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Why not just one Scandinavian language?

 Language Learning Forum : Skandinavisk & Nordisk Post Reply
69 messages over 9 pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 7 ... 8 9 Next >>
OlafP
Triglot
Senior Member
Germany
Joined 3625 days ago

261 posts - 667 votes 
Speaks: German*, French, English

 
 Message 49 of 69
08 March 2010 at 1:35am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
I have a great solution to all this: Esperanto!!


Yep, great solution. The only question is: for whom?
Outsourcing IT services to countries where people are willing to work for next to nothing is possible only because customers in many countries accept to struggle with their broken English instead of insisting on language support for the money they're paying. It shouldn't be too hard to extrapolate what would happen if all without exception agreed on one single language. Most of my collegues in our branch in Canada lost their jobs one year ago because all English language support was transferred to India. The ones who make sure that the same thing is unlikely to happen to me are the "stubborn" French.

There are lots of people around who speak French well and at the same time have good technical skills. But if companies only look for those who work for the lowest wages, they will face problems. You only get what you pay for. And why can't they pay people with the right skills? Because they have to compete with companies that outsource everything to India. Thus we've come full circle.

We've had several English cases transferred back to Europe lately, because the customers where pissed off by the service they got or they can't understand the strong accents when phone calls are necessary. (Due to the fact that we're dealing with development of server software, we do most things by mail. You wouldn't want to read out log files or code samples on the phone.) When they ask us how to prevent cases from being transferred to India, we respond: French, German, and Swedish are the languages we support by contract. If one of them is your native language then use it, but don't send us any mails in English.
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spanishlearner
Groupie
France
Joined 3644 days ago

51 posts - 81 votes 
Speaks: Spanish*

 
 Message 50 of 69
08 March 2010 at 3:48am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
Everyone who remembers my rants from a few months back will recall that I have a great solution to all this: Esperanto!! Extremely easy to learn, fair on all, neutral and free of cultural undertones.


Only a fanatic would hope to replace a language rich in culture and heritage for what amounts to little more than a code.
2 persons have voted this message useful



Volte
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Switzerland
Joined 4629 days ago

4474 posts - 6724 votes 
Speaks: English*, Esperanto, German, Italian
Studies: French, Finnish, Mandarin, Japanese

 
 Message 51 of 69
08 March 2010 at 3:10pm | IP Logged 
spanishlearner wrote:
cordelia0507 wrote:
Everyone who remembers my rants from a few months back will recall that I have a great solution to all this: Esperanto!! Extremely easy to learn, fair on all, neutral and free of cultural undertones.


Only a fanatic would hope to replace a language rich in culture and heritage for what amounts to little more than a code.


Please read the forum before making inflammatory statements; Esperanto culture has been discussed quite a few times, in varying amounts of depth. Esperanto is rich in culture and heritage as well - not to the same degree, obviously, but quite a bit has come into existence over the last century.

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cordelia0507
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4028 days ago

1473 posts - 2176 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*
Studies: German, Russian

 
 Message 52 of 69
08 March 2010 at 9:19pm | IP Logged 
Volte wrote:
Esperanto is rich in culture and heritage as well - not to the same degree, obviously, but quite a bit has come into existence over the last century.


Absolutely. And Esperanto is only a hundred years and a bit younger than a few very influential countries I could think of... Whose culture happen to dominate the world right now...


@ Olaf re outsourcing to cheaper countries: I totally agree with your observations and I am glad that French and other people refuse to put up with tech support in broken English and quite often that is not the only complaint. I work in IT too and could say A LOT more about this... I do not support this type of globalism though.

However don't forget that French call centers can operate from North Africa with French speaking staff for a third of what it costs to operate in Europe. Apparently this is getting fairly common although I have no personal experience of it.

And did you hear that a lot of Scandinvaian and German support is done from the Baltic States? Again - like it or not, the cost is less than half of the cost in "old" EU. I read a story about it in a Swedish paper - they visited a really nice looking call centre somewhere in Estonia. The Swedish section had "dalahästar", midsommarstång and so on and it actually looked like a very nice and relaxing place to work (compare British or Indian call centre - ugh!!!)

The staff said that all the Swedish customers simply assumed that they were Swedish speaking Finns which is no big deal at all. According to the article there were also similar call centres in Latvia.

German was the "big" language used in these call centres. I have no idea what the Baltic accent might sound like to a German person, but I do know that Baltic people are like sponges with languages -- I always get impressed, so many people are trilingual or even more! These companies went straight to the university and hired university graduates in Scandinavian languages. Not sure if I think this is the best way to put a language degree to use --- i.e. routing peoples calls about insurance or mail order.

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portunhol
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
thelinguistblogger.w
Joined 4442 days ago

198 posts - 299 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: German, Arabic (classical)

 
 Message 53 of 69
16 March 2010 at 6:00pm | IP Logged 
I find myself agreeing with Cordelia. I have often wondered how long it will take English to truly marginalize Dutch and the Scandinavian languages. Such an impressive command of the Lingua Franca can be a very two-edged sword.

I wonder if the Scandinavians would benefit from observing the Portuguese. The recent Portuguese spelling reform has unified the language greatly. All Portuguese speaking countries had to make reforms. People are free to pronounce the language however they wish. Multiple small changes over time that end up constituting a greater change are easier to deal with than one big change all at once.

It is useful to remember that, at least right now, there is no strict scientific difference between a language and a dialect. Arabic and Chinese dialects are much more diverse than all of the Scandinavian or former Yugoslavian languages. Tradition and a communist government keep the Cantonese, Shanghaiese and Mandarin speakers all calling what they speak Chinese. Arabic is the language of the Koran and Islamic brotherhood is strong. What are the odds that the Moroccans are ever going to say that they don't speak Arabic even though they can’t really understand the Lebanese or Sudanese without the help of an artificially created dialect?

I think many of Jeff’s comments are very sound. Many Americans complain about not being able to understand Indian immigrants and yet, when most of us want to, we can understand them quite well. Many of us are just too lazy to make the effort. I have seen very similar examples in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. It seems like the same is true for many of the Scandinavians.

I suggest that the three governments make a small spelling reform towards unifying the three major languages and see what happens after that. If the people fall in line, or even end up liking it, then another small change can be made after that, and so on and so forth.
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davidwelsh
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3719 days ago

141 posts - 307 votes 
Speaks: Lowland Scots, English*, Norwegian, Esperanto, Swedish, Danish, French
Studies: Polish, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Pali, Mandarin

 
 Message 54 of 69
17 March 2010 at 11:53pm | IP Logged 
portunhol wrote:
I suggest that the three governments make a small spelling reform towards unifying the three major languages and see what happens after that. If the people fall in line, or even end up liking it, then another small change can be made after that, and so on and so forth.


There is no chance of this working. It has already been tried in Norway.

The Norwegian government tried for decades to introduce gradual spelling reforms to merge the two different forms of Norwegian into one. There was such huge and protracted resistance that in the end they simply had to give up and accept that there will be two different written standards of Norwegian in perpetuity.
1 person has voted this message useful



Julien71
Tetraglot
Groupie
United States
Joined 3562 days ago

42 posts - 52 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, German, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Hungarian

 
 Message 55 of 69
18 March 2010 at 2:01am | IP Logged 
cordelia0507 wrote:
However don't forget that French call centers can operate from North Africa with French speaking staff for a third of what it costs to operate in Europe. Apparently this is getting fairly common although I have no personal experience of it.


I agree, it’s now fairly common for French companies to outsource their call centers to Maghreb countries. For instance, local employees in these call centers in Morocco or Tunisia are selected for their perfect accent like a native French person, so that you have no idea you’re dealing with somebody who’s not physically located in France.

If you read French, here are a couple of interesting articles on this topic:
http://gwethguy.wordpress.com/2008/02/06/l%E2%80%99afrique-f rancophone-gagnee-par-la-delocalisation-des-services/
http://www.zdnet.fr/actualites/internet/0,39020774,39139405, 00.htm
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Impiegato
Triglot
Senior Member
Sweden
bsntranslation.
Joined 3623 days ago

100 posts - 145 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, Italian
Studies: Spanish, French, Russian

 
 Message 56 of 69
20 March 2010 at 2:01pm | IP Logged 
portunhol wrote:
I find myself agreeing with Cordelia. I have often wondered how long it will take English to truly marginalize Dutch and the Scandinavian languages. Such an impressive command of the Lingua Franca can be a very two-edged sword.

I wonder if the Scandinavians would benefit from observing the Portuguese. The recent Portuguese spelling reform has unified the language greatly. All Portuguese speaking countries had to make reforms. People are free to pronounce the language however they wish. Multiple small changes over time that end up constituting a greater change are easier to deal with than one big change all at once.

It is useful to remember that, at least right now, there is no strict scientific difference between a language and a dialect. Arabic and Chinese dialects are much more diverse than all of the Scandinavian or former Yugoslavian languages. Tradition and a communist government keep the Cantonese, Shanghaiese and Mandarin speakers all calling what they speak Chinese. Arabic is the language of the Koran and Islamic brotherhood is strong. What are the odds that the Moroccans are ever going to say that they don't speak Arabic even though they can’t really understand the Lebanese or Sudanese without the help of an artificially created dialect?

I think many of Jeff’s comments are very sound. Many Americans complain about not being able to understand Indian immigrants and yet, when most of us want to, we can understand them quite well. Many of us are just too lazy to make the effort. I have seen very similar examples in the Spanish and Portuguese speaking world. It seems like the same is true for many of the Scandinavians.

I suggest that the three governments make a small spelling reform towards unifying the three major languages and see what happens after that. If the people fall in line, or even end up liking it, then another small change can be made after that, and so on and so forth.


Regarding your first paragraph: Proficiency in English among Scandinavians and Dutch people does not mean that we would prefer to speak it more often with relatives or friends, and that is needed if we want to replace Swedish/Danish/Norwegian/Dutch with English.

I think most people underestimate the emotional factor: we want to speak Swedish with a wife or girlfriend if we are born in Sweden, even if this wife or girlfriend is not from Sweden. Likewise, she will probably prefer to speak her mother tongue with her man. Furthermore, I guess that most Swedes definitely prefer to use Swedish sites or sites with all text written in Swedish in order to buy someting from the web.

Then what is all this about in the end? TRUST! I think this is the main reason psycologically. You cannot market anything without gaining trust from the customers.
Why do you think food in Switzerland is marked with lables written in several languages even if the person buying the food can understand any of them? Why does the supermarket find it profitable to make all these translations?

Regarding your second paragraph about Portuguese and the spelling reform: I dislike the thought of making a comparison between Portuguese in Portugal, Brazil, Angola etc. and the Scandinavian languages. I don't have very much knowledge in this field, but I presume that the Scandinavian languages differ more than the Portuguese dialects in different parts of the world. Aren't the variants of Portuguese still very similar, and mostly about phonetics.

For instance, how many grammatical differences are there between European Portuguese and South-American Portuguese? What about vocabulary, then? If you compare Swedish and Danish you will discover that the phonetic systems are diverse, there are hundreds of words that are completely different, additional hundreds of words with other nuances, and quite a number of false friends.

Edited by Impiegato on 20 March 2010 at 7:12pm



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