14 August 2009


There is no word for the equivalent of racism in the area of languages, so let me invent one for the sake of convenience - linguism. This is the discrimination suffered by speakers or writers of one language at the hands of speakers of another language. Linguism is difficult to detect when one is dealing only with written texts (although critics insisting on the use of only one language in a single literary text clearly think that their language is sufficient for all the needs of humanity), but it is very clear in ordinary discourse. Here's an example of a blog post where the writer does not even realize that she is guilty of linguism:

"There’s a lot of Chinese artists/bands that sing a whole song in Chinese, only to throw in some English phrases/words during the chorus?! It sounds quite silly, and I have no idea what the idea of this is? To my workmates, who don’t understand a lick of Chinese it sounded even MORE silly, gosh, one guy laughed so much tears started running from his eyes when we listened to the song 一半女生 –I ban nv sheng- by the Hong Kong duo ‘Twins’ who sang their whole verse in Chinese (something about growing up and not being a woman yet but also not being a girl…) and then went: 'Bye bye bye, bye bye happiness!' in the chorus and resulted in an instant laugh attack from my colleagues."

The only thing wrong with the word linguism is that the person afflicted with it would have to be called a linguist (unnecessarily making me thousands of enemies with one stroke of the computer, even though I have no intention of casting aspersions on language experts).

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