Power of Place Ch. 2 QS key
1. What is the current trend of humanity’s linguistic diversity, and what is globalization’s influence on this homogenization?
Humanity’s linguistic diversity is decreasing rapidly. Globalization is a powerful force that favors just a few languages at the expense of the hundreds or thousands of humanity’s languages.
2. How is the diversity of languages similar to the diversity of plants and animals? Use the terms latitude and dominance in your answer.
Diversity of plants and animals is greatest in the low latitudes, or Tropics. It decreases as one moves towards the poles. Linguistic diversity also is greatest in the low latitudes, or Tropics, where a multitude of different languages are spoken by many small groups, with no language dominant. Outside of the Tropics linguistic diversity decreases and a few languages are dominant.
3. Considering your answer to #2, how is it difficult to record and preserve the many endangered languages?
Many of the endangered languages of the Tropics are spoken by people who live in remote areas where it is difficult for linguists to record and preserve those languages.
4. What evidence does DeBlij employ to dismiss the notion that fewer languages will result in less human conflicts?
DeBlij correctly points out, that conflicts between humans result for a variety of reasons. A universal language is not likely to significantly reduce conflict.
5. How might loss of linguistic diversity increase and improve globalization?
Loss of linguistic diversity implies fewer languages and greater comprehension between global partners. One could argue that greater comprehension will reduce conflicts and disagreements caused by actors not understanding each other’s languages.
6. What is the fate that the billions of speakers of minority languages, locals, are born into? How does that differ from the fate into which you, me, and the hundreds of millions of other globals, were born?
Billions of locals are born speaking a minority, endangered language as their first language. In their home countries, K-12 education is rarely provided in their native language. Thus, their schooling often requires that they learn a second language. Hopefully, that language is one of the few that is commonly used in the globalized world: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese. Their challenges are much greater than those that we face. You and I, mobals, were born speaking English or Spanish, two closely related Indo-European languages. Once we learn these languages we have much easier access to globalization than a local.
7. DeBlij’s points out that a few languages dominate our globalized world. The world’s youngest country, South Sudan, chose English as its official language even though the country’s population contains no native English speakers. Hmmm.
The leaders of South Sudan have gambled that globalization is the best strategy to develop their fledgling country. Currently, English is the language of globalization.
8. Will English differentiate as happened to Latin? Why?
The Romans couldn’t prevent the differentiation of Latin into Spanish, French and Italian. English already has differentiated. The language is so far-flung and the majority of English-speakers speak it as a second or third language. The process of differentiation will probably continue until English-speakers in the US will, only with great difficulty, communicate with English-speakers in Nigeria or India. Or, possibly, global English will spawn several different related languages.
9. On what grounds does DeBlij classify Indo-European languages “world languages”?
DeBlij calls several Indo-European languages, especially English, “world languages” because they have spread far beyond their source region and native speakers.
10. On what grounds does DeBlij not designate Chinese a “world language”? Where is Mandarin Chinese spoken?
Mandarin Chinese is spoken the historic Han heartland in northern China and in the country’s eastern rim where much of the rapid industrialization has occurred during the past 3 decades. DeBlij does not designate Mandarin Chinese a world language because possibly only one half of Chinese citizens speak the language and the language has not spread to the same extent as English.
11. How did the French policy of assimilation ensure that French would become, and remain, a “world language”?
The French government insisted that the French language, values and culture would be taught in its colonies. The result is that French is the official language for several African countries that were formerly French colonies.
12. What is a lingua franca? How is English a lingua franca?
A lingua franca is a standard language that is used by non-native speakers in plural societies in the economic and/or political situations and higher education. English is language of international commerce and diplomacy and, increasingly, higher education. Thus, it serves as a lingua franca in much of the world.
13. How did European colonialism not erase, but rather simply increase multilingualism in the global periphery? Note how achieving fluency in a European language conferred higher status on colonial locals.
European colonies often were multi-lingual societies inhabited by many multilingual people. The introduction of a European language did not eliminate existing languages. Instead, some colonial subjects added the European tongue to their linguistic repertoire.
14. So, you are a local in a former European colony. You speak a minority language. What disadvantages do you face?
You might not have access to 12 years of education. You probably won’t have access to instruction in a European language. The lack of fluency in a European language precludes your active participation in globalization. You won’t be able to work in an out-sourced industry. It will also be more difficult for you to secure a job in the country’s governing or commercial elite.
15. You are one of the 3 billion locals who will be born in the next several decades. You will migrate to a major, fast-growing mega-city. What language will you speak with your peers? How will that language differ from the official or “standard” language in the country where you live? And, what does that suggest for the future of European “world languages”?
At home you’ll speak your native language with your parents. In the city often you’ll be interacting with people who speak different native languages. So, you and your peers will improvise a language that borrows terms from pop culture, jobs, and different native languages. That improvised language is not the standard language of your country, which might be a European world language. Because there are so many of you improvising languages, the standard language might become a minority language of only the elites. This has happened before. In Haiti the majority speak Creole, which is a hybrid of French and several African languages. The elite minority speak standard French.
16. Chico State has received money from the Chinese government to pay for Chinese language teachers. How is that related to a general process that the Chinese have undertaken?
As China’s economic and political power has grown, the Chinese government has sponsored the teaching of Chinese culture and language within the borders of it important trading partners. The purpose is to familiarize the world with China and to strengthen China’s international relationships. Chico State is just a small part of this process.
17. So isolated minority languages or locals are being lost, even as dominant world languages are facing pressure to hybridize. Interesting.
18. What evidence from Europe suggests that English is ascending as a global language?
There are 20 official languages in the European Union. English, increasingly is the language used to conduct its business. Meanwhile Central and Eastern Europe are in the process of making English fluency a basic skill expected of its educated citizens.
19. Look at Figure 2.4. How does it suggest that US citizens should not just assume that all Europeans soon will be fluent in English? My wife is a native of Sweden. She had 9 years of English education before she graduated from high school.
Figure 2.4 shows that there is wide variation in English fluency in Europe. More than 80% of Swedes are fluent. Fewer than 30% of Italians are.
20. Must a population in the global core be fluent in English or another world language? Why or why not? Use Japan in your answer.
No. Japan is an exceptional member of the global core. It has prevented large-scale migration of foreign workers to Japan. Also, its government has not successfully emphasized English fluency among its general population. Less than 1% of Japanese are fluent in English.