The Spread of Spoken languages

I’m gonna be specific here. This isn’t gonna be about a general explanation of the spread of languages, blah blah blah. But it does deal with the spread of spoken languages to territories,  whether near to or far from the country of origin.

The languages of a group move from territory to territory with its people. Spanish with Spanish-speakers to Miami, for example, English and Amerindian languages to Central America from St. Vincent, Trinidad English Creole to Canada and the US with students etc. These are some examples. More often than not, communities with native speakers of these languages are set up, and newcomers from the homeland can settle there no problem.

But what if Justin from Tennessee talks to Jessica from Port-of-Spain? Language is bound to follow them both. Yes they both speak English, but their individual Englishes are different. Can they communicate in English without using elements that only one of them could understand? Jose from Miami will prefer to speak to Tío Ángel in Spanish and speak in English to Drew. Is this right? Is this wrong? What if Drew knew Spanish fluently? What if he spoke it around Jose’s family or neighbours? Is it right or wrong? If a foreigner comes in speaking the language of the community, the response can be either negative or positive or I guess neutral, but that seems unlikely to me.

This is related to the article I wrote asking about the Deaf response to the Hearing using Sign language. My questions still apply.

But what about spoken languages. Should they come into contact with other spoken languages? Should they be spread, exchanged, borrowed from, adapted, or changed in any way? Or should they be confined to native speakers of that language, whether home or abroad? Is it alright for someone, who is not a native TEC speaker, to know what fast means in TEC  compared to fast in US Standard English? Cuz both are different.

I feel like the answer is no, because that’s how languages survive. But still when comparing it to signed languages, and Deaf culture, where it seems, at least in the States, from what I see, that people may be reluctant to let their particular native language spread past certain [social] boundries, that the same could happen among different spoken languages and their native users.

Is this the case in native users of a given Spoken Language? Why is this the case? Or why is it not the case? What about you personally? Should you learn theirs, or should they learn yours? Or leave well enough alone?

– K. ~


6 thoughts on “The Spread of Spoken languages

  1. I think the answer is pretty simple : case by case basis. There are no definitive answers for your questions, and what you find will be based on your experience. There is much more tied to language, than simply language. I’m sure you know about it, it’s tied with your tags – culture.

    It is not necessarily right or wrong for someone to talk in their home language in a group of outsiders, unless there is a perceived threat from such action. If the situation involves two people speaking the same language from different areas – as long as they want to communicate – they will accommodate for the initial (and perhaps ongoing) confusion.

    Languages only continue to grow and evolve as they mix with other languages and cultures. We don’t know what the result will be, because this is the first time this has ever happened. And it’s the first time it ever continues to happen. It’s hard to say whether it is good or bad that cultures are mixing – sometimes it results in great discovery, and other times great war. More often than not, both occur at the same time and in cycles.

    • I agree with that, but I did notice that some people, according to their culture and their individual link to languages, did tend to be hesitant or reluctant to …. Let’s say to allow (?) the spread of languages maybe because of the inherent link to the culture they’re from and/or left behind. I totally agree with you, though, it’s all legit. But some don’t see it that way, and I wanted to see their views too

      • Our language is something that is tied to all the emotions we feel, express, and share with others. The idea that someone doesn’t speak our language and that we can’t understand them right off the bat is a scary sort of thing.

        Thus, many people would rather preserve the sanctity of who they essentially are, rather than let another language and culture mesh. That’s all anthropology there.

        Now we can get into the psychology of individuals, and make a bridge in between the two – and sometimes, you don’t agree with someone – do you?

        You speak the same language, yet your ideas clash and you just can’t be around that person because you want to preserve your ideas (or “language.”) Symbols are so deeply embedded in language, and many people want to control ideas on what those symbols are.

        We all assume that we have the right ideas, because we speak the language we know best, and have had other people agree with and nurture our ideas, or disagree with and stifle them. Conditioning! No one escapes it, even alone in the woods. It’s what we humans do

      • That’s true. I totally get that. But looking at the culture between say signed and spoken languages. In that post someone hated the appropriation of ASL and use for personal gain. Now I asked about if cases where the student of ASL had just started, is not fluent in the language, but still posted videos using what they learned, and documenting their progress. Now I’m assuming you’re hearing, so in a hypothetical case where ASL is you’re native language, you don’t have to be deaf for it to be, and someone wanted to learn ASL. How would you feel about that, putting aside the social analyses of language movement and growth ?

      • Easier just to ask me what I think about someone learning my native language, which is – I would say – ‘southern mountain’ English. All I’d have to say about that is good luck, I don’t have a problem with it – but if you go around up in them conservative mountains, people are either gonna think you’re a novelty or really just hate you.

        I’m probably not the best person to ask (if you wanted an answer that verified what you believe, anyhow), being fairly liberal minded as I am. I don’t like to claim my language or culture, or rather, I don’t like to cling to it tightly.

        But again, in summary, what I would say: “Go for it. Good job. I’m proud of you for learning another language, for making your brain more elastic by taking in new ideas and especially in the form of another language, packed with culture and religion. There is so much to learn. I will help, if I can.”

      • Well that’s fine. Actually that’s good to know. Personally I remember when my friend was accepted into an American high school, and she’s from Trinidad by way of Canada. I remember I told her not to use Trini English across there, because it was special and I was protective over it for whatever reason. It was stupid actually, and I’m glad I better understand the situation now. But it was an attitude that persists no matter what. People change, others don’t. 😐

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