language and mind

November 6, 2011

Tongue entanglement, part one

Filed under: language, language autonomy, language bias, language use — teresapelka @ 8:31 am

Language is often taken for granted or given the regard for the humanity’s unloved child. RTE One show, The Limits of Liberty — narrative by Diarmaid Ferriter, according to what I got from RTE over the web — was a classic. Mr. Ferriter avouched that people spoke English in Ireland out of cultural submissiveness. You cannot dominate someone who does not speak your language, and the English speak English, he observed. 

Well, you could not make a prodigal son or daughter of language. It does not spend much, and it can bring a lot: most businesses in Ireland work on English language papers and cash. People have business talks with partners from round the world, not only English-speaking countries. Getting rid of all that would not be freedom; it would be fanaticism and financial ruin.

Show authors recognized two kinds of power. The police and the military were the ‘hard power’. Language was the ‘soft power’. Well, saying ‘come in’  is physically more efficient than carrying people into rooms, especially if wholesome. Yet saying ‘fish and chips’ does not give one a Leo Burdock, unless there is the cash to make the deal.

Historically, the power hypothesis does not have ground. Invaders always were fiercer on people they could not comprehend. Nowadays, political debates may prove that humans are phylogenetically capable of days and more of language production without any influence to thinking or decision making. ;)

I have looked for a corpus of Irish English: autonomous language environments always have own corpora. Google brings Gaelic-English glosses if you key in ‘Irish English dictionary’. Limerick university would not focus on Irish English offering courses. The International Corpus of English requires a request form and does not promise anything.

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