delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

Just saw a post finding out that Swedish, Danish and Norwegian are almost the same language. And that's true.

It can even be extended: the similarities among different Germanic, Romance and Slavic languages, respectively, are numerous, up to the point that some of them are mutually intelligible and thus could be said to be the same language.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

This is of course well known, and there's even a saying that a language is a dialect with an army and a navy. But apparently that doesn't seem to hold outside of Europe. Just a few examples:

- Arabic dialects are very different, but we mostly still talk about one Arabic language.
- Depending on who's talking, we see claims of different languages of China and different Chinese dialects.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

- Most of Latin America just talks Spanish, and yes, it's a colonial language, but still a majority language that crosses all boundaries and every country has its own army, and it's still Spanish and not a dozen different languages.

So yes, in the end the boundary between a language and a dialect is political and ideological and not linguistic, and the boundary locations depend on who's speaking.

Follow

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

Which leads me to the topic of individualism and communalism.

Many sources have shown how especially Europeans tend to be very individualistic and the rest of the world is more towards communalism. In Europe it seems to be much more important to find distinctions between self and other people. Thus Europeans tend to see other people speaking a different language, even though they can understand it.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

Which is to say that any claims you can see about how many languages there are in the world (eg. 5000, 6000 or 7000) is not arrived by any universal criteria, because there are no universal criteria on how to delineate languages. One common criterium is that speakers themself draw the lines, thus it's an identity line, which results in the lines being wildly different in relation to the

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

”mutual intelligibility” criterium in different corners of the world.

So yeah, I don't know if I had any great point in this thread, just something that popped in my mind. /end

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@Stoori I’ve heard that there are examples of Indigenous languages here in Australia or New Guinea where A and B are mutually intelligible, B and C are, etc etc, D and E are, but A and E are not. How many languages is that? *idunno sound*

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@futzle yeah, that too. in the end all attempts to quantify and classify languages get submerged in the endless sea of fuzziness and contradictory definitions :D

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@Stoori good thread!

I personally don't really buy the individualism vs. collectivism thing, like in general not just here. feels reductionist to me.

my historical interpretation would be that the European situation has to do with the past of nationalism, standardisation, & 19th century whacky linguistics.

and the differences between them and the rest attributable to European and other imperialisms & colonialisms.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@cadxdr yeah, individualism & communalism is a gross oversimplification, more like tendencies than precise states.

but that's how i feel like what linguistics always is, just tendencies pulling in different directions and nothing palpable ever. we still need terms for those tendencies, while we need to understand that they'll always be mere hints of what we're trying to describe.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@cadxdr but i certainly have an eurolens in this topic, it's hard to avoid. for me it's easier to describe how things are in europe, but when i watch outside of europe i'm always unsure of if i'm seeing it anywhere near well or if i'm just unable to remove my eurolens.

delineating languages and dialects / individualism and communalism 

@Stoori yep. I feel like we need to just embrace the fact that our subject matter is historical and ever changing. we're acting too much like we were chemists or physicists, in response to our legitimacy being under constant attack as social sciences. that's really limiting our perspectives and potentials. which is why personally I am sliding towards a qualitative- and interpretative-first stance myself as of late.

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