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(lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que l'anglais

by Ovid (Cardinal)
on Aug 27, 2001 at 00:32 UTC ( #107980=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

I'm sitting here in lemming's house typing away on his computer while he and his wife are at Burning Man. While I'm not exactly sure how lemming so clearly wound up getting the better part of the deal, I'm lucky because, while housesitting for him, I get to play on Perlmonks and he's stuck in the desert drinking beer, frolicking with scantily clad people and ... oh dear ... I guess I'm not as lucky as I thought.

Ahem. Back to the topic at hand.

A couple of French monks were in the Chatterbox doing their "parlez-vous" thing when another monk asked politely asked them, in French, to speak English. It seemed to me that the two French monks were having a chat that was between the two of them, though any who could speak French was free to follow along (though I have no idea what the heck 'becanes' are).

While the French monks in question did switch to English, I commented "Moi, je ne parle pas français très bien, mais si un 'monk' veut le parle, pourquoi est-ce que c'est une probléme?" This translates as "I don't speak French well, but if a monk wants to speak it, why is this a problem?"

Why is this a problem? Perl is used all over the world. So why should Perlmonks be an "english only" resource? At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, we all know the benefits of standardization. Many computer manufacturers have manufactured excellent computers only to watch them die because they're not compatible with the machine language that runs on Intel chips. Like it or not, many view Intel as the 'standard', in this area. Let's face it, standardizing on English has some benefits.

When I worked in Amsterdam, the standard in the office was English. My father tried to convince me to take a sales/project management position in Germany. He assured me that English was enough; I didn't need to know German. Another individual encouraged me to apply for a job in Italy for the position he was vacating. You guessed it. They spoke English in the office. Many companies seem to view English as the way to go.

Frankly, I view this as a disappointment. I like to be exposed to other languages and culture. Though multi-culturalism often results in the compartmentalization of cultural groups, it can expose us to other points of view that are worthwhile to know. Perlmonks has primarily been an English-only site, but I'd like to see more contributions in other languages. I don't know how others feel about this, but the topic is now open for discussion.

If others see a benefit in trying to offer this resource to those who do not speak English well, is there a way we can implement this without Perlmonks becoming a confusing polyglot of tongues? Personally, I'm thinking something along the lines of having the language identified in the title, as in this node. It would be easy to implement and would not require extra work on vroom's part.


Update: Oh, and as a small practical joke, be sure to /msg lemming about the vast quantities of scotch that he owes me for making me housesit for him while he's a Burning Man :).

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  • Comment on (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que l'anglais

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Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais (revenge of rosetta monk)
by ybiC (Prior) on Aug 27, 2001 at 05:36 UTC
    Sometime in the past year or so I had the following on my homenode.   I took it off after a while, but have since wanted to post it as a node for posterity.   This thread seems to be an (at least somewhat) appropriate place for it, so... here goes.
        striving toward Perl Adept
        (it's pronounced "why-bick")

    Rosetta Monk revisited...

    In addition to learning more Perl and the great comraderie, I enjoy the global nature of the Monastery.   Just by hanging out in the Chatterbox, I picked up the following greetings.   Feel free to /msg me with greetings in other languages.   Although I get in trouble when greeting a Monk in his/her native tongue because they respond in that same language, which I know only a phrase or two {grin}</font.

    German   guten Morgen,   guten Tag,   gute Nacht

    Dutch   goeden morgen,   goede middag
    French   ca va?   ca va  (how's it going? it's going)

    Swedish   god morgon,   god middag,   god natt
    Finnish   hyvää aamua,   hyvää päivää (good morning, good mid-day)

    Petruchio <br>Russian   dobre vecher (good night)

    Irish   dia dhuit   conas a ta tu?   ta me go maith   (hello, how are you? fine and good of you to ask)
    French   bonjour   (hello)
    Swedish   tjena   (hello (slang))

    Chinese   ni hua ma (how are you?)

    Czech   dobry' den,   dobrou noc   jak se mas?   (good day, good night, howyadoin?)

    Gaelic accent   loffing oot laid   (lol   8^)

    Polish   czesc,   dzien dobry,   dobranoc   (hello, good morning/day, good night);

    Czech   cau,   ahoj,   dobre rano   (hello, hello, good morning)

    Hebrew   L'heitraot,   Shalom   LieLah-Tov   (See you later, Peace, Good Night)
        Kol B'Seder (It's all good)
        Todah - (Thank you)
        Todah Rabah - (Thank you very much)
        Todah, Todah Rabah - (Elvis in Israel   8^)

    Chady *
    Arabic greeting   marhaba

    OeufMayo *
    French   ça va?, salut, bonjour
    Italian   Buongiorno

    Italian   bonjourno,   come va?   bene   (hello, how are you? good)
    Spanish   como esta?   (how are you?)

    * added after initial post


      While visiting Sweden, I observed that the common greeting was (or sounded like) "Hey!" (which I suspect is spelled hej). Being the monolingual 'merican, I replied with "Hello" to cue them...

      I took four years of French in high school, and about a semester of Japanese in college...I remember bits and pieces. I manage to read most romance and germanic languages with a some success (at least in the references I am trying to read), but that only goes so far...

      Lingua::Romana::Perligata is a real hoot! I showed it to friends and they were rolling in the aisles in appreciation.

      Me, I tend to stick with "Howdy!" these days...


      Japanese: Ohayô gozaimasu, Kon'nichi wa, Konban wa, Sayônara. (Good Morning, Good Day, Good Evening, Good Bye)
      Swabian: Grüß Gottle, Adee. (God Day, Good Bye)

Re: (language: en)...
by footpad (Abbot) on Aug 27, 2001 at 01:10 UTC

    I certainly agree with your thoughts about being exposed to other cultures and cultural idioms. I believe there is a great deal we individually take for granted and that, by learning the things that others take for granted, you expand your own awareness, knowledge, and understanding about others. In turn, this makes you a richer person, for you can at least understand more than your local idioms.

    This set of articles from the Associated Press discuss the recent spread of English as a common tongue as well as some concerns about that spread. They make for interesting reading on the phenomenon.

    Locally, I don't mind it when folks converse in different languages in CB. Sure, I usually wish I know what they were saying, but I tend to figure that if I really want to know, then I'd best get myself to the local community college for some classes. Similarly, I really don't mind when people pose questions in other languages. After all, BabelFish does a reasonably decent job at translating the major languages to English. It's usually enough to get the point across. (I've recently, with the author's permission, been using it to translate articles on a French site into English for inclusion on a site I run.)

    I would ask, though, if people do post in another language, that they indicate which language it is. While French can be reasonably obvious, there are other languages that aren't necessarily so. For example, Portuguese and Spanish sport a number of similarities. Not many, perhaps, but enough to be confusing to a translation device. Similarly, there are variants of Spanish (Castilian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, and so on). It might also help if a multi-lingual monk could summarize the main points for the rest of us.

    While English questions will usually garner the most responses, I can imagine siutations where posting in one's native tongue seems the best way to get your point across. There are many needs and, while we may not always understand why someone considers something important, I believe it's best to respect that person's belief in that importance.


      Personally I wouldn't mind it if people asked questions in other languages - though if they did I would appreciate it if someone offered a translation. (And hopefully a translation back of the best answers.)

      However I have to admit that I would probably weary fairly rapidly if some enterprising monk were to take to translating the best questions and answers into another language and posting those.

      As for cultural imperialism, I can offer no good solutions. The amount that English imperialism in programming is taken for granted first became clear to me when TheDamian pointed out that when he wrote Lingua::Romana::Perligata he had no body of theory on how to parse inflected languages to draw on. Positional languages? No problem, English is positional. But try to identify the role of a word in a sentence by doing it like languages from Latin to Russian to Sanskrit? You are on your own.

      And a final random note. I challenge anyone here, native speaker or not, to honestly say that they can read this poem aloud correctly on the first try...

Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by echo (Pilgrim) on Aug 27, 2001 at 02:35 UTC
    Kudos for your open mind. I usually refrain from speaking my native language in a place like this: obviously if I'm here it means I understand English well enough. Therefore I have a choice. I see other French monks in the CB, I can chat in French with them, and leave many people out of the conversation, or I can use English, and not only they will understand it, but everyone as well. I feel it would be impolite to leave people out.

    Much more troublesome to me is the cultural unification that English, especially American, brings along. The language itself isn't a problem, but the pervasiveness of American Geek culture at the expense of any other is a bit tiring at times. More important than reading French or other non English languages in the CB, everyone would benefit from what non American cultures can bring, and that doesn't happen a lot on English-speaking American-centric forums.

Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by maverick (Curate) on Aug 27, 2001 at 08:20 UTC
    I personally am not multi-lingual and I have no problem with others speaking their native tongue in CB. I would however like to see and indication of what language a non-English post is in, so I could run it through BabelFish. ++ to all of you that are multi-lingual, it's a skill I wished I had.

    Perhaps I can shed a little bit of light on why so many (it seems) Americans don't speak anything other than English. The bottom line is most don't care to learn anything beyond what is absolutely required of them. I'm from a very rural area of East Tennessee (Powell Valley, to be exact) and my high school graduating class was ~60. We were required to take two semesters of a foreign language. There was only one language offered, Spanish. How much Spanish do I know now? Very little. I remember a few phrases, some of the grammatical rules, but that's it. In my youth, I figured this was information I'd never need, so I didn't put forth much effort. This, coupled with the fact that the quarter back for the football team was in my class, along with a few of his chums, made it a complete impossibly to learn anything even if I was just dying to become bi-lingual. He got his 'D' (the minimum required grade) the year I took Spanish. It was his 3rd time taking the class. Get the idea?

    perl -l -e "eval pack('h*','072796e6470272f2c5f2c5166756279636b672');"

Re: (language: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by jryan (Vicar) on Aug 27, 2001 at 00:50 UTC

    Ovid, I think I know which conversation you are referring to. What happened was that several monks were having a small conversation about the computer game Starcraft, when two of the participating monks suddenly started to speak in french... about Starcraft. No one had a problem with it, but it made the conversation very confusing. I think that was the reason that someone requested that they switched back to English. Hopefully, no bad feelings came out of this.

      Well, being the 'monk' who "politely asked them, in French, to speak English" I second you with the fact that no bad feelings came out... I just asked that because French gets too spoken around me, and I don't feel very comfortable with it, because, well, I don't like the language very much...

      anyway, No Bad Feelings at all ;-)..

      He who asks will be a fool for five minutes, but he who doesn't ask will remain a fool for life.

      Chady |
Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by stefp (Vicar) on Aug 27, 2001 at 17:45 UTC
    I shamelessly borrow this joke from grinder nodelet because it is so appropriate here:

    A Swiss is visiting Sydney, Australia, pulls up at a bus stop where two locals are waiting. "Entschuldigung, koennen Sie Deutsch sprechen?" he asks. The two Aussies just stare at him. "Excusez-moi, parlez vous Français?" he tries. The two continue to stare blankly. "Parlare Italiano?" No response. "Hablan ustedes Español?" Still nothing. The Swiss guy gives up an drives off. The first Aussie turns to the second and says, "Y'know, maybe we should learn a foreign language." "Why?" says the other. "That guy knew four languages, and it didn't do him any good!"

    -- stefp

Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by stefp (Vicar) on Aug 27, 2001 at 17:37 UTC
    I think that the chatbox and the rest of Perlmonks are altogether different issues.

    The chatbox is used for short lived informal conversations and quickly solving a problem. There is little standard to follow there including of languages. Admittedly if there are too many conversations in too many languages we will need some threading and selection devices. But we are not yet there.

    The rest of perlmonks is material that is here to stay. I would not like to see a balkanization here. Now, I am able to get most of the material that is posted. I may make a fool of myself with my broken English but I am still able to get my ideas thru. This way, I am able to be part of a large and thriving communauty.

    If one wants to contribute in his own language, perl mongers sites will be a better place. If they reach a certain size, perhaps they will support perlmonks like features. Knowing English is probably a stiff barrier but this is almost the most important command ground of the Open source movement. We can translate the documentation in many languages, write in C, Perl or Python. But the identifiers are in English. So one has to learn English. That's what I did when I started to dabble with UNIX (not open source at this time) because my school level was so low. In a sense that was an opportunity because I would not otherwise have the courage to learn English.

    -- stefp

Re: (lang: en) Monks qui parlent des langages autres que les anglais
by fmogavero (Monk) on Aug 27, 2001 at 17:27 UTC
    What a truly difficult subject. ++ all.

    It is wonderful that we have so many multi-lingual (polyglut) members of the monastery. We can all benefit from different culture and should not be deterred by lack of understanding.

    I speak, read and write in Italian, Russian and American. Yes American is it's own unique language. I speak to my children in Italian only. I want them to have part of my cultural background, since we live in the midwest and I am originally from Buffalo NY. The language is "in their blood." To see different languages in the CB only serves to enhance everybodys understanding.

    My wife is 100% american. Since I speak only Italian to the children, she has learned to understand Italian quite well. We went to Italy in 2000 and she understood 90% of what was going on. Since she understands that much I can't get away with any chicanery. So the more posts we see in foreign languages, the more we will come to understand them.

    I think designated "language" monks would be an excellent addition to the monastery. How many times have you lurked, or just gave up because when you typed "Does anyone here know English" no one responded? If anyone needs Italian or Russian help please let me know.

    Great subject Ovid!

.. for the practice
by Anonymous Monk on Aug 27, 2001 at 18:59 UTC
    Speaking other languages helps keep the mind supple and if you don't use any of the language training that you've picked up (or been force fed), you lose it. Trying to get it back is a painful, painful experience. This maybe why I would hear our older British profs speaking French together, just to keep sharp.

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