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Ekegusii Encyclopedic Projects................... Ekegusii Encyclopedic Project

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KENNEDY BOSIRE (projects):

NIGEL DEACON (webmaster):

Why we should worry when a language becomes endangered? Surely it's better if we all use English, or some other "universal" language? M.L., England

...If we all spoke a common language, then I guess that we could function reasonably well. We could chat about day-to-day matters, and talk superficially about many things. But think about two physicists or engineers discussing a technical problem.

In this situation, scientists use a different language to ordinary folk; - they use a special vocabulary, because it's the best way of conveying meaning accurately and quickly. They talk about photons, and proton-proton coupling, and Fourier Transforms. And if these are part of your work, there's no other way of describing them.

Now imagine a third person - a non scientist - joins the discussion. He doesn't know any of the key words. If he's going to understand what's going on, everything will have to be simplified, explained, or glossed over because there's no proper way of getting the meaning across. There's no common ground. Translating a scientific dialogue into ordinary speech means that some of the information- perhaps most of it - is lost.

It's the same with languages. There are ideas, concepts and even bodies of information which exist only in one language. They are specific to a people, and to a culture, and to a region. Sometimes, as in a scientific dialogue, they are not translatable without losing some of the content.

Are you saying that such ideas, concepts and information have no value?


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