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Should the Cultural Discussions forum be English-only?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Outsider, Jan 29, 2007.

  1. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    This thread was motivated by the following remark made in the middle of an unrelated discussion:

    (You can find the discussion by clicking on the blue arrow in the left, to see the context.)

    I want to start by saying that I entirely disagree with Setwale. My answer to people who are unable to read a post because they don't know the language is "Read another one". There are certainly plenty of others written in English!

    I think that demanding English will only discourage people from contributing.

    What do others think about this?

    I do not remember seeing another thread here about this, but if there was one already please merge this one with it. There was, however, this related discussion in the Comments and Suggestions forum.
     
  2. Thomsen Senior Member

    Washington, D.C.
    English USA
    I'm not sure this is a cultural thread and it maybe be closed. But no I don't think so. That said the conversation may be disjointed if it occurs in 12 languages because most people wouldn't understand the majority of them.
     
  3. Rayines Senior Member

    Buenos Aires
    Castellano/Argentina
    Hello Outsider: Not that I would be a great "writer" in the Cultural Forum, but most of times I "skip" it because of the effort that would represent for me to express some thoughts in English (further than my grammatical explanations in the other forums). But I think "well", English is the universal language here, then....What do you think? Should it be possible to create some Cultural Forum in another language/s?
     
  4. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I understand the practicality of English, and 99% of my contributions to this forum were in English, too. However, I think it's interesting to hear from all posters who wish to contribute, regardless of their proficiency in English.

    I also understand that it might be convenient to keep each particular thread in a single language, but I have seen some very interesting discussions here that had whole sections in a different language than the initial post.
     
  5. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    אילו כתבתי בעברית מעט מאוד אנשים כאן היו מבינים אותי (*)
    but with other languages that is not the case. When I see a post in a language I don't know at all, I just skip it. We are all brilliant, insightful social commentators, I know, but the world will not end if I do not understand every single scintillating comment. :p

    On the other hand, I would be happy to see more CD threads in languages other than English, both to facilitate things for people who have trouble expressing themselves in English and to challenge (and, I hope, improve) my "other language" skills.

    (*) Translation: If I wrote in Hebrew, very few people here would understand me
     
  6. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    Actually I like that some foreros write in Spanish as it gives me a chance to practice my Spanish. I understand that not everybody wants to learn Spanish but since we all here are language lovers there is no need to require to use only English. I guess that Spanish writing foreros are already aware that not everybody will be able to read their postings and have chosen to write in Spanish anyway.
     
  7. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    This is my first thought.
    The second part is that I am aware that some multilingual people choose to post in languages other than English to show off and I am not even remotely interested in reading such opinions.
    Viva the whatever,

    .,,
     
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Whatever one thinks this forum should be, there are no rules requiring that threads be monolingual.
    We have have many threads in languages other than English, usually with less participation than those
    exclusively or mostly in English, and many multi-lingual threads. All of these seem to flow along reasonably well.

    Now and then a forero asks for an "on-the-fly" translation of a post in a language they don't understand, and these requests are usually met promptly. Some of the most interesting threads I have seen here have been conducted in three or more languages.
     
  9. karuna

    karuna Senior Member

    The planet Earth
    Latvian, Latvia
    To spend many years to master another language and to go through so much trouble, just to show off to some anonymous guys on the Internet by being able to start a thread in a different language? I really doubt that there are such people. And if someone has grown up in a multilingual environment, then he/she probably has been using two or more languages long enough and it feels so normal to them that they probably don't think of it as something to show off with. A wonderful asset maybe?
     
  10. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Hello
    Outsider, for what I've seen you can understand many many languages but it's not the case of everyone. I think the CD is a forum of discussion. What's the point if everyone speaks a different language? Personally I can understand Spanish fairly well so I manage to follow more or less but I try to imagine if everything was written in German or Chinese! If there's only one post out of 100 I can understand, what's the point (I say "I" but not necessarily me of course)? And what if I want to contribute? Surely I will repeat what someone's said in another post, in a language I don't understand. Maybe we will end up with different groups talking more or less about the same things, carrying on parallel conversations and people like you who are lucky to understand all those languages will think: "But what the hell is that mess?"
    It's good to express your opinion the best way you can but what's the point if nobody hears you?
    Maybe you can write in your native language and make an attempt in English for other people to see what you mean, I don't know (this question reminds me of something ...). Personally I couldn't imagine writing this post in French. It's not to show off or anything but it's just to be understood by the majority (& that was such an interesting thought that it had to be understood by everyone for sure :rolleyes: )

    Like Setwale_Charm, I have the impression it's assumed that everyone understands Spanish ... which is not the case ... (but I guess not everybody understands English perfectly either :( ) ...
     
  11. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    Absolutely and under the right circumstances a wonderful thing to do but if I start banging on in one of the number of jargons I have aquired over the years I would be incomprehensible to most of my audience.
    English is the language that is shared by most members of this forum and if a multilingual member posts in the cultural forum I am certain that they do this in the knowledge that they are not speaking to monolingual English speakers so I am therefore not interested in something that is not being said to me or for my benefit.

    .,,
     
  12. GEmatt

    GEmatt Senior Member

    La Côte, Switzerland
    English/BE, Français/CH, Deutsch/CH (rustier & rustier)
    Couldn't agree more with the good Sister. I'm glad there are threads with other languages here, and multilingual threads; I'm not as hopeful that they'll improve my other language skills, but I hope they'll prevent them from decaying too quickly!
     
  13. Lombard Beige Senior Member

    English, Italy
    I agree with Outsider. I wouldn't object to seeing threads in Chinese, etc. I would assume they are discussing topics that are more relevant to Chinese speakers (and people learning Chinese) than to other people. Like a thread in Italian on the terminology of Italian card games, or a thread in French on the fine points of the game of Pétanque, or in Portuguese on the latest trends in Portuguese bull-fighting (right, Outsider?).

    They are probably subjects of very limited interest to people who don't speak (or who are not learning) the language.

    regards
     
  14. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Désolée, je ne sais pas si je me suis bien exprimée. Après tout, c'est vrai que l'on peut sauter les posts que l'on ne comprend pas : quel est le problème ?
     
  15. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    Bingo! Let everyone contribute in the language they please. Not all monolinguals are English-speakers, and not every bilingual has English as one of her or his languages.

    I dare say that everyone who is able to register and type some words here is clever enough to be aware of the effects of their language choice on communication.
     
  16. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I'm going to reply to your kind remark, because I think it's pertinent to this topic.

    I don't really understand many languages. I can read, in increasing order of difficulty:

    1. Portuguese
    2. English
    3. Spanish
    4. French

    That's it, really. I can decode a little Italian and a little Catalan, but not read them fluently. (I may give the wrong impression because I do know a lot of trivia and little facts about other languages. ;))

    I have to admit that when the thread is not in one of the first two languages my eyes sometimes glaze over, because the effort I have to make in order to understand is greater. Nevertheless, I have read some very interesting discussions in Spanish, French, and even Italian here in the CD forum. And they were not interesting because they concerned French or Italian issues specifically, but because I could relate to the discussions that people were having.

    While many people can use English, it's very difficult to be as fluent in a foreign language as we are in a native language. In my opinion, there's no substitute for hearing what people have to say about a topic in their own language.
     
  17. Thomsen Senior Member

    Washington, D.C.
    English USA
    Just as a suggestion. Maybe people who were worried that their post would be ignored could post a short summary of it in English or another language right below it.

    I know what you mean Prudence. The Romance language connection can be misleading. I can usually muddle through Portuguese, Italian, or French, but I would never count on being able to grasp any nuances or even reply in those languages.
     
  18. El Torero Junior Member

    Polish/Poland
    agreed
    Gdybyśmy wszyscy pisali pod spodem po angielsku to co wcześniej napisaliśmy np po polsku, byłby i wilk syty i owca cała*

    *if we all wrote a summary of what we've just written e.g in Polish everyone would be happy:]
    If it was that way, I'd feel somewhat more comfortable knowing that I'm not being cursed at. ;)
     
  19. Venezuelan_sweetie

    Venezuelan_sweetie Senior Member

    La Jerusalén de los Suramericanos.
    Venezuela --> Spanish -or something alik
    I agree. :thumbsup: Why should a thread on Latin American government trends, for example, be posted in swahili?

    The most logical thing is that threads are posted in a language that encourages people familiar with the topic to keep on reading/posting...
    About what I highlighted (if you allow me to, Outsider... ;) ) is quite logical. Back into my example above: for example, Brazil is part of the continent. It would also be logical that a certain number of Brazilian foreros can relate to the topic. I don't understand a word of Portuguese, but would it be right to ban the language off the thread, because of that? No... Perhaps common sense would tell us that it would be nice if our Brazilian friends could post in both languages, the predominating one, and his native one, so everyone's happy... ;)
     
  20. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Personally, I would prefer that threads which started in English, stay in English. I do not see a point in changing the language to another one, which is most certainly understood by less people and also most certainly not understood by all people that already contributed the thread. I regard it as pretty unpolite to be obviously able to follow the English thread and deciding to contribute in a third language anyway. Why should I do so? I have no idea whatsoever, why I should wish to write my ideas to an English thread in German.

    Secondly, I agree that not every thread has to be in English. This is a free forum and there might be threads and issues that are preferred to be conducted in another language.

    Thirdly, I enjoy that there is no strict "English-Only" rule, because it enables us to much more freely cite whatever sources in whatever languages we desire. If the thread makes it sensible to do so, we can compare languages, idioms, phrases and so on.

    Kajjo
     
  21. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Reading and writing are different cognitive skills. Some people can manage the former, but not the latter.
     
  22. Kajjo

    Kajjo Senior Member

    Deutschland (Hamburg)
    German/Germany
    Yes, but usually if I say something I want to be understood. If I would reply in German to an English thread, I would expect a very low rate of replies to my contribution.

    Kajjo
     
  23. agliagli Senior Member

    French
    Well, yes. And I feel concerned with this issue. But wouldn't be a good opportunity to learn? Moreover, I think there are plenty of other forums in one language (in French, German, Italian, etc.) discussing very interesting issues on any subject you like. Yes, of course, the participants will most probably not be as patient as in this forum, and would not make the effort to sort out what you or I would be trying to say.

    Therefore, I would suggest to make sub-sections under each language that figures here: namely the français seulement, solo italiano, etc. until the other languages. I don't know about the last section. Maybe more languages could be added, but this is to the administration of this forum to decide what they think to be the most relevent...

    However, if the French forum has its own little "cultural forum" in French, the Italian section its own, etc. there is something else to be feared: the tribal effect... or the adverse effect: the big chatroom.

    Any other suggestions?
     
  24. DearPrudence

    DearPrudence Dépêche Mod

    IdF
    French (lower Normandy)
    Don't worry, they will just skip what you've said ;) :D
     
  25. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I think the context is important, and perhaps I should say more about it.

    In the particular thread that led me to start this one, one of the posters who was participating the most is a Spanish speaker, even though she was using English in her replies. I think the other poster, who wrote in Spanish, saw that some Spanish speakers were replying to the thread, and figured at least they would understand her reply.

    In other cases, there were threads which were started in a language other than English, and threads that were about a certain country or culture or region, which led people from that country/culture/region to reply, sometimes using their language. I assume it's the one they were most comfortable with.

    I also think that multilingual threads can be a good challenge for those who happen to be learning the foreign language, even if they just read.
     
  26. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    If it ain't broke don't fix it.

    .,,
     
  27. TRG Senior Member

    english USA
    I only found this forum because I started studying French. Lately I've been spending too much time in ridiculous arguments and not enough time studying French. Too bad:( . Clearly people should be able to post in any language they want, but if you want the biggest audience, I suppose English is the best choice. It's up to you.
     
  28. _forumuser_

    _forumuser_ Senior Member

    New York City
    Italian
    My two cents:

    If one can, then s/he should try to write in English because it is understood by the majority of foreros. But if they feel their English is in any way an impediment to the full and clear exposition of their ideas then they should be allowed to express themselves in the language they feel most comfortable with, and maybe give a summary or ask more proficient speakers to translate.
     
  29. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I'm satisfied with the way it is. We are welcome to post here (edit: in Cultural Discussions) in whatever language we choose, with the understanding that this choice will limit the number of people who read the posts. If a post or thread is written in a language that few of us speak, it probably won't get as much attention. That's a reasonable tradeoff, in my opinion, for flexibility of expression.

    I've resorted to on-line machine translators once in a while, if I'm intensely curious to find out what somebody said. The output is a mess, but it's often sufficient to get the general idea, when I'm trying to follow the flow of conversation. I generally assume that the original was a little more eloquent.;)
     
  30. _forumuser_

    _forumuser_ Senior Member

    New York City
    Italian
    Hi Kelly,
    The thread was started because occasionally users:warn: have urged other users to refrain from posting in languages other than English. ;)

    EDIT: Sorry: I was referring to the quote in the opening post. I assumed it was by a mod!! I humbly apologize!!:eek:
     
  31. Lombard Beige Senior Member

    English, Italy
    Possibly, in the long term, this is the solution. There could be TWO English-language cultural sections, one for topics of interest mainly to the English-speaking community, but of course open to everyone, and one dedicated to INTERNATIONAL topics, in which English performs its international role.

    regards
     
  32. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Oh for heaven's sake. Do we really need more division in the world?

    I appreciate your good intentions here, Lombard Beige, but what would it serve to have a cultural section "for topics of interest mainly to the English-speaking community, but of course open to everyone" and another that is for the rest of us but, I presume, also open to English speakers and which would still be in English?

    To repeat myself, there is no reason in the world to limit cultural discussion to English, and I am glad it is not so limited at this time. If I don't understand the language of a post, I skip it. If I am dying of curiosity I ask a friend for a summary translation. What's the problem with that?

    As our esteemed colleague the Lord of Punctuation put it: "If it works, don't fix it."
     
  33. roxcyn

    roxcyn Senior Member

    USA
    American English [AmE]
    Yes, there can be other languages in these discussions. :D
     
  34. agliagli Senior Member

    French
    En français, s'il vous plaît? :)

    I'm not sure I understand what the "it" refers to, the "ain't" and the "broke" mean. Is it a way to say that I need to bite my tongue and express myself in French or in...中文 :D (non, laissez tomber...)? :confused:

    Dans ce cas, il n'y aurait pas de problèmes... je trouve simplement que cela risque de créer davantage de mécompréhensions au sein d'un même fil de discussion. On peut, bien évidemment ne pas prêter attention à un post, mais comme l'a fait remarquer DearPrudence, s'il n'y a qu' un quart des posts que je comprends... je ne sais pas si cela tournerait en polyphonie ou en cacophonie, pour reprendre les termes de ce cher Bakhtin...

    Bien à vous.
     
  35. cas29

    cas29 Senior Member

    Milan Italy
    Canada/English
    Personally I think the more rules you make, the harder it is to keep them.
    I've always found that asking for a summary or explanation of a post I don't understand (in any forum here!) has been met with graciously.

    My first language is English, my second was French, which has been superceded by Italian in recent years. --- I can read French threads, and with Spanish I can more or less get the gist.

    Putting myself in the shoes of someone who's first language is Spanish -- I'd be really ticked if there was a rule that only English could be used in a Cultural discussion forum. Still in those imaginary shoes, I can see myself struggling to understand the discussion, enjoying it, and just dying to leap in with my 2 cents - but were this rule to exist, I would also be frustrated knowing I was not able participate as I would like, in English.

    On the otherhand, as things stand, I could post in Spanish, participate and acknowledge that not everyone would understand, but that some would.

    This happens all the time in discussions in other forums - Threads start in one language, switch to another so the writer can be more articulate, sometimes one post will be in 2 languages.
    What is the problem?

    I would be very disapponted at any rule enforcing monoligualism in any forum. I consider the challenge of making the effort to understand a ost in an unfamiliar language both educational and....... FUN!
     
  36. ampurdan

    ampurdan Modstachioed modnster

    jiā tàiluó ní yà
    Català & español (Spain)
    C'est bizare quand même, d'avoir un site linguistique où l'on ne peut s'exprimer qu'en anglais.
     
  37. Lombard Beige Senior Member

    English, Italy
    Thank you for your kind remarks. You are right, but, by analogy with Italian card games, French pétanque and Portuguese bullfighting, I was thinking of something that mostly interests speakers of a particular language.

    However, given its international role, this probably doesn't apply to English. In fact, I find it hard to think of something that interests only (or all) English speakers. For example, the terminology of "scone making" (also interests Anglophiles), haggis recipes (also interest Gaelic speakers), baseball (also interests Cubans, etc.), cricket (also interests South Asians, etc.). So , in fact you are right, at least as far as English is concerned.

    regards
     
  38. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Putting aside my difficulty to comprehend the precise correlation between certain issues and the native language of those interested in them - the current CD forum already serves as a venue for such discussions, since discussions can already be conducted in French only, Spanish only, or Finnish only. I fail to see what the point would be of introducing a new forum specifically for such discussions (again, completely ignoring the challenge of identifying such discussions).

    In other words, to put it rhetorically, what's the problem with having just one forum in which discussions can be conducted monolingually in any language or multilingually in any language combination?
     
  39. agliagli Senior Member

    French
    First of all, I would like to appologise to the Spanish-speaking community, because this was not intended to offend them. I was just thinking in a more "pragmatical" way. But if mixing several different languages under one thread works, why not? :)

    What I originally meant in my own mother tongue was:

    Tout d'abord, j'aimerais présenter mes excuses à la communauté de langue espagnole car mon intention n'était pas de les blesser. Je voyais la chose de manière plus pragmatique. Cela me semblait plus facile à l'oral, lors de grandes réunions internationales, et plus difficile à l'écrit...Mais si mélanger plusieurs langues dans un même fil de discussion marche, pourquoi pas?:)

    Addition I can't say in English: je trouvais seulement que cela créait une certaine rupture dans mon message à l'écrit et que cela le rendrait encore moins intelligible. A l'oral, lorsque vous avez des interprètes simultanés, c'est chose plus facile qu'à l'écrit: vous pouvez respecter toutes les langues que vous voulez...

    But if you think there won't be any problems, I'll agree to take the challenge...why not? :)
     
  40. Lombard Beige Senior Member

    English, Italy
    Nothing at all. My concern was not to break the rules by discussing cultural subjects for example in the Spanish only section, etc. Aren't these setions supposed to be used just for language-related questions?

    Otherwise, no problem. For me personally, I think the general cultural section could be used multilingually in any language combination, but, as someone said, I think it should be internally consistent AS FAR AS POSSIBLE, i.e. if the thread is in English, answer in English with possible quotations, etc. in other languages, in Spanish the same, in Chinese the same, and so on.

    regards
     
  41. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Yes, but we don't currently have a problem with too many cultural threads in the language forums.
     
  42. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Jerusalem
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I don't know. "Internal consistency" means staying on topic as far as I'm concerned. If I can express myself better in another language, why shouldn't I? I don't know what languages you speak, or why this is so important to you, but I think it would be more than a bit odd in an international, multi-lingual forum that deals with language and language learning to insist on one language per thread in the Cultural Discussions forum. Frankly, there are enough rules and guidelines around here that are ignored. Why add another that will be ignored?
     
  43. ireney

    ireney Modistra

    U.S.A.
    Greek Greece
    Κοιτάχτε, ο καθένας μπορεί να γράφει σε όποια γλώσσα θέλει αν και αυτό μπορεί να προκαλέσει άλλου είδους προβλήματα. Υπάρχουν ήδη θέματα, μονόγλωσσα, σε άλλες γλώσσες, κυρίως δε την Ισπανική.

    Αν δεν ενδιαφέρεσαι αν θα καταλάβει κάποιος το μήνυμά σου, μπορείς άνετα να το γράψεις στη μητρική σου γλώσσα.

    Στο παρελθόν έχω ζητήσει να γράφουν στα αγγλικά όταν η όλη συζήτηση είναι στα αγγλικά και πολλά μέλη μου έκαναν τη χάρη.

    Άλλοι δεν το κάνουν. Δεν μπορώ να πω ότι κάτι τέτοιο μου αρέσει όταν παρακολουθώ μια συζήτηση αλλά δεν θα μου άρεσε καθόλου να είναι υποχρεωτικό να δημοσιεύτει κανείς τα μηνύματά του στη γλώσσα του πρώτου μηνύματος στο συγκεκριμένο θέμα/ενότητα.

    :d
     
  44. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    I second the motion!

    Nevím, proč bychom měli omezovat jazykovou pestrost kulturního fóra. Kdo nerozumí, může ostatní slušně požádat o stručný překlad. Samozřejmě je vhodné snažit se, aby ten, kdo diskuzi začal, byl schopen rozumět. Těším se na to, až vznikne první německé vlákno. :p

    Jana
     
  45. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    أنا برأيي عم نعمل من الحبة قبة. هيك هيك بكتبوا الناس أكترية الوقت بالإنجليزي لمجرد إنه هاي طريقة عملية ومنطقية، بس هذا بعنيش إنه لازم يصير قانون. بتخيل إنه إذا التقينا كلنا يوم من الأيام، إذا عملنا شي حفلة لوورد ريفيرينس ببيت مايك مثلاً (منيح إللي معظمكم مش راح تفهموا إللي عم بقوله!) كمان راح نحكي معظم الوقت بالإنجليزي، بس إذا اثنين أعضاء فرنسوية حبوا يدردشولهم شوي بلغتهم شو المانع؟ إللي بفهمش عليهم يلقيله شغلة تانية. مش راح يصير إشي إذا ما قدرناش كلنا نفهم عبعض كل الوقت!
     
  46. _forumuser_

    _forumuser_ Senior Member

    New York City
    Italian
    What are all these weird symbols? My browser must not be working properly...:D
     
  47. cas29

    cas29 Senior Member

    Milan Italy
    Canada/English
    Well, I just found out that bablefish is ok for Greek, but doesn't do Polish or Arabic.......

    I still think there should not be any English only rules!
    :)
     
  48. Lombard Beige Senior Member

    English, Italy
    No these messages simply demonstrate that only people who can read Greek, Czech and Arabic can read these messages. For me, that's no problem. I can read all three, but I can't understand them :)

    Seriously, if there are no space constraints, why not?

    For Nun-Translator:

    Going back to internal consistency, again, personally, it doesn't bother me, but, talking about the same thing, for example haggis recipes, I would assume that it's better to use the same language with a degree of latitude for quotations etc.

    regards
     
  49. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Join Date: Jan 2005
    Native of: Česká republika (čeština)
    Posts: 12,386

    ;)
     
  50. Jana337

    Jana337 Senior Member

    čeština
    Please Czech my profile. ;)
     

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