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Re: 11th specimen of Archaeopteryx‏



English is a relatively easy to learn language: yes. But I think
population (which may relate to the extent o an empire or ex-empire)
and economical reasons outweight others related to the possible merits
of different languages. For example, suppose that in the future the
per capita gross domestic production of China (which today includes
the largest amount of readers of a mother language) raises above the
levels of modern Anglo-Saxon countries, and their scientific
production (as most activities, related to income) increased grossly
proportionally as well, making most of dinosaur papers written in
Chinese (of course, Chinese scientists would prefer to write in their
mother language if it guarantees them a large number of readers). Most
of the other dinosaur students in the world would have to learn
Chinese (regardless of its advantages or disadvantages) in order to
avoid being ignorant of the largest body of literature, and also write
in Chinese, in order to be known by the largest amount of scientists
possible.

I speak Spanish, and in my experience and from what other countrymen
of me tell me, we study English to a greater degree than French just
because most scientific writings are written in English instead of
French or any other language. If I were in the late XIX century, I
would have to learn English, French and German with grossly equivalent
energy (well, I should do it anyways in the present). More generally,
I would rather guess most persons for which other language than
English is native generally do not know other languages so well as to
choose among them because of possible relative merits: out of
practicity they just prefer to study the one which is more useful
given the amount of things written or spoken in that language. And, in
so doing, they maintain said language as a lingua franca (if not,
English would be the language of the Anglosphere but not a lingua
franca).

Regarding the point by Tim, on the raise of the US relative to the
European powers, may be a great point. Before the US raised, I would
say the the superpotence was the widespread British empire, reason by
which the English language was also increased in importance. British
scientists were describing everything in their many colonies. But, at
this point, it seems their supremacy over the French and German
empires relative to science or scientific production was not marked.
Perhaps the world wars affected the relative importance of French and
German science (I would guess, through economical shortages and
greater use on reconstruction)? The U.S., on the contrary, was less
affected economically by these wars not fought on their territory.

2011/11/7 Stephen Dedman <dedmans@iinet.net.au>:
> Now you're on my turf, and I'd say that all of these are contributing
> factors - but the main reason that English has come to eclipse French as the
> universal language is that, to quote James Nicoll, "the English language is
> as pure as a crib-house whore. It not only borrows words from other
> languages; it has on occasion chased other languages down dark alley-ways,
> clubbed them unconscious and rifled their pockets for new vocabulary." (or
> as H. Beam Piper put it, English is the result of Norman soldiers trying to
> pick up Saxon tavern-wenches, and no more legitimate than their other
> offspring.)
>
> Another contributing factor is that French assigns genders to all nouns;
> English doesn't, making it easier to acquire new vocabulary without
> requiring approval from the Academe.
>
> Stephen Dedman
>
>
> On 7/11/2011 12:00 PM, Tim Williams wrote:
>>
>> Augusto Haro<augustoharo@gmail.com>  wrote:
>>
>>> I would say French is not the universal language and English is just
>>> because the British empire was able to defeat and expand more than the
>>> French between the XVIII-XIX centuries.
>>
>>
>> The universality of English was also helped immeasurably by the fact
>> that one of Britain's conquests in the New World went on to become a
>> superpower in the XX-XXI centuries.
>>
>>
>>
>> (No, it's not Jamaica.)
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Cheers
>>
>> Tim
>>
>
>