You taught me language and my profit on’t is I know how to curse

There have been lots of discussions about ‘The Tempest’ lately around here. The quote by Caliban really got me thinking about the ways that languages interact and whether one’s culture is so embedded in a language that it would be damaging to a whole group in society if they were to lose their native language. Australia has been named as one of the places where more languages are being lost due to the aggressive nature of English Language to dominate all that goes before it. A quick flick on the internet shows you how prevalent English is. Even languages that try hard to resist are not completely successful as their young people decide that English is much cooler. A good example of this is the French. They love their langauge, they gave us great thinkers such as Derrida and Foucault whose thinking was quintessentially French. they have tried to rid themselves of English notoriously through large government bodies designed to ‘fix’ their language. However, French textbooks today will contain phrases such as ‘Le Weekend’ and ‘Le sandwich’. Kids say things are ‘cool’ and ‘ok’. The Academie must be turning in it’s grave! If the French can’t beat this language colonialism what hope do Aboriginal Australian language groups.
Australians are the most assertively monolingual people in the world. Aboriginal languages are seen as hard to learn and difficult to pronounce. What hope have they got. Will be be living in an Australia that is happy to call a small country town ‘Warragul’ ( a Koorie word for dingo), but refuses to allow a voice to the many languages that people need to use to define their culture?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s