linguoboy wrote:In one of my library groups, someone asked for a cover term for fiction in languages other than English that sounded "more inclusive" than "Foreign Languages". I suggested "Languages Other Than English", since that's literally the criteria for inclusion, but the consensus was for "World Languages". I can accept that that has a peculiar meaning in (USAmerican) libraries, but it just grates on me. English is a "world language"; Swedish--for all the wordliness of its speakers--is not. Using the term in this way is just as Anglocentric as "Foreign Languages" is.
"Languages Other Than English" may make the most sense in terms of "yeah, that's what they are", but I understand the logic of preferring "World Languages" over "Foreign Languages" and even over "Languages Other Than English".
"World Languages" is preferred in schools here, for example. They don't have "Foreign Language" departments, they have "World Language" departments. In schools the reasoning is that those departments include courses for native speakers of those languages. Even if the course isn't designed
for native speakers, that still doesn't mean it's a "foreign language" to everyone who takes the course. In a library, the reasoning would be that those books are likely not "foreign languages" to many of the people who are reading them.
You're right, logically English should be included among "world languages" too, but the use of "World Languages" to mean "languages spoken elsewhere in the world [outside English-speaking countries]" is common and generally viewed as inclusive. It may be Anglocentric in the sense that English excludes itself from the category, but any patron of the library is going to be aware of the fact that the books in other languages are a subcategory which, I presume, is significantly smaller than the set of books in English. Terminology doesn't change that. At least the term "World Languages" does not presume that the language of the books is "foreign" to those reading them (which tbh could be taken to mean that those who read them as a native language are also "foreign" themselves). (Hmmm.... does the terminology "Languages Other Than English" therefore imply that those who read them as their native language are "other"?)
Anyway "World Languages" is a very common and generally-accepted terminology.
Also, the terminology "World Languages" allows for this: if you have some languages for which you do have a large collection, you could also make it its own subset (Libros en español, 中文书籍, etc). that doesn't need to be grouped under the heading "World Languages" or whatever terminology you choose. In that case "World Languages" means "languages spoken elsewhere in the world [outside English-speaking, Spanish-speaking, and Chinese-speaking countries]". Some libraries do this. My local library does and it also has a "Southeast Asian Languages" section, which groups several languages together (Thai, Lao, Vietnamese, Khmer, Hmong, Mienh, etc). That's because they don't have a very large collection for any of those languages but taken together they do make a sizable collection; additionally, many local speakers of those languages can read more than one of them, so having them together in the same place is useful to those speakers. If the library consisted of the "main collection" and "languages other than English," it would not make as much sense to do that sort of thing.