where?” He was moving across the street.

Ladin has 30,000 speakers and Romansch has 35,000. These are cultured, intelligent, educated Europeans, yet they are still speaking small languages that don’t have a lot of use in our multicultural world.

I wonder what it must feel like to speak one of these small languages? There is probably not a lot to read in your small language. But in the case of Romansch and Ladin, probably almost all speakers also speak Italian and/or German at least, so if they want to do a lot of reading, there’s tons of German and Italian stuff out there.

These small languages are often called “the language of the hearth and home.” They are spoken with family and friends, in small towns and villages, on the street and in shops. In some rural or more isolated areas, they are spoken at work. But in the wider world, a larger language is used.

In modern times, the fate of the language lies with the younger generation. If they see the small language as having little value in our modern world, they will fail to use it or even learn it and will eventually lose the tongue.

There are also problems with immigrants moving into the area who are not interested in learning some small language. Due to poor economics, a lot of speakers of small languages emigrate out of their home region to big cities. Eventually, many of them lose their native language.

Media for small tongues is a constant problem, and it’s one reason I’m a socialist. These languages usually need some sort of funding by the state as the wonderful market just can’t see any profit in a radio or TV station broadcasting in some small tongue. So the state typically funds newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, etc.

Advertising is another problem. You can put up signs in your small language and try to sell to speakers, but outsiders won’t be able to read them. So bilingual signage is often used.

Education is always a sticky issue. With the larger minority tongues, there are often lessons in the language available through various grades of school. With the bigger ones, you can also opt to use the minority tongue as a language of instruction, as long as you take courses in the national language every year. Shortages of quality schoolbooks and other learning materials are typical problems, along with teachers fluent in the language.

Recent decades have seen revivals throughout Europe in most of the small tongues.

Here are a couple of websites in the much larger Friulian language, with 800,000 speakers. It’s close to Ladin and Romansch. Lenghe.net looks quite thorough. The Radio Onde site is also pretty nice.

Friulian looks like it is getting quite a web presence, probably due to the high number of speakers. Radio and TV stations and printed press costs money, but websites are a lot cheaper.

Maybe the web is going to be savior of a lot of small tongues.

Leave a comment

Filed under Economics, Education, Europe, Europeans, Friulian, Immigration, Italians, Italic, Italo-Celtic, Italo-Celtic-Tocharian, Italy, Ladin, Language Families, Linguistics, Race/Ethnicity, Regional, Reposts From The Old Site, Romance, Romansch, Socialism, Sociolinguistics, Switzerland

Map of the Romance Speaking World

Here is a very nice map of the parts of the world that speak a Romance language, in whole or in part. The main languages covered here are Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian and Romanian.

Nice map of the Romance languages of the world. Click to enlarge.

The heavy Spanish speaking zone is Spain, Rio Muni, New Mexico and Latin America except for Brazil, the Guyanas, Haiti and some Caribbean islands that speak French. To a lesser extent, it is spoken Spanish Sahara and Belize. To a much lesser extent, it is spoken in  parts of the US and in the Philippines where it is a dying colonial language.

The heavy Portuguese speaking zone is Brazil, Portugal, Angola, Mozambique, other parts of Africa and East Timor. In the latter countries, it is a lingua franca.

French is heavily spoken in France, Quebec, French Guyana, French Polynesia, Belgium and Switzerland, less heavily in much of Africa, especially Congo, the Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad, Niger, Mali, Togo, Cote d’Ivorie, Burkino Faso, Senegal, West Africa, Central Africa, Djibouti and Madagascar, less in the rest of Canada, and even less in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Louisiana, where it is a dying colonial language overtaken by national languages in Southeast Asia, Arabic in Northwest Africa and English in Louisiana

Italian is spoken heavily in Italy and less so in Libya and Albania.

Romanian is spoken heavily in Romania, Moldova and Serbia.

6 Comments

Filed under Africa, Algeria, Americas, Belgium, Belize, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Central America, Congo, Europe, France, French, Grenadines, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Italian, Italic, Italy, Ivory Coast, Laos, Latin America, Lebanon, Libya, Louisiana, Madagascar, Mali, Middle East, Morocco, Mozambique, North Africa, North America, Pacific, Philippines, Polynesia, Portugal, Portuguese, Quebec, Romance, Romania, SE Asia, Senegal, Serbia, South, South America, Spain, Spanish, Switzerland, Togo, Tunisia, USA, Vietnam, West Africa, Western Sahara, Zaire