Posts Tagged ‘French’

French, Mandarin, Indo-European Languages; Why Multilingualism Brings Higher Wisdom

June 14, 2019

Multilingualism is a basic human capability, long honed by biological evolution. It may be necessary to achieve the highest mental capabilities, as multilingual speakers learn to adjudicate between modes of expression, the most advanced form of thinking.

So which languages? Excellent article by my frenemy Mehdi Lazar, summarizing well most of the situation with French:”The New Dynamic of French In The World.”. To point out that French and Mandarin are the most important languages (with English, de facto lingua franca) is crucial. Indeed, French is basically the core language of Europe: it is grammatically impoverished Latin bastardized with German prepositions, where many words have been phonetically and alphabetically simplified from the Latin originals. English was an afterthought. French is a fast evolving language (hopefully to go with fast minds).

This understates reality: for example North Africa spoke Latin for 900 years before the Arab invasion. Modern Latin, that is French, is widely understood, practiced and spoken in the Maghreb (in spite of efforts by local dictators of Islamist inspiration to kill it). Africa, light green, has to speak Latin derived languages (including English), because there are way too many native languages (or slave derived languages like Swahili)

Compare say the French “opital” from the original Latin “hospitalis”… English, which is actually more conservative than French, is in between with “HoSpital”: the H and S are still pronounced in English, not in French. The french found that the aspired H in the beginning, the S in the middle, and the “IS” at the end, were all useless, so they dropped them!

English, although technically classified as a “Germanic” language is mostly poorly pronounced French, and the more so, the more sophisticated the vocabulary is (85% + of words in common). Naturally, per its central position in Western Europe, French is then a happy medium between English and the other “romance” languages.

Now the baby elephant in the porcelain shop is that unruly child of Great Britain and France, the USA. Ironically enough, the dreaded “Anglo-Saxons” contribute to French by often going back to the Latin, that is, the original French, and creating words that way.

Here is an example: impact. The word appeared in English circa 1600, for “press closely into something,” from Latin impactus, past participle of impingere “to push into, drive into, strike against”. The word appears in French science and technological vocabulary only in 1824. But not just that, it’s an extremely important word, as it expresses the transmission of force (= how things act upon each other). Thus, in US English it has come to be used, since the 1990s as a… verb. As in: this essay impacts linguistics hard.

Thus it’s only a matter of time before the French verb “impacter” appears… and it would be a very useful verb… created as words should be created in French, going to the original Latin.

Another view: this time more of Africa shows up. Erroneously, but it’s a traditional error, English is not viewed as a Greco-Roman language (although it is fundamentally Greco-Roman, with more than 85% sophisticated words basically French…

Multilingualism is natural, humanity evolved as multilingual: our brains are made to learn several languages, and it enables us to better learn to adjudicate thoughts and forms of expression.

How so? Transportation was extremely difficult in the world of the past, except in those few places with steppe (like the Eurasian steppe, which goes from Hungary to Korea, that enormous freeway in the middle of Eurasia). Thus people evolved many languages even over very short distances. An example is Senegal: in this small countries, seven languages evolved, and some are tonal (Serer) and others not (Wolof). This is typical of the past, so human beings had to be multilingual.

However, there are only that many languages one can learn: French and Mandarin are the great linguistic anchors of the world, a continent apart.

But not just this: except for deplorable episodes such as the ephemeral collapses of the Greco-Roman and Chinese states under the invasions of various savages, Western Europe and China have long been at the forefront of civilization, spearheading progress. Learning basic Chinese arithmetic is fascinating: the Chinese found more rational ways to do it.

The state of Qin and the contemporaneous Roman Republic were remarkably based on the same principles of law, reason and technological progress… and that’s why they founded great empires (alive and well to this day, as descendant regimes). Actually the present inchoate world government embodied by the United Nations rests on Roman Republican legal principles, or even the letter of the Roman law (that’s similar to the Qin obsession with law… which was even applied to one of its most ardent proponent, a famous Qin PM who finished quartered by horses, as the law prescribed for the sort of corruption he had unfortunately engaged in…)

China understood the importance of intellectualism (the “Mandarin” examination system) and science… And that is why China was so successful, and the anchor civilization of East Asia (Japan and Vietnam used to employ Chinese character… Although the French switched Vietnam, and japan evolved a bit on its own…) Thus, from all this will to advanced thinking, China invented many technologies the world uses now. Even in the Nineteenth Century, Chinese drilling for natural gas, one kilometer down, or more, was the world’s most advanced.

The Frankish empire, both Merovingian and Carolingian, soon renamed itself “Renovatio Imperium Romanum”. Indeed, it “renovated” Rome on way better principles: no more terrorizing, stupidifying, sordid Christian fanaticism… and, soon enough, no more slavery: Saint Queen Bathilde outlawed the slave trade in 655 CE… Throughout much of Western Europe. So when the Franks invaded England in 1066, they freed the 20% of slaves there. These philosophical changes had huge economic, social and military impacts… 

Thus learning French and Mandarin is not just about speaking what many speak, and will speak. It’s about learning what made civilization what it has become… including learning the grave errors which made it so much better.

The “mission civilisatrice” is not over, it’s just starting. It’s not just a matter of feeling, and being, superior, it’s a matter of surviving. And not just for this species, but for the entire biosphere. You all will learn to think better, or you will learn to die, sordid. Go multilingual!

Patrice Ayme

Tangled Network of Civilization

February 24, 2015

Civilization is like a living organism, it’s even a living creature which has to be created again continuously.

Consider a few examples:

Monetary policy is a serious issue. We should discuss this in secret, in the Eurogroup,” Jean-Claude Juncker, then chief of the Eurogroup, said at a Brussels conference on economic governance in 2011.

Indeed. Juncker allowed some of the largest plutocratic institutions in the world to escape taxes, in the order of trillions of dollars. He is, morally, a criminal, one of the most prominent. Thus, he is in charge.

Mr. Dijsselbloem replaced Mr. Junk. He is sour. He has a problem with the Greeks.

Westerners Came From The Orient

Westerners Came From The Orient

Or, more exactly, the Middle Earth. On top, in orange, the Steppe Origin of English, 6500 years old. On bottom, the Anatolian origin, older by 2,500 years. In an intermediate theory, Anatolian roots went up to the steppe, first. This sounds more natural, because the first cities came from Anatolia. Agriculture followed an even more southern route, through Crete and other Greek islands. In any case, (white man) language then went down to India.

Dijsselbloem is chief of the Eurogroup, since 2012, he whispered to Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister. Congratulations, you just killed the Troika!”. Varoufakis said:”Wow!”

Dijsselbloem does not represent the Troika… So what does he represent? The desire for a career similar to that of the guy who took over the party that Dijsselbloem joined straight out of high school.

That guy, Kok, became Prime Minister of the Netherlands, and later, after stepping down in 2002, became one of the most importantly rewarded politicians in the European Union, getting onto countless boards of “private” companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell, the ING bank, the privatized TNT-Post, etc.

Professional politicians ought to be outlawed, just like professional slave traders have been. And for the same reasons.

Civilization needs to be defended. Against the atavistic impulsion of the few to kill and abuse the many.

The CEO of HSBC, a bank suspected by authorities to finance hard drug networks and Al Qaeda, among other unsavory activities, is 55 years old. In 2003, 12 years ago, this remarkable creature got a secret bonus, worth ten million dollars or so. The bonus was so secret that nobody at the present HSBC knew about it. The money was in Singapore (did I need to say so?)

As Mr Junck above said, financial conspiracies are best conducted in secret. Only thus are they highly profitable. All the so called “Dark Pool” money passes through numbered accounts, diamonds, drugs, weapon and terror… to get cleaned and untraceable. HSBC Switzerland had 1,500 secret Saudi accounts.

As the Libyan dictator charged with his entire tank army into rebel Benghazi, after proclaiming all rebels would be kill to the last, the French Republic was right to destroy it. Civilization has to be saved, and this starts with destroying the enemies of civilization and humanity. However, after some French troops helped in the taking of Tripoli, the West got cold feet, and then unwisely left Lybia to its own instruments.

The situation in Libya was not going to be simple.

The West had a duty to send ground troops and help set-up a highly federalized society, where the oldest civilization could thrive again. Several part of vast Libya are vastly pre-Islamist, and even pre-Hellenistic.

But Libya is part of the roots of the West: Roman emperors’ families came from there. So Libya, and these roots, have to saved, just because they remind us of, and preserve, the reasons that helped bring us where we are. So they explain us, and embody our principles.

Some of the people who are the direct descendants of one of the oldest civilization fight for that, and their 3,200 year old Tifinagh alphabet. They need help. We did not give it to them. In no small reason because we obey force.

After he caged the FNL (Algerian Front National de Liberation) leader, (then French president) De Gaulle went to negotiate with him. Why? Not because Ben Bella was right and carrying the torch of civilization. No. Just because Ben Bella was strong. Being the leader of a terrorist group.

De Gaulle thought he could make Ben Bella an offer he could not refuse, gangster to gangster. (‘I give you Algeria, and also the Sahara with the oil, and the people therein who hate your guts, in exchange you give me UN votes.’) It was favorable to Ben Bella and the FNL, but De Gaulle just wanted to cleanse France from the non-French Algerians (I withdrew momentarily the appropriate epithets).

This is no way to build civilization.

At some point, it used to be fashionable, in the USA, to accuse some (typically French) intellectuals of “Orientalism”. (Those behind the fashion could be tracked to oil interests, of course.)

However, “Orient” was the notion used even before the rise of Rome… In fear of the future rise of something in Occident: as agriculture migrated West, with the rains, people in the Middle East could guess that the next superpower would be in the West (the sacred prophecies were kept in Republican Rome, as the most sacred book).

We are all from the Orient, and recent genetic studies have show just this: as agriculture migrated west, so did the farmers, through the Aegean islands such as Crete (the first publications on the genetics of this appeared in 2014, although the overall theory is much older).

The New York Times has this long article on the origin of English, the “Tangled Roots of English”, admitting finally that some cherished notions of linguistic are silly. Well, the silliness goes further than that: French (Germanized, abstracted and simplified Latin) and English (greatly a Franco-Normand invention), have about 80% words in common.

So the tree of linguistics is wrong. It’s not a tree. Just as with genetics, it’s more a network than a tree.

And it’s of course the same with civilization: a network, not a tree, and one, with many roots, not many, with no roots.

We come from everywhere, thus everywhere is our business. There is no civilization but civilization, and entanglement is its nature.

Patrice Ayme’