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Old 01-26-2009, 10:57 AM   #31
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It appears that the origin is disputed. The Online Etymology Dictionary says:

bastard
1223, "illegitimate child," from O.Fr., "child of a nobleman by a woman other than his wife," probably from fils de bast "packsaddle son," meaning a child conceived on an improvised bed (saddles often doubled as beds while traveling), with pejorative ending -art. Alternate possibly is that the word is from P.Gmc. *banstiz "barn," equally suggestive of low origin. Not always regarded as a stigma; the Conqueror is referred to in state documents as "William the Bastard." Figurative sense is from 1552; use as a vulgar term of abuse for a man is attested from 1830. Bastardize "debase" is from 1587.
Well, that's appropriate. The origins of most bastards are disputed ... so why not the word itself? It's got an elegant symmetry to it.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:34 PM   #32
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The French language is something perpetrated by a subportion of France on the rest of France, then the world, and despite failing to be the language of choice they still cling to it and attempt to enforce it.

If I remember correctly 150 years ago something like 20% of what is currently France spoke French. The rest spoke different languages.

The French should just learn English and accept that their language is not going to be the world's language.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:41 PM   #33
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Maybe we should all learn Latin, so as to have a genuine lingua franca that inconveniences everybody equally.
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Old 01-26-2009, 05:48 PM   #34
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Some form of simplified Chinese would be better than kids learning French in schools. Spanish is better than French, but even still it's not a huge advantage outside of South America. Latin is a good language to learn, with a basic grasp of Latin people can struggle by in most romance languages.

There is of course something to be said for learning a written language so you can read books in the language they were originally written. Translations are never as good as the original text. But attempts by governments to legislate a language are daft.
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Old 01-26-2009, 08:03 PM   #35
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Oops.
A paraphrase is almost always better than a quotation, as at least it shows a facility for original thought.

Cheers,
Marc
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Old 01-27-2009, 02:55 AM   #36
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The French should just learn English and accept that their language is not going to be the world's language.
Sorry, but I think that expecting someone else to learn YOUR language is one of the major failings of those of us fortunate enough to speak English as our native language. English speakers are notoriously bad at learning other languages, and that's a very bad thing, IMHO.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:33 AM   #37
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The French should just learn English and accept that their language is not going to be the world's language.
Most of us know that French is not going to rule the world as a language.
But english speakers must learn other languages as well, as it broadens your views and keeps you open to other cultures.

As there is no perfect translation and there are only adaptations, we need to keep the variety of languages that exist so that we can enjoy the texts in their original glory.

HarryT, I do agree with your comment about English speakders and other languages.
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Old 01-27-2009, 04:45 AM   #38
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As there is no perfect translation and there are only adaptations, we need to keep the variety of languages that exist so that we can enjoy the texts in their original glory.
I wouldn't think the ability to read old books was a compelling reason for humanity to keep a variety of languages. The benefits of a common tongue would greatly outweigh such a loss imho.

We have billions of years ahead of us, the sacrifice of a few centuries' cultural tradition seems a price worth paying . A common language would remove a significant cause of division between peoples in the coming millennia.
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Old 01-27-2009, 05:44 AM   #39
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I wouldn't think the ability to read old books was a compelling reason for humanity to keep a variety of languages. The benefits of a common tongue would greatly outweigh such a loss imho.
Im' not saying that we shouldn't have a common language, but that I don't think we're ready to lose the other languages yet.
The language is an important part of the culture of a country, and we should tend toward accepting cultural differences instead of removing them.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:35 AM   #40
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The language is an important part of the culture of a country, and we should tend toward accepting cultural differences instead of removing them.
Well said - I completely agree with you.
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Old 01-27-2009, 06:49 AM   #41
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Most of us know that French is not going to rule the world as a language.
But english speakers must learn other languages as well, as it broadens your views and keeps you open to other cultures.

As there is no perfect translation and there are only adaptations, we need to keep the variety of languages that exist so that we can enjoy the texts in their original glory.
Do you realise how well one must learn a foreign language in order to enjoy reading a fiction book (understanding all the subtlities and nacities of the language/text/novel)?
I am not sure you do.
Mind you, I am speaking about a certain level of knowledge of a certain language that is far superior to the level equal to be able to ask direction to the nearest loo in a foreign country.

As about this famous saying:
anyone "must learn other languages as well, as it broadens your views and keeps you open to other cultures"

I totally disagree with it.
There are plenty of opportunities to learn other cultures if you are interested. Just read the proper books or google for it on the Internet and you will learn a lot more about them than spending a huge chunk of your life to learn grammar and vocabulary of another language.

The simplest example is me. My first language is Russian, my second language used to be Hebrew and now it is English.
Learning language didn't broaden my understanding of the cultures who are using the languages at all, however, I am sure that if only a fraction of the time I spent on learning the languages I would spent on reading books about the cultures in my native language, I would learn so much more.

I sincerely envy people whose first language is English, and if I were one of them I would never waste my time on learning a different language as a hobby (unless one enjoyes learning languages, as one might enjoy reading books, or playing chess etc.). There is so much new and interesting in the world that you can learn instead of 3.000 foreign words. Or as a worst case scenario spend the time to advance in your carier.

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Old 01-27-2009, 06:59 AM   #42
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The language is an important part of the culture of a country, and we should tend toward accepting cultural differences instead of removing them.
Ah I see, personally I think the opposite is true; and cultural differences will erode with globalisation anyway - but time will tell.
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Old 01-27-2009, 07:07 AM   #43
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Ah I see, personally I think the opposite is true; and cultural differences will erode with globalisation anyway - but time will tell.
Unfortunatelly
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:00 AM   #44
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I don't know if the same thing has happened elsewhere, but here in the UK, the formal study of English grammar has very much "gone out of fashion" in schools, and the majority of people leave school today not equipped with the vocabulary to discuss language in any meaningful way. Use a word like "subjunctive" to most young people today and you'll get a blank look.

That, to my mind, is a great pity. I think that you miss many of the "subtleties" of great literature if you don't have a proper understanding of the grammar of your own language: eg, how many people today understand the distinction between "I will go" and "I shall go"? Authors like Dickens certainly understood it, and if the reader doesn't, he or she will lose something from the book.

These may be "old fashioned" views, but I firmly stand by them!
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Old 01-27-2009, 08:18 AM   #45
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I sincerely envy people whose first language is English, and if I were one of them I would never waste my time on learning a different language as a hobby (unless one enjoyes learning languages, as one might enjoy reading books, or playing chess etc.). There is so much new and interesting in the world that you can learn instead of 3.000 foreign words. Or as a worst case scenario spend the time to advance in your carier.
I am horrible at languages (even my own), but I am glad I speak two fluently and one haltingly (and one I should be able to speak, but can't )

Some books lose something in the translation. Try to read Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide in any other language than English...

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I don't know if the same thing has happened elsewhere, but here in the UK, the formal study of English grammar has very much "gone out of fashion" in schools, and the majority of people leave school today not equipped with the vocabulary to discuss language in any meaningful way. Use a word like "subjunctive" to most young people today and you'll get a blank look.

That, to my mind, is a great pity. I think that you miss many of the "subtleties" of great literature if you don't have a proper understanding of the grammar of your own language: eg, how many people today understand the distinction between "I will go" and "I shall go"? Authors like Dickens certainly understood it, and if the reader doesn't, he or she will lose something from the book.

These may be "old fashioned" views, but I firmly stand by them!
I find that's not only the problem with English education, it's the same here. The difference between "shall" and "will" is only the top of the iceberg. Try the difference between "then" and "than"... We have similar words ("als" and "dan") and people don't know when to use which... And those are words with a very distinct difference.
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