The following is a response to an on-going debate I have with a friend who seems to think that certain government mandates are contributing to the downfall of every culturally native language except English. He also states that English should not be the main language in America, as other countries make up America, i.e. Canada, Mexico, Brazil, etc. He proceeds to quote PhD holders from UCLA to back-up that English is not the only "living language", and should not be the only one used. So, I quoted the books I had from people that were NOT PhD holders. My argument is the following response:
"I don't know if you're agreeing or disagreeing, so I'll put it another way ... languages have survived without governments, and if someone wants to use "government" as a crutch that "all" languages survive or die, that's poppycock. I'm not going to learn 15 different languages so that I can speak with my neighbors, but if you move here from another country then you better damn well learn English. (Just as I would have to learn a native language if I moved to another country). Or, as an aside, I would learn their language as secondary to my English.
Lingua Franca – Norman French hybrid language (Italian, Spanish, German, Latin, etc.) English is considered to be the first global lingua franca. I have no use for PhD pedantry that can otherwise be proved by the history of formulated usage. "Living language" is used as a metaphor for something still in use and continually changing. Something evolves from nothing but a quick fix for words stemming from a group of certain cultures in order to communicate. English has metamorphed its phonological, morphological, syntactic, semantic, and intonation theories into one that is a rapidly rising global standard. David Crystal (Patron of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) and David Graddol are (knighted British) pioneers in sociolinguistics regarding this global change. (In case the folks over at UCLA forgot where modern English came from - it's from the Brits and Old English). 83% of English vocabulary is Germanic in origin. (Brought by the Romans who swept through NW Germany, which also encompassed Norman French and Spain and also encompassing their native Latin) – (A Grammar of Proto-Germanic - Jonathan Slocum and Winfred P. Lehmann.) That being said, the rest of the percentages are made up of French, Latin, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Greek, and a small percentage that is of unknown origin (Origins of English Language - Joseph Williams). (Police is a French origin word, yacht is a Danish word, computer (der Komputor) is a German word).
(Native languages of Britain before the Romans arrived, I'll save for another story.)
Pidgin Language – language created under stressful times that evolve over time (Creole, for instance, or your Mussolini anecdote). The unknown percentage of the evolution of modern English can be explained as words created from a pidgin language. Slaves often developed their own language. (Monolingualism of the Other - Jacques Derrida).
Latin, (from Latium along the Tiber River), is considered by many a dead language. However, it is still in use in the Roman Catholic Church, but nowhere else. Either way, it hasn't evolved – (wordsmithing here) – not a living language. Sanskrit is a precursor of Greek and Latin and Avestan (Zoroastrian) is an early relative of Persian (Sir William Jones). Both of these languages gave Greek and Latin words, but not structure, according to modern philology. Neither are used in their original forms, (although studied purely for their linguistic historical importance), and are considered dead languages. (By your PhD arguments, studying a language is keeping it alive, as the people who study it also speak it.) When English evolved from the above statements, the English language gave structure to these words – and the structure has changed since it's humble beginnings. (The Indo-European Dialects - Antoine Meillet). (The Discovery of Language - Holgar Pederson).
So, with all that said, it looks like to me that borrowings are the ONLY way a language changes, and thus, survives. It's BECAUSE the English langauge has borrowed that it survives by changing and adapting unlike any other language.
My great-grandparents, whom came here legally, did not speak a lick of English when they arrived here. But, they did instill in their children that German was not to be spoken at home, only English, in order to communicate and live in this New Country. I'm sick and tired of not being able to communicate with the amalgam of Spanish speakers at my school because they REFUSE to speak English.
No one is stating that native languages be lost, rather, English should be the one everyone speaks IN ADDITION TO their native language, whatever that may be.
Also, last time I checked, our Constitution was written in English, not a little bit of this and a little bit of that from the rest of "America"".
Respect is taken, when respect is given ...
Namaste and Slainte