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HPSCHD-L  April 2001

HPSCHD-L April 2001

Subject:

Re: language arrogance and brevity

From:

Alan Watkins <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Harpsichords and Related Topics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 16 Apr 2001 14:06:37 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (69 lines)

Colin's explanation is probably the primary one.  Playing amateur
sociologist/market-researcher, however, I can think of some more localized
questions to be considered:

1) What percentage of all professional harpsichord *builders* (including kit
manufacturers) are primarily English speaking?
2) What percentage of all *harpsichords* (fully-built or kits) orginated
from the builders above? (the point being that I suspect Hubbard and
Zuckerman dominate).
3) What percentage of all harpsichord *players* (amateur or professional)
who use the internet regularly are primarily English speaking? (this
intersects somewhat with Colin's point, but it's a slightly more focused
statistic).
4) And then of course there's the sticky fact that what begins in one
language tends to attract people to use that language, and therefore builds
up a language momentum (so to speak).  So what are the primary languages of
the list founders and the very early list contributors?

I doubt anyone has non-anecdotal and non-speculative answers to the first
three, but if anyone does, I'd love to hear them.

In any event, I strongly doubt that the relative text efficiency of English
has anything to do with it.  I have a hard time imagining a native speaker
of a non-English language sitting down to compose an e-mail and deciding to
write in a non-native language *because it uses fewer bits.*  There's barely
(if any) economic incentive to do so, even in situations where connect time
is charged by time rather than flat-rate (as is typical in the US), since
the original *hand-generated* portion of an email is so small compared to
other things people tend to move around, like web-pages and downloads of
software or images, not to mention idle time of the connection.  In other
words, very few users pay by the e-mail bit, as far as I know (those few
that do are mostly wireless users, I believe, and not even common in that
subsection).

BTW, I'm happy to drop this if it's too "boring."

-----Original Message-----
From: Harpsichords and Related Topics
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Colin Whiteley
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2001 11:27 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: language arrogance and brevity


Hmmm... The British Empire, followed by American economic colonialism,
coming at the same time as the communications revolution, and the fact that
computer science was mostly developed by English speakers, may have more to
do with it than any inherent features of English! You can be sure that if
the dominant language in the world were French or Chinese, (or Swahili or
Bantu for that matter), native speakers would be telling us why this was the
most suitable language of all.

Colin

>
>
> JB scripsit:
>
> >I just ran into an interesting factoid:  One reason that English might be
> >favored as a common language is that things can be expressed
> with typically
> >30 percent fewer ASCII characters as compared to other major
> >languages.  Brevity!
>
> (This is just too tempting!)
>
> I am sometimes glad to note that it is the language used here!
>
> david

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