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Free vs. paid language materials [split form Chinook Jargon]

Posted: 2015-04-13, 14:49
by kaptengrot
Strict immigration? I thought the rules were more or less the same for every European country when you're not a European citizen. I've also heard that the USA's immigration laws are one of the strictest, l-lol... If you want, I wrote a post the other day about moving to Sweden for someone who asked, here:
http://tipsforlanguagelearning.tumblr.com/post/116223162132

Yeah, I've seen the book written about online ;_; I don't get these people who do stuff like this (the Sami/Lappish languages, and Greenlandic, suffer from the same thing). If you want your tiny language to survive, and want people to know about it, then why make people pay to learn all about it? What if I live in some third-world country and am browsing the internet on my mobile and don't have money to buy your $40 book?! Okay that's not me, but I'm still unemployed and can't afford it! Commercialism and capitalism, I tell you! ; P But for all they know, if I had the money to get the resources I'd become that one guy who somehow revitalizes the language, you know?

Hmm, someone should make some pop songs or rap or something haha. Yeah, I also think if you want most people to not get the "wow, a really primitive language (spoken by uneducated people)" feeling, you should have a translation to normal English instead of to broken English. We just have a big complex about speaking our language perfectly that runs pretty deep... A lot of people already think that "there's nothing another language can say that English can't" so then when they do have contact with another language and it's translated as broken...

Re: Chinook Jargon

Posted: 2015-04-13, 15:01
by linguoboy
kaptengrot wrote:Yeah, I've seen the book written about online ;_; I don't get these people who do stuff like this (the Sami/Lappish languages, and Greenlandic, suffer from the same thing). If you want your tiny language to survive, and want people to know about it, then why make people pay to learn all about it?

If your language is tiny and threatened, then your community probably is, too. Where is it going to get the money to subsidise books and materials for those outside the community? Academic work doesn't come cheap; the cost of producing a really good dictionary can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that expenditure has to be recouped somehow. If you really care about helping to revive a language (as opposed to merely experiencing a passing fancy for it), you should be able to find $40 to buy a book. That's the cost of, what, dinner and a movie? One new video game? A bus ticket to the next town over and back?

Re: Chinook Jargon

Posted: 2015-04-13, 15:22
by kaptengrot
People like me write language lessons/books and tutor people for free, and I don't even have a job. If you write a book, you can easily have two versions, one paid and one for free, along with a website where people can further donate if they want. Inside the book you also put the site address, bank info and/or paypal info so someone can donate to you too. Blah blah it's work and takes time, yes, but it doesn't require money unless you have to pay people to give you language samples/translations in order to collect words.

Anyway, I personally believe that all knowledge (and tools to help someone be able to learn better, ex. magnifying glasses for people with bad eyesight) should be free so that everyone can access it, and then those who can pay would do good to pay but it shouldn't be a requirement. The rule is that the more accessible the knowledge, the more people will learn it, and this includes languages... which is a very important thing for keeping alive (or reviving) these tiny ones.

One's community is going to need to be sustained with outside work/income no matter what. In many cases (and I'm not saying this is the case for this one!) it's even a case of the community spending the money completely unwisely. For example, if the elders are worried about the kids not learning the language properly and not being interested, then someone needs to sit down and write/translate stuff that kids and teenagers really want to read, like "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" instead of "Matti's first reindeer". Similarly, there's plenty of people who might want to learn the language but don't live in the area, so someone should make a big website that thoroughly teaches it as much as possible, instead of assuming everyone can just move to the area where it's spoken. I have seen this kind of mistake a lot so...

And even these you can do by yourself. I know that there's been teams of just one or two people who've translated Harry Potter for free since it didn't exist in their language. Tons of people make their own websites. I have seen more than one guy who, alone, typed up an entire old dictionary and updated it and put it online for everyone to access for free. Not to mention all the people who teach language for free on their blogs and stuff.

"...you should be able to find $40 to buy a book. That's the cost of, what, dinner and a movie? One new video game? A bus ticket to the next town over and back?"

I know you don't mean me specifically, but there are plenty of people in a position like mine who haven't eaten dinner out, gone to a movie or bought a videogame (or even new clothes) in three years, because they don't have that extra money. Maybe everyone else on this site, and everyone else on the internet who is learning languages in general, has money... I personally try to think about the whole world. I don't think it's only English natives or Americans who would want to learn this language for example.

It's fine because you can use these old dictionaries with this language and it doesn't really matter. But this post is kind of a complaint in general, as with many other languages you can't do this...

Re: Chinook Jargon

Posted: 2015-04-13, 15:43
by linguoboy
kaptengrot wrote:People like me write language lessons/books and tutor people for free, and I don't even have a job.

And how are you able to do this? Who is ultimately subsidising the labour which you choose to give away for free?

kaptengrot wrote:Anyway, I personally believe that all knowledge (and tools to help someone be able to learn better, ex. magnifying glasses for people with bad eyesight) should be free so that everyone can access it, and then those who can pay would do good to pay but it shouldn't be a requirement.

That's a great sentiment, but great sentiments don't pay bills.

kaptengrot wrote:For example, if the elders are worried about the kids not learning the language properly and not being interested, then someone needs to sit down and translate stuff that kids really want to read, like "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" instead of "Matti's first reindeer".

As any content provider knows in this Internet age, what drives subscriptions is unique content. Your channel needs to give people something they cannot find elsewhere. If Harry Potter is already available in Swedish as well as the original English, where's the incentive to read it three years later when it finally comes out in Sami? So I'm not sure I agree with this statement. It wasn't the desire to watch Hindi dubs of Hollywood movies that motivated me to learn Hindi, for instance, but the desire to watch Bollywood movies in Hindi.

kaptengrot wrote:Similarly, there's plenty of people who might want to learn the language but don't live in the area, so maybe some money should go to making a big website that thoroughly teaches it as much as possible, instead of assuming everyone can just move to the area where it's spoken. I have seen this kind of mistake a lot so...

Is it a mistake? After all, if you're not going to interact with the community in an intensive way, how much of a contribution to the survival of its language can you really make? How does someone posting here in Sami help the larger Sami-speaking community, for instance? If you have limited resources, it only makes sense to concentrate them where the return on investment is the highest.

kaptengrot wrote:I know you don't mean me specifically, but there are plenty of people in a position like mine who haven't eaten dinner out, gone to a movie or bough a videogame (or even new clothes) in over three years, because they don't have that extra money.

And yet you still have the luxury of foregoing income and giving work away for free. How many people in indigenous communities have that? (Particularly in a country like mine, where there is no guaranteed minimum income or anything like that.) You mean to tell me you couldn't choose to do odd jobs for a few hours and earn enough to buy a book?

Re: Chinook Jargon

Posted: 2015-04-13, 15:58
by kaptengrot
"And how are you able to do this? Who is ultimately subsidising the labour which you choose to give away for free?"

What do you mean? I just do it for free. The labour is done in my free time. It doesn't cost me anything to write a lesson for a language I already know about or can at least research about. Even if I had to buy a grammar book at one point, I wouldn't think anything about translating, fixing and summarizing it all for free for other people who can't afford to buy it or who can't read the language that book is in. It's a much better hobby than watching TV, anyway.

EDIT: Oh, I think maybe you meant "Why do you do it if you don't get money for it"? If that's the case, I do it because I remember my own feelings about how it's so frustrating to not be able to (or not be allowed to) buy textbooks, and occasionally you do get a heartfelt "thanks" or you see someone who clearly used your lessons and you feel happy because you help make the humankind a little bit smarter.

There's also quite frankly, far too many horrible lessons out there which confuse people and make them take ages longer to learn the language than it should have (I'm thinking of Icelandic, Japanese and Esperanto in particular) so I like to find ways of fixing that using my experience learning. I also think that, if only more people did stuff like this, then it would be easier for me to learn all the languages I actually want to learn too.

————

Anyway, to get back on topic a bit, my wife said I should write a certain type of story in Chinook Jargon... I am only very slowly learning it (if I'm not careful then I'll forget all about it and never learn it) since I've been doing this dictionary translation thing on and off and then working on other projects instead of properly learning, but we'll see if it happens I guess.

Re: Chinook Jargon

Posted: 2015-04-13, 16:21
by linguoboy
[Wrote this response before the moderator's post. księżycowy', if you have an idea where this discussion would be appropriate, by all means move it there. I think it is related to the topic of NAILs and other indigenous languages more generally.]

kaptengrot wrote:What do you mean? I just do it for free. The labour is done in my free time.

You are completely missing the point. Other people do not have this kind of free time. They have to work. They need to earn money for food, rent, and necessities. If they are not in paid work themselves, then they are performing work (e.g. childcare, home repairs) so that someone else can go out and work for money in order to cover living expenses. And when they're not working at home or elsewhere, they are too exhausted to spend hours putting together language lessons. The free time you have is a luxury and you have it because someone, somewhere is doing the paid work which earns the money to pay for your lifestyle--modest though it is. If it's not a family member, romantic partner, or friend, it's a stranger whose taxes fund whatever employment insurance or disability payments or other form of income support you receive.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-13, 20:35
by TeneReef
I would love to use Mango but it's too expensive for me,
and I don't have a US library card. :evil:

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-13, 20:43
by melski
Linguoboy, I perfectly understand your point, but don't you think sharing resources can help revitalizing minority languages? I mean, if we all followed your logic, there would be no Wikipedia nor Wiktionary, however those are two very valuable tools for revitalization.
Also, there are many NGOs and non-profit organizations who receive grants to publish materials in endangered languages (I work in one of them) and it would be a pity not to share those materials for free on the internet, or at least making them easily available.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-13, 20:50
by linguoboy
From the description of their Standard Irish course on the Mango website:
Embark on an adventure across the Emerald Isle and explore the enchanting land where beauty is matched only by mystery. Like a living fairy tale, Ireland is ripe with timeless castles, sweeping landscapes, and folklore come to life. Kiss the Blarney Stone, search for Fionn mac Cumhaill at Giant’s Causeway, and take in breathtaking scenery at St. Patrick’s Rock. Escape to Ireland and use your language skills to raise a glass to new friendship by saying Sláinte (cheers)!

I kind of want to beat someone to death with a shillelagh now.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-14, 2:04
by Michael
What brand of rose-tinted glasses does the person who wrote that wear? They should take them off in order to see the blurry reality of the language situation in Ireland.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-14, 2:29
by linguoboy
Aóristos wrote:What brand of rose-tinted glasses does the person who wrote that wear? They should take them off in order to see the blurry reality of the language situation in Ireland.

It's just standard issue bad travel writing. I'm willing to bet some of the other blurbs are just as bad.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-14, 7:12
by Michael
I was able to deduct as much from it upon reading it. This is why I avoid the whole "pop travel" genre as much as possible.

Yes, that includes Rosetta Stone.

Re: free vs. paid language materials

Posted: 2015-04-27, 15:29
by linguoboy
Somehow in the breaking-out of this topic, I managed to completely overlook this comment. Sorry, melski.

melski wrote:Linguoboy, I perfectly understand your point, but don't you think sharing resources can help revitalizing minority languages? I mean, if we all followed your logic, there would be no Wikipedia nor Wiktionary, however those are two very valuable tools for revitalization.

I'm not sure how my logic leads to this conclusion. What I said is that, where resources are limited, it makes sense to concentrate them where they will be most effective. In some cases, those areas of concentration will include Wikipedia, Wiktionary, or other free and public wikis. But though these are accessible everywhere, they're still primarily intended for the active speaker community. The fact that the rest of us get to view them as well is a bonus.

Moreover, to the extent that the Wikipedia articles aren't simply translations of existing articles in a major language, they represent exactly the sort of original content I was talking about earlier. Even when my knowledge of a local language is sketchy at best, I often find it pays to look at the version of a Wikipedia article in it where it concerns a local subject. I may still be able to glean one or two tidbits which don't appear in other articles.

melski wrote:Also, there are many NGOs and non-profit organizations who receive grants to publish materials in endangered languages (I work in one of them) and it would be a pity not to share those materials for free on the internet, or at least making them easily available.

I'm not saying we shouldn't share such materials with the wider world where the opportunity exists. By all means, if you can get someone to subsidise your linguistic work, go for it, even if it does mean making it available at little or no profit afterwards. But look back at where this conversation started and you'll see that what I'm contesting is the expectation that speakers of indigenous languages should give away resources for free. I can see having this expectation if you live in a developed country with generous social welfare and lots of funds available to underwrite cultural production, but only a tiny minority of the world's endangered languages are located in countries like this. Most are in places where people struggle just to get by.

Re: Free vs. paid language materials [split form Chinook Jargon]

Posted: 2015-04-27, 20:48
by melski
Thanks Linguoboy for your answer, now I see your point better. Then there is also the issue of cultural appropriation (some minorty language communities see Western linguist as people stealing their language - the last thing they have left after being colonized and culturally repressed). There was an interesting article on this matter here.

Re: Free vs. paid language materials [split form Chinook Jargon]

Posted: 2015-04-27, 21:21
by linguoboy
Yeah, twenty years ago I definitely would've been in the camp expressing outrage at the idea that my genuine interest in learning an indigenous language could be viewed as a form of appropriation. Now I feel quite differently. A turning point came some years ago when I was learning a bit of Sm'algyax (Coast Tsimshian). This is an ergative language, so I thought I'd post a few example sentences in my blog in order to give people not familiar with them a sampling of what they were like. My book happens to include words for "homosexual" and "copulate", so I thought I'd use them in the example as both something of a counterweight to the boring example sentences of most language works and a reminder that homosexuality is more than just a modern European invention.

But then I considered what one of the few living Sm'algyax speakers might think if they happened to stumble across such a post and reconsidered. I can't imagine wanting to cause any more pain to people who have suffered enough already. And so I dropped the whole idea altogether. I wouldn't mind learning some more Sm'algyax sometime (although I'm not as interested in it as I still am in learning Osage), but only if I can do it in a such a way that tribal members wouldn't find it disrespectful. And since I don't know any, I don't know what all that might embrace, so I need to be as cautious as I can.