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Re: Planet of the New Papers

I don't believe I've seen one single message on this thread that
intimated any such thing.  What has been stated is that "one" has an
inherent advantage over any other number as the number of different
languages in use in scientific discourse.

Well, it's certainly the sense I got from a couple of the posts in this thread...

I'm pretty sure if the word decided to standardise on, say, Spanish,
I'd find it well worth my while to learn that language because the
pain of learning would be as nothing beside the great gain of being
able to read _all_ new papers.  Isn't that the whole point of a
universal language?

Yes, of course, and I wasn't saying that a universal language wasn't _desirable_ -- just unrealistic, at least in the short term (meaning our lifetimes).

> Believe you me, after you've had to grade papers where students
> actually use text-message-speak in their answers, you'll realize
> how poorly the natives grasp their own language.

Red herring here -- that's a cultural problem, not a linguistic one.

True, but it's little things like that that, over the long term, induce linguistic changes. Languages evolve over time, of course -- it's why we don't use "thee" and "ye" anymore in English yet get all excited when "D'OH!" is added to the Oxford English Dictionary (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/1387335.stm). ;-D Perhaps not in British English, but it wouldn't surprise me much (though it would seriously depress me) if "c u" became acceptable instead of "see you" in American English in another few decades. In our lifetimes, we've already largely done away with the "rule" that sentences shouldn't end with prepositions (perhaps wisely, as Winston Churchill would note!); this has been the result of public pressure, which began with a culture in which so many people couldn't be bothered to actually _adhere_ to the rule that whomever it is that makes the rules decided to just abandon it -- hence, cultural changes effect linguistic changes. Languages that aren't adapted to the environment in which they exist don't survive unless they adapt. (It's just whether or not those adaptations are "good" is what's arguable!)

Jerry D. Harris
Director of Paleontology
Dixie State College
Science Building
225 South 700 East
St. George, UT  84770   USA
Phone: (435) 652-7758
Fax: (435) 656-4022
E-mail: jharris@dixie.edu
and     dinogami@gmail.com


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