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A Multitude of Tongues: Exploring Linguistic Diversity
February 19, 2021 at 4:00 pm - 7:00 pm EST
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This Interintellect Salon will be conducted in English. Why English? Because it is the indisputably dominant language of the internet and, to a large extent, of the world. A lingua franca that facilitates communication between people from faraway cultures.
But English is only one out of 6,000 to 7,000 living languages. Human civilization contains enormous linguistic diversity, from the 820 indigenous languages of Papua New Guinea — the most diverse country — to the Indo-European languages, which have spread in much of the world. A lot of the world’s languages are endangered. Many are extinct already. Almost all are constantly changing, due to both societal progress and to contact with other powerful languages.
In this Salon, we’ll talk about the dynamics of linguistic diversity. What makes people choose to learn a language and perhaps, after a generation or two, forget the language of their ancestors? Why are some languages and dialects more prestigious than others? Is linguistic diversity important? Should we protect endangered languages? Will English remain the global language forever? Will it split into new languages over time? Is bilingualism good? Is linguistic purity worthwhile? How do languages influence culture and geopolitics?
And of course, how does linguistic diversity impact us at the personal level? Being monolingual, bilingual, or polyglot greatly affects our experiences. Many of us wish we could speak more languages. All of us know English, but we may have a special relationship with it.
Bring all the languages you know — even if it’s just a year of Spanish in high school — and let’s discuss! – Salon Host Étienne Fortier-Dubois
Good to read and watch pre-Salon:
- Overview of the largest language families
- Overview of the Indo-European languages
- English as a global language
- Can English remain the ‘world’s favourite’ language?
- The relationship between the ancient Akkadian and Sumerian languages
- The race to save the world’s disappearing languages
- 1 pm in San Francisco
- 4 pm in New York
- 9 pm in London
- 10 pm in Berlin
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