Survey on language of postings 
Author Message
 Survey on language of postings

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted an article in comp.lang.c which
was (as far as I could tell) on-topic for the newsgroup, but which,
unusually for the newsgroup, was in Dutch.  This has led to some, how
shall I put this, sharply worded debate as to whether discussion
in the newsgroup should or should not be in English only.  I decided
to conduct a little survey in the newsgroup -- I hoped that there would
actually be a strong consensus on the question, and that when this was
pointed out, the debate would die quickly.

This hope was not realized.  The consensus was in favor of the use of
English only, but the numbers are not overwhelming, especially considering
that there were only 52 responses from the readers of so busy a newsgroup.

The conclusion seems to be that if you want to post in some other language
than English in comp.lang.c, then a considerable number of readers will
feel that you've acted improperly, while a considerable number of other
readers (including me, by the way) will feel that you haven't -- though
clearly your article will have a smaller readership.  There were a couple
of suggestions that you should restrict distribution if you do this: you
could post in French with distribution only to France, say.

The last thing to observe is that people in comp.lang.c generally are
getting pretty tired of this thread, and followups are directed, with
some emphasis, to news.misc.

And now, here are the results.  People were asked to agree with one
of two statements, or to write in a one-line response of their own.

The responses in favor of English only:

  "I think postings to comp.lang.c should properly be in English"






















  And write-ins in the same general vein as the above:

  "I think all postings to comp.lang.c should be in English"


  "I think that postings to comp.lang.c should be in English"


  "i think post to comp.lang.c should be in english"


  "I think that all posts to comp.lang.c should be in proper English"


  "I think postings to comp.lang.c should properly be in proper English"


  "ENGLISH unless distribution is local"


  "comp.lang.c postings with world distribution should be in English;
   more restricted distributions may use more suitable languages"


The responses in favor of all languages:

  "I think all languages can properly be used to post to comp.lang.c"

















  And the write-ins in the same general vein as the above:

  "I think all languages can properly be used to post on comp.lang.c"


  "I think all languages are acceptable, however it would be courteous
   if the subject announced which language it was in"


  "All languages should be OK.  But they're not helpful to monolinguals"


And there were 5 write-ins expressing other opinions, or declining
to express any opinion.

  "I believe it is an offensive waste of other people's resources
    to post in two languages (in the same message).  Messages should be
    posted in one appropriate language:
       1) A language widely understood by users of the net.
       2) The poster's first language"


  "English (most people now *use*) and Esperanto (country-neutral)"


  "comp.lang.c is conducted primarily in English"


  "I don't care, just get the non-C postings *out* of comp.lang.c!"


  "I think that comp.lang.c should not be used for surveys, dammit"


Thanks to everyone who responded, and once again, TAKE IT TO news.misc
IF YOU WANT TO SAY MORE.  Please.  S'il vous plait.  Bitte.  Por favor.
--
Mark Brader        "... given time, a generally accepted solution to this
Toronto             problem will evolve, as it has in the past for ... [other]
utzoo!sq!msb         issues, only to be replaced by the next issue, which no-one

This article is in the public domain.



Thu, 19 Oct 1995 14:46:44 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

Quote:

> The conclusion seems to be that if you want to post in some other language
> than English in comp.lang.c, then a considerable number of readers will
> feel that you've acted improperly, while a considerable number of other
> readers (including me, by the way) will feel that you haven't -- though
> clearly your article will have a smaller readership.  There were a couple
> of suggestions that you should restrict distribution if you do this: you
> could post in French with distribution only to France, say.

> The last thing to observe is that people in comp.lang.c generally are
> getting pretty tired of this thread, and followups are directed, with
> some emphasis, to news.misc.

Put me down as "Use the language of the newsgroup in all cases unless you
cannot effectively communicate in that language, in which case the header
should note a language change."

If I viewed a message in Dutch I wouldn't know what I was looking at or what
it was saying (and that's not limited to just Dutch). You should probably
use the language that the majority of readers and posters of a newsgroup
are already using. It doesn't take long (using a little commonsense) to
figure what basic language is being used in a newsgroup. Stick with it.

bill

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 Buy & Sell American When Possible!  <->  All Standard Disclaimers Do Apply!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------



Sat, 21 Oct 1995 16:37:57 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings
What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
of Americans is patently ridiculous.  If you don't understand the
language, hit the 'n' key. Just like you would do if it was in English
but you didn't understand the topic.

There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

bill

--
Bill Gunshannon          | "There are no evil thoughts, Mr. Reardon" Francisco

University of Scranton   |
Scranton, Pennsylvania   |         #include <std.disclaimer.h>  



Sun, 22 Oct 1995 20:03:46 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

Quote:

>What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

NOT - I'm Canadian not American.

.



Sun, 22 Oct 1995 22:30:20 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

   What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
   What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
   What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

Cute, but unfortunately too true.  I have studied other languages
in the past, but cannot claim to be at all competent in them.

   English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
   the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
   of Americans is patently ridiculous.  If you don't understand the
   language, hit the 'n' key. Just like you would do if it was in English
   but you didn't understand the topic.

   There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
   to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

Good points.  However, you do limit your readership (those who may
answer questions or benefit from your reply) by not posting in English
in a world-wide group where the pre{*filter*} language is English.  (I
think I've eliminated many regional and soc.culture groups from
discussion here, but left c.l.c.)  It's the poster's choice.  I expect
that more people (especially computer types) can read and write in
English than in any other single language.

Again, if the poster can write in comprehensible English and chooses
not to, the poster chooses to limit readership.
--

    employed by, not speaking for, AS&M Inc, at
         NASA LaRC, Hampton VA 23681-0001



Sun, 22 Oct 1995 23:14:54 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

Quote:
>What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American
>English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
>the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
>of Americans is patently ridiculous.  If you don't understand the
>language, hit the 'n' key. Just like you would do if it was in English
>but you didn't understand the topic.

But for better or for worse, Bill, English is the de facto 'standard'
language in a lot of different pursuits, including posting to the net.
Almost all of the people who can post to the net speak it, whether it
is their native language or not.  I would say that anyone *can* post
in any language they please, but they shouldn't be surprised if their
responses are limited.  I would also think that it would be mannerly
to restrict the distribution of non-English (de facto standard
language, remember?) postings to the geographical areas where those
languages are primarily spoken, but that's just a matter for
netiquette.

Quote:
>There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
>to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

And some of us very seldom see postings in the other languages we
speak because the people who are native speakers of those languages
understand what you may not; English *is* the de facto 'standard'
language of the net.

--
"Insisting on perfect safety is for people who don't have the balls to live
 in the real world."   -- Mary Shafer, NASA Ames Dryden
------------------------------------------------------------------------------



Mon, 23 Oct 1995 02:22:49 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings
Quote:

> What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
> What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
> What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

                                                       ^^^^^^^^
                                                       Chinese

Quote:

> English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
> the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
> of Americans is patently ridiculous.  If you don't understand the
> language, hit the 'n' key. Just like you would do if it was in English
> but you didn't understand the topic.

> There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
> to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

Ahem, I hate to disagree but I do believe the single largest group of
people in the world who speak one language is Chinese. Probably Mandarin
Chinese. It may be popular to bash the self-centered nature of Americans,
but I don't think we hold a monopoly on that trait. And it was NOT through the
success of Americans that English is now an international language. You
can credit the British Empire with that. British colonial successes (past
tense!) in North America (barely - the U.S. Continental Congress considered
making French or German the primary language, if I recall correctly), and in
India had wide-spread influence. Americans merely kept the ball rolling.

--



Tue, 24 Oct 1995 01:22:03 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

Quote:

>   What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
>   What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
>   What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

>Cute, but unfortunately too true.  I have studied other languages
>in the past, but cannot claim to be at all competent in them.

Having a degree in German (and a German wife), a degree in Linguistics,
and having studied French, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese, it's
difficult to say exactly what "competence" means.

FWIW, I learned that to be truly bilingual, one must be bicultural.
My wife has been on Canada for only 10 years.  Her (Canadian) English
is almost impeccable, with the occasional slip up with words beginning
with "w" or "v".  Yet she may not be familiar with the many things
that local folks learn as they pass from childhood to {*filter*}hood.
Nursery rhymes are a case in point.  How can she be expected to
understand a joke that a comedian makes, if he alludes to a
certain nursery rhyme or North American folk tale?

Competence is in the eyes/ears of the reader/listener.

Quote:
>   English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
>   the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
>   of Americans is patently ridiculous.  If you don't understand the
>   language, hit the 'n' key. Just like you would do if it was in English
>   but you didn't understand the topic.

>   There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
>   to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

>Good points.  However, you do limit your readership (those who may
>answer questions or benefit from your reply) by not posting in English
>in a world-wide group where the pre{*filter*} language is English.  (I

This is a chicken/egg scenario.  If more people posted to
"pre{*filter*}ly" English newsgroups in a non-English language, the
strong possibility exists that English will lose its "pre{*filter*}"
status.

Quote:
>think I've eliminated many regional and soc.culture groups from
>discussion here, but left c.l.c.)  It's the poster's choice.  I expect
>that more people (especially computer types) can read and write in
>English than in any other single language.

I can't speak for reading/writing, but I did learn that the number
one most popular first (i.e., native) language in the world,
based on the number of speakers, is Spanish.  English, however,
is the most popular _second_ language in the world.

Quote:
>Again, if the poster can write in comprehensible English and chooses
>not to, the poster chooses to limit readership.

Again, if the newsgroup's language of choice is pre{*filter*}ly English.

Food for thought:  Irish Gaelic and Welsh are thought to be dying
languages.  It's thought that Irish Gaelic will be toast by the end
of this decade/millenium.  Welsh, however, is the only language in
the world to have government funding to keep it alive.  E.g.,
there's a government funded TV station which speaks only Welsh.
However, is the pre{*filter*} language within the broadcasting
area Welsh?

I'm not saying newsgroups should be polylingual.  I am, however,
condemning the "we don't allow yer kind 'round here" attitude.
This isn't a flame, so don't take it personally.  I'm just
making my personal statement.
--
Jim Carroll                   | "Big fleas have little fleas,

                              |  and little fleas have lesser fleas,
#include <std-disclaimer.h>   |  and so, ad infinitum."



Wed, 25 Oct 1995 00:01:39 GMT  
 Survey on language of postings

Quote:

>What do you call a person who speaks 3 languages??   Tri-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 2 languages??   Bi-lingual
>What do you call a person who speaks 1 language??    American

>English is not the native language of the majority of the world and
>the concept that everyone else in the world should bend to the whim
>of Americans is patently ridiculous.

Nowhere as ridiculous as drawing the conclusion "Americans are ramming their
culture down everyone's throats" from the fact "English has become a de
facto lingua franca".

Quote:
>There are some of us who can read/speak other languages and we are glad
>to answer questions for people even if they don't speak English.

Nowhere near as many as I can speak and understand and use.  But that doesn't
mean that I should refrain from belaboring the obvious (about English having
become a de facto lingua franca) for the sake of appeasing someone's
misbegotten sensibilities.


Wed, 25 Oct 1995 16:12:47 GMT  
 
 [ 9 post ] 

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