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Succesfully Multi-lingual Nations

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Keirador, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. The Last Conformist

    The Last Conformist Irresistibly Attractive

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    France isn't bilingual, but it's got a severe case of diglossia.
     
  2. Grisu

    Grisu Draghetto Moderator

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    I think that's a bit of an overstatement. All four languages are official, but I have never seen any school here to offer rumantsch as a class, but you're right on the other three languages.

    There are some conflicts between the german and the french-speaking part (the so-called "Röschtigraben") but these conflicts are not really serious and they aren't really related to language, more due to the fact that the west-swiss cantons (the french-speaking ones) usually are more liberal (especially when it comes to europe-questions) than the german speaking part which is pretty conservative.

    But overall I'd say that switzerland is a very successfull multi-lingual country, and I doubt that we'd be so well-off if we had only on language. One advantage is that swiss firms can pretty easily expand into our neighbouring countries with no fear of a language-barrier. I wouldn't have switzerland any other way.

    I thought you didn't acknowledge Bavaria as part of your nation ;)
     
  3. The Last Conformist

    The Last Conformist Irresistibly Attractive

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    Trivium: Some years ago in an attack of PCness, Sweden decided to give a few minority languages official status as "recognized minority languages". The funny bit is that they were selected on basis of having been spoken here for a long time, so while the biggest non-Swedish language here, Finnish, did make the list, the second biggest, Arabic, was passed over in favour of things like Yiddish, which has approximately zero speakers here.

    The list is Finnish, Romani, Yiddish, Sámi, and Meänkieli (also known as Torne Valley Finnish - the people I know who speak it consider it a dialect of Finnish).
     
  4. Yom

    Yom Re-ese Mekwanint

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    I know it's not bilingual. It was a joke (hence the laughing smiley).
     
  5. The Last Conformist

    The Last Conformist Irresistibly Attractive

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    I was joking too; diglossic as it may be, written and spoken French are not (yet) different languages.
     
  6. Yom

    Yom Re-ese Mekwanint

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    I wonder if there'll ever be a way to indicate inflection and intonation in text over the internet (without a verbalization of the text).
     
  7. aaglo

    aaglo Furioso!

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    I think Meänkieli is a dialect of Finnish too, eventhough I don't speak it very much :)
     
  8. aneeshm

    aneeshm Deity

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    Partition was a result of religious riots , not a clash over language . And that sort of problem is going to occur when you attempt , totally unprepared , the greatest migration in human history .
     
  9. The Last Conformist

    The Last Conformist Irresistibly Attractive

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    How well does religion correlate with language in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh?
     
  10. Babbler

    Babbler Deity

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    I see Canada heading this way. While orginally designed with a stronge central goverment, the provinces, (especially Quebec) have wrested more and more power out of the federal goverments hands. European Union member-states have less power within the federation than the Canadian provinces. The process does not seem to be slowing down -- just a few days ago, Quebec asked for more forgern policy powers. It is likely that in a decade or so, Canada may have a much diffent territorial and/or consititutional makeup, if it exists at all.
     
  11. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    It doesn't really. Language in India is more an indicator of status or a region's history than of religion.

    Language & Religion: Sure the Muslims in the North are more likely to speak Urdu (generally speaking this is a Persian/Farsi script delivering much the same content as the Hindi language) than a Hindu in the south. But that's just common sense and not really a reflection of any socio-religious dynamics. When my (catholic) family over there go to Church, they have the choice of going to the English Mass, or one in Hindi, or Kanada or Telugu. Obviously for Hindus, the religious language has to be Hindi because the scriptures hold meaning in that language and have been passed down through history in a memorised pattern as such (but there may be temples doing English and dialect services). Mosques afaik have to deal in Arabic for much the same reason. Buddhists go with any language.


    I'd like to clarify a bit more about India, simply because I haven't been to any other country in the world which handles its languages in quite the same way. I'd say that the languages spoken in the different areas of India are more a reflection of:


    a) People's status.
    b) The history of that area.
    c) People's cultural (not religious) identification.

    English & Hindi are the official languages afaik. These get used in Government, legislation and also in the records of places like the Chambers of Commerce and Company House registration details. This link sends you to a rough map of languages spoken in India and their spread:
    http://www.mapsofindia.com/maps/india/indianlanguages.htm

    THREE EXAMPLES:

    1) There are then a myriad (thousands) of local dialects - especially in the South and North east. I'll give you the example of my mother's family, who mainly live(d) in Bangalore, South India.

    This city is surrounded and populated by many different communities, yet it is also a major city for the nation and to the outside world. This means that the two major govt and business languages are English and Hindi. However, it stands in the state of Karnataka (capital I think), the official language of which is Kanada NOT English or Hindi. Therefore, as you go around the streets of Bangalore, you will find signposts and traders dealing in English, Hindi and also Kanada. It all works fine because most people in that city speak all three to some degree, pretty much regardless of education. There is conflict between Hindi and Kanada films, but other than that it runs fine. In fact, there are even other languages like Tamil (from South), Telugu (also from south), Mulyalam (largely from Kerala) which also get used widely. So many people in Bangalore, from a street sweeper to a bank manager will be at least tri-lingual.

    2) Contrast this with Rajasthan, a state which traditionally resisted British and also Mughal rule. If you travel around this state you will find very few signs and traders dealing in English. They are predominately Hindi speaking. When travelling around here, I had to make do with my skant Hindi for days on end without speaking or reading any English in public. The only people who I spoke English with in Rajasthan were government and banking officials and a student on a bus, who was aspiring to be a politician. Everyone else just dealt in Hindi (or Rajasthani dialects which I didn't recognise). The notable points being: Only those with status, or aspiring to it, spoke English. English had a historically 'bad smell' to Rajasthanis and hence isn't used much.

    3) Mangalore: This is an old port town, just south of Goa. The demographics of this town roughly fit that of Bangalore. Yet here you see local dialects dominating far more and there is a greater evenness of languages - very confusing too IMO. I went to a house blessing ceremony whilst there last time. This was crazy. The young lady acting as the MC delivered everything in four languages (even the cheesey bingo game for the old ladies!): English, Konkani, Telugu and Malyalam. :crazyeye: "Number 11! Legs 11!" Then the Konkani, then the Telugu, then the Malyalam. :crazyeye:



    Now I'd like to hear about Switzerland.
     
  12. Nobody

    Nobody Gangster

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    New Zealand
     
  13. antonio

    antonio Warlord

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    The UK. Although the rest of the laguages are minority. Isn't Swaziland the only natoin in the world to have only one official language.
     
  14. SonicX

    SonicX Emperor

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    Stop naming countries who have a majority language spoken by over 95 % of the people. That is monolingual in reality.

    Multilingual countries in the west include :
    Belgium : 59 % Dutch, 30 % French, 1 % German
    Canada : 60 % English, 23 % French, ...
    Estonia : 68 % Estonian, 26 % Russian, ...
    Latvia : 58 % Latvian, 30 % Russian, ...
    Switzerland : 64 % German, 20 % French, 6 % Italian, ...

    Those are all the western countries with a primary language spoken by less than 80 % of the population. As you can see, Switzerland has smaller minority languages and that might be reason for it's success. In Canada (French seperatists), Belgium (Dutch seperatists), Estonia and Latvia (discrimination against Russian speakers) the primary language is not that much larger than the second, which results in a political battle.

    In general, the close the top 2 languages are together in absolute numbers, the most likely it is that problems will arise, provided that the top 2 languages together are an absolute majority by far.
     
  15. Grisu

    Grisu Draghetto Moderator

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    your wish is my command ;) actually, I already posted my thought further up, but I'll go a bit more into detail now:

    the four languages are distributed like this:

    German (63.7%; yellow),
    French (19.2%; purple),
    Italian (7.6%; green),
    Romansh (0.6%; red)

    as I said earlier there are usually no major problems between the languages, only german an french sometimes clash a bit (though, usually just in friendly banter).

    In school everybody has to learn one national language in addition to his mother-tongue. In the german speaking part it's usually french. the romands (french speaking swiss) and the ticinesi (italian speaking swiss) usually both learn german. the rumantsch-speaking people are bi-lingual anyway (they all speak german as well).

    one funny aspect is that those learning german, learn the "standard" german (that spoken by germans). Even romands who have a good command of the german language, usually won't be able to understand swiss-germans, as our dialect differs greatly from the normal german (most germans don't understand us either).

    usually the languages are strictly separeted. one region speaks french, another german. there are some cities where both languages are spoken equally (like biel/bienne or fribourg). here most people are truly bi-lingual and speak both languages as their mother-tongue.

    as I said earlier, I regard the bilinguality of switzerland as a clear advantage over other countries. it's pretty easy for firms here to hire people that speak multiple languages, which leads to improved flexibility. furthermore I just love to travel my country, hearing multiple languages and cultures, it makes switzerland appear much largen than it actually is.
     
  16. Rambuchan

    Rambuchan The Funky President

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    Thanks Ovi. Very interesting. I saw your post but wanted more detail 'from the horse's mouth'.
     
  17. aaglo

    aaglo Furioso!

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    Altough only 2% of the finnish people speak swedish as their native language, there are still some interesting stuff to know:
    - sweden is a compulsory course in primary school - minimum for three years.
    - a wild guess would be, that some 5-10 % of the tv-programs shown in tv are in swedish (news, topicals, tv-series)
    - all foreing movies shown in theaters have both finnish and swedish subtitles (except for dubbed movies, like cartoons)
    - all public services (everywhere in Finland) are available in both finnish and swedish.
     
  18. SonicX

    SonicX Emperor

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    Multilinguality in Belgium



    * Light brown = Flanders (Dutch)
    * White = Wallonia (French)
    * Black striped white = German
    * Light brown/white = Bilingual Brussels

    History of languages in Belgium

    Since independence in 1830, Belgium had been officially monolingual French as the Walloons ruled the country due to a superior aristocracy, a Francophone monarchy and a superior economy. In the nineteenth century, there was no official Dutch language in the north yet, but the people of the north spoke a large variety of Dutch dialects and lacked knowledge of the official French language, setting them further back in power.

    In WW 1, this started to change as the Flemish speaking soldiers at the front or in the trenches started to protest against this monolinguality. French military officers gave their orders in French, incomprehensible for the Flemish soldiers and therefore errors were made and Flemish soldiers were often demoted or worse for "not issueing orders". This led to mass protests which led to a slow recognition of the Dutch language in Belgium. From then on in, the whole country became bilingual.

    In 1970 the country got federalized and bilinguality over the entire country was replaced by monolinguality of newly made regional states. Brussels stayed bilingual as the capital however, and the German speakers from the area acquired after WW 1 also got their own monolingual state. This transition was not easy however, as many villages' and cities' French or Walloon linguality was disputed.

    With the language barrier, a problem of two entirely differeny mentalities grew over time, which was really visible when a referendum was held after WW 2 about the return of king Leopold III. The northern Flanders voted 70 % yes, while in the south only 35 % favored the return. Today on the other hand, the monarchy is supported largely by the Francophones while the Flemish have become mostly republicans.

    The regions in statistics

    Language : Dutch 59 %, French 40 %, German 1%, bilingual Dutch/French 10 %
    Education : French in Flanders : mandatory from age 11 onwards
    Dutch in Wallonia : mandatory from age 13 onwards
    GDP / Capita : Flanders 42 000 $, Wallonia 25 000 $
    Unemployment : Flanders 8.7 %, Wallonia 18.4 %
    Annual cash transfer : 11 billion euro, or 2200 $ per Fleming, per year goes to Wallonia in the form of welfare displacement and debt repayment.

    Politics in the regions

    Flanders :
    Christian Democrats (26 %), Far Right Nationalist/Flemish Bloc (24 %), Liberals (20 %), Socialists (20%)
    Wallonia :
    Socialist (38 %), Liberals (24 %), Christian Democrats (17 %), Far Right (8 %)

    -----

    In short, there's been tensions since independence and the differences between 2 almost equally sized ethnic groups are unsurmountable.
    A 60/40 bilingual balance is unique in the world, but there are reasons that no other country has the same system :king:
     
  19. Jeff Yu

    Jeff Yu Prince

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    Switzerland. They have four official languages, and they've more or less kept their independence as a nation for at least two hundred years.

    Singapore. Also four official languages, has mostly managed to maintain harmony between its various races, and is the richest and most successful country in Southeast Asia so far.

    Belgium. Three official languages (I think), and they don't see to be doing too badly.

    Canada. English and French, though the issue has caused resentment on both sides and there's the issue of Quebec independence.

    India. Something like twenty or so official languages. Not very successful (yet), but it'll eventually get there, and the country has managed to maintain unity and an Indian nationalism despite its many languages.
     
  20. Reno

    Reno The Studio Ghibli Fanatic

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    Isn't the % ratio more closer to 9 % of Finn's speaking Swedish as their native language?

    Switserland and Finland are good examples of Successful Multilingual Nations.
     

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