23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

General discussion about learning languages
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EmmaC02
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby EmmaC02 » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:50 pm

Saim wrote:
Speakeasy wrote:I suspect that it matters very little to the indigenous peoples of Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Americas which language, culture, religion, and administrative rule they were subjected to, and I doubt that they would have expressed a preference amongst the numerous impositions other than something approximating, "no thank you, we're just fine as we are."


I'd say it kind of does matter. In Canada where there are two main settler groups there's already a multilingual framework (both in terms of attitudes towards multilingualism and the legal framework) within which one can recognise indigenous languages. In Australia and the US this simply doesn't exist.


Canada's government has an incredibly damaged relationship with the Aboriginal population. It's been an issue on the very forefront of Canadian domestic politics for quite awhile now. Canada's treatment of its Indigenous peoples is just as horrible as any other country's unfortunately. It seems we're finally starting to take steps to foster the relationship again, but there is oh so much needed to be done. Please don't hold us as a "standard" when it comes to these things.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Speakeasy » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:55 pm

Saim wrote: I'd say it kind of does matter. In Canada where there are two main settler groups there's already a multilingual framework (both in terms of attitudes towards multilingualism and the legal framework) within which one can recognise indigenous languages. In Australia and the US this simply doesn't exist.

I think that it would be truly difficult to find a serious historian who would not characterize the “Great Colonial Period” as one of invasion of non-belligerent foreign lands, brutal autocratic rule of the indigenous peoples, their rapacious exploitation, their enslavement, their submission, their total or partial annihilation, their pacification (sic), and their displacement, all of which were followed by alternating periods of neglect and efforts at linguistic and cultural assimilation. The methods employed by the British, French, Dutch, Belgian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Japanese, American, and Chinese differed only in the severity of their application. The goals were the same: the indigenous peoples themselves existed only as objects for conversion, “civilization”, exploitation, and domination … and this applied to La Nouvelle France and to British North America.

To suggest that the British and French North American “settler groups” operating north of the 49th parallel adopted policies and practices with respect to the indigenous peoples that were markedly different in their intent and their effects from those adopted by the British and French operating south of the border is to display a truly unfathomable ignorance of the history of Canada and the United States.

While there have been, in Canada, serious attempts and redressing the deplorable situation of the indigenous peoples since the 1970’s, the legacy of the British and French regimes is significantly less "utopian" than your comments would imply. As a Canadian living in Québec, I can assure that the country’s and the province’s language laws are not designed to foster the development of the languages of either the indigenous peoples or of any of the subsequent immigrants to these shores (likewise for the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie) ... man is a wolf to man ... even in Canada.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Saim » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:56 pm

EmmaC02 wrote:Canada's government has an incredibly damaged relationship with the Aboriginal population. It's been an issue on the very forefront of Canadian domestic politics for quite awhile now. Canada's treatment of its Indigenous peoples is just as horrible as any other country's unfortunately. It seems we're finally starting to take steps to foster the relationship again, but there is oh so much needed to be done. Please don't hold us as a "standard" when it comes to these things.


Oh, I didn't mean to suggest that Canada's good to it's indigenous people at all. Just that it's easier to fight for smaller languages in a (mental and legal) framework that's somewhat multilingual than one that's thoroughly monolingual. I don't think there's anything in the US or Australia that's comparable to indigenous language signage in Nunavut, as small as a step forward that may be.

Speakeasy wrote:I think that it would be truly difficult to find a serious historian who would not characterize the “Great Colonial Period” as one of invasion of non-belligerent foreign lands, brutal autocratic rule of the indigenous peoples, their rapacious exploitation, their enslavement, their submission, their total or partial annihilation, their pacification (sic), and their displacement, all of which were followed by alternating periods of neglect and efforts at linguistic and cultural assimilation. The methods employed by the British, French, Dutch, Belgian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Russian, Ottoman, Japanese, American, and Chinese differed only in the severity of their application. The goals were the same: the indigenous peoples themselves existed only as objects for conversion, “civilization”, exploitation, and domination … and this applied to La Nouvelle France and to British North America.


It'd also be difficult to find a serious Saim who wouldn't categorise colonisation as the invasion of foreign lands, brutal rule and all the rest.

In all seriousness, my point was about language ecology -- smaller languages are more likely to thrive in very multilingual regions. Multilingual societies are also more resistent to language shift. I wasn't showing any sort of sympathy to the French colonisation of America. The fact that I've called people living there for generations settlers should cue you in to what my ideological background is.

To suggest that the British and French North American “settler groups” operating north of the 49th parallel adopted policies and practices with respect to the indigenous peoples that were markedly different [...] is to display a truly unfathomable ignorance of the history of Canada and the United States.


True, which is why it's great that no-one here has suggested that.
Last edited by Saim on Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:04 am

Saim wrote:
Adrianslont wrote:Peter, I found the comment that English "dominates" the continent a bit odd. You don't live in Sydney, do you? Daily I hear numerous languages.

[...]

English is the national language and we know that means you need it to get ahead but diversity rules.


Apparently the fact that there are immigrants in Sydney and Melbourne means that the continent isn't dominated by English. Fine, Sydney and Melbourne together are probably 4/10ths of the Australian population, but the rest of the country does exist and is, apart from some remote Aboriginal communities like those in Arnhem Land or Cape York, linguistically quite homogenous.

Furthermore even in the second generation there are examples of people who don't know the language of their parent(s) at all, let alone have a decent command of it. I'm not saying that immigrant languages should be preserved indefinitely, but let's not pretend that Australia's any more diverse than it is. It is astonishingly linguistically homogenous for such a large territorial spread.

Diversity doesn't "rule", it's vaguely tolerated (most of the time). I don't know of many other countries where I've heard about being yelled at by strangers in public for speaking a foreign language (speaking specific foreign languages yes, but speaking a foreign language in general?).


Yes! This is exactly what I mean, and I was actually going to mention that Melb/Syd are only a small portion of the land area of the country. I forgot. I should know better having grown up in the country (as opposed to the city). Well said Saim
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby PeterMollenburg » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:09 am

Speakeasy wrote:
PeterMollenburg wrote: ... Why oh why couldn't the Dutch have settled here when they first landed? I know why (well i've read the 'explanations') it's just a damn shame the Portuguese, Dutch, French left it for the British. I don't mean that to come of racist, as it's not. I just would love to have seen the world in a more linguistically balanced place today. If Australia was a mixture of Dutch in the west and Portuguese in the east with French being the only language of all of Canada, or New France remained intact then we'd have a much more balanced linguistic arena (from the European language perspective of course)...

I suspect that it matters very little to the indigenous peoples of Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Americas which language, culture, religion, and administrative rule they were subjected to, and I doubt that they would have expressed a preference amongst the numerous impositions other than something approximating, "no thank you, we're just fine as we are."


Indeed. Where it might have made a difference is 'globalisation'. English is apparently the global language to the point that other once powerful European nations 'must' learn the global language now. If the British empire didn't become so powerful, the case for English or another global language would be harder to make.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Saim » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:17 am

PeterMollenburg wrote:Indeed. Where it might have made a difference is 'globalisation'. English is apparently the global language to the point that other once powerful European nations 'must' learn the global language now. If the British empire didn't become so powerful, the case for English or another global language would be harder to make.


I think this way as well. I mean, what's a larger loss of language diveristy, Kikuyu being killed by English or Kikuyu being killed by Swahili?

That said, I hope in the next couple of generations we'll build a viable alternative to mass language extinction, as choosing which is the "best" mass murderer isn't exactly a fun proposition (so Speakeasy I totally get where you're coming from). It's looking pretty bleak, though.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Speakeasy » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:20 am

Saim wrote: Oh, I didn't mean to suggest that Canada's good to it's indigenous people at all. Just that it's easier to fight for smaller languages in a (mental and legal) framework that's somewhat multilingual than one that's thoroughly monolingual. I don't think there's anything in the US or Australia that's comparable to indigenous language signage in Nunavut, as small as a step forward that may be.

Saim, allow me to disabuse you of your decidedly naïve view of the Canadian cultural mosaic. Over the past decade, numerous polls have revealed that a large portion of the population continues to support the concept of multi-culturalism. And yet, these same polls reveal that over half the population views the policy of multi-culturalism and its implementation to have been misguided and that the attempts at “micro-inclusiveness” as opposed to “integration” have been damaging the nation’s fabric. This “experiment” is taking place in many regions across the globe and, while it would be premature to announce the outcome, it is just as premature to herald the successes.
Last edited by Speakeasy on Wed Jun 15, 2016 2:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Saim
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Saim » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:44 am

Speakeasy wrote:Saim, allow me to disabuse of your decidedly naïve view of the Canadian cultural mosaic.


Really? I'm not even convinced that there is such a thing. :P

Let me repeat it for you: I think all modern states are ethnocidal. Your criticism of Canada is totally legitimate.
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby Finny » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:00 am

We're definitely moving toward a world where only a handful of languages are spoken; it's just a question of which ones they'll be. I doubt any of the biggest 100 will vanish in our lifetimes (i.e., within the next 50 years), but beyond that...
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Re: 23% of Australians speak a second language at home...

Postby AlexTG » Wed Jun 15, 2016 1:18 am

Here's an interesting table of data from the 1996 census, wish I could get a more up to date version.

(keep in mind that a lot of the second generation are children)

(source)
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