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Re: [Maybe OT?] Are we in danger of becoming a "Low Country"?

  • Subject: Re: [Maybe OT?] Are we in danger of becoming a "Low Country"?
  • From: Roy Schestowitz <newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 09 May 2006 04:40:40 +0100
  • Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy
  • Organization: schestowitz.com / MCC / Manchester University
  • References: <ofm4j3-ppt.ln1@sirius.tg00suus7038.net> <K8adnU0s6o6fTMLZRVn-hA@comcast.com>
  • Reply-to: newsgroups@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • User-agent: KNode/0.7.2
__/ [ Geico Caveman ] on Tuesday 09 May 2006 00:15 \__

> The Ghost In The Machine wrote:
>> http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/4978074.stm
>> <excerpt>
>>     But while the rest of Europe embraces the variety of
>>     European languages, Britain seems bent on becoming
>>     determinedly monolingual.  A recent survey for the
>>     European Commission revealed that two out of three
>>     Britons are unable to speak a language other than
>>     English. The number of students studying A-level French
>>     has dropped by two thirds over the past 10 years.
>>     Britons believe that there is really no need for them
>>     to learn any other European language, when in the end
>>     everyone aspires to speak theirs.
>> </excerpt>
>> The parallels with Linux should be obvious -- and, to me at least,
>> slightly worrisome.

Intersting  analogy, but much as in programming languages, only the syntax
varies.  Once you know the priciples, all you ever need to do is memorise.
That  is the observation made by many schools and colleges (or so I  hope)
where  priciples are embraced. Languages to be taught would not be Java or
.NET.  Instead,  a  'harder' langauge like C is needed.  By  incoprorating
certain  'barriers' such as pointers and recursions, it forces its user to
/understand/  computing  and,  thereafter,  make  rerasonable  programming

Also see: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/ThePerilsofJavaSchools.html

Turning  to  operating  systems, the same rules apply.  The  look-and-feel
across  platforms  is fairly uniform, yet the better users (analogy for  C
programmers)  will  get things done quicker by using utlities as such  the
command-line and tailoring some handy scripts. Show me *one* Windows users
who  need  to  wrestle with Ubuntu and Synaptic. It's just  about  knowing
application  names  (brands) and learning the new menu layouts  (intra-O/S
and intra-application).

Mind  you, even the most experienced travel agents are using command-based
querying  languages.  It  is  not  due to old  habits.  It  is  just  more
expressive  --  thus an effective way to working. It has an entry  barrier
which   is   worth  the  investment  and  tells   apart   mediocres   from

Returning  to  lanuguges,  I have known people whose  spoekn  English  was
splendid.  As soon as they had to write an E-mail, boy O' boy. I hope  you
can see how this relates to the issue of multi-liguistics. English, by the
way, is my second language.

> Hardly. English is the language of science, international finance,
> diplomacy, etc.
> Of all the European languages, if one had to pick one other than English,
> it would be Russian which would perhaps be worth learning because of the
> economic boom in Russia. French is little more than a hobbyist's language
> these days and unless you were travelling in certain parts of France,
> Africa or south east Asia, you wouldn't need it at all. German's golden age
> is past, thanks to Hitler, who kicked out the brightest scientific minds of
> the 20th century.
> It makes even more sense to learn an Asian language - maybe Chinese or a
> major Indian language. No, it is to no demerit of the British that its
> people refuse to learn other European languages - as a famous European once
> said, Europe is but a molehill, and these days, a very small one at that.
> There are no parallels with Linux other than refusing to implement some
> obscure protocol that users of a very rarely used operating system use.
> Linux is more like a British expat in America, who knows enough Chinese to
> get a meal in China, enough Kannada / Hindi to get a meal in India, enough
> Russian to get by in Russia and does not lose sleep over learning the finer
> points of French grammar.

Good post. I suppose the analogy for obscure 'protocols' (if it can at all
be  called  that) is street talk. You can't find it in the dictionary  and
the  only  way to learn that is to get absorbed within the local  society.
Then, there are also accents, dialects *and* behavioural subtleties or even

Best wishes,


Roy S. Schestowitz      | Useful fact: close elevator button = Express Mode
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