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Re: Planet of the New Papers

On 8/20/07, Michael Mortimer <mickey_mortimer111@msn.com> wrote:
> Why would a scientist ever NOT want to reach a global audience?

I never said that. I said that reaching a global audience may not be
the *only* priority, and the benefits of publishing under different
languages may be different for different topics. Of course reaching as
wide an audience as possible is always a good thing, but it may not be
the *only* good thing.

Besides, if you're going to talk about sheer number of people, then
more people speak a Chinese language (all of which are written the
same) than English. So, objectively speaking, *you* should be writing
in Chinese!

(And that's not even getting into publishing history. There have been
scholarly treatises written in Chinese since English was just a
twinkle in some illiterate Germanic tribe's eyes. Okay, so maybe
they're not all *scientific* treatises, per se, but....)

> There's no more reason to keep other languages than there is to keep other 
> measurement
> systems.  They just divide and obfuscate.

It's not quite the same as metric vs. imperial. For one thing, systems
of measurement aren't as culturally charged as language (although they
are a bit charged--I myself find it difficult to think of personal
height in terms of centimeters--or should I say centimetres?--rather
than feet and inches). For another thing, systems of measurement are
orders of magnitude simpler than languages, and therefore easier to
standardize (or standardise?). Arguably, the only truly standardized
languages are computer languages. (And, actually, those are probably
going to come more and more into play with scientific literature.)

I still can't shake myself of the conclusion that the whole "English
only" argument is ethnocentric and frankly a bit greedy (90% of all
currently published literature isn't enough?). Maybe if someone who is
a non-native speaker of English were to make the same argument, I'd be
convinced otherwise. Any native speaker of English is probably going
to be biased.
Mike Keesey