Friday, July 16, 2010

the upside of language death?

The bio-blogger Razib Khan steps into the murky waters of language death and proposes an hypothesis about how language death might have favorable outcomes for language evolution. Money quote: "very high linguistic diversity is not conducive to economic growth, social cooperation, and amity more generally scaled beyond the tribe."

As far as I can tell he has no evidence for this, but rather is drawing an analogy to cultural evolution ala Jared Diamond. The take-away seems to be: a little language diversity is good; a lot of language diversity is bad.

2 comments:

markgerardmiller said...

I love trying to communicate with people when we don't speak the same language. Rather than looking at it as a divider, it can bring one closer to a person or a community. And people really appreciate it when you try to learn their language or how to say phrases in their language. Except the French, of course. ;)

Chris said...

Mark, yes, my experience in China was much like this. Whenerver I made an effort to speak in the native language, the locals were always very happy and it made us all work with each other better.

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