HD: How Many Languages? 
Posted: 22 August 2013 05:55 AM   [ Ignore ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4742
Joined  2007-01-03

Some interesting twists to the question.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 August 2013 07:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  355
Joined  2007-02-13

I like one of the comments, “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 August 2013 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”

I don’t know who (if anyone) is credited with first coining that one (braces self for a barrage of information), but it’s a venerable and very true observation. For example, Portuguese and Gallego (Galician) are very similar, but one has had unquestioned status as a paid-up legit ‘language’ and the other has only in the last decade or so fought its way up from ‘banned dialect’ status. If the Spanish state had managed to hang on to Portugal from 1640 until now, Portuguese and Gallego might not even be considered as separate from each other, let alone as ‘proper’ languages.

And in the 16th century Scots was the language of literature, scholarship and government in Scotland; if James VI hadn’t acquired the English throne, it might still be.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 August 2013 12:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2836
Joined  2007-01-31

“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”

How do you say that in Czech?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 August 2013 03:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

Scots might again be a language, then, depending on the result of next year’s referendum…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 23 August 2013 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  407
Joined  2007-02-14

The Wikipedia article on the phrase “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy” has a good summary of its known history. Max Weinreich said it was an unnamed Bronx teacher who was audited a class of his in the ‘40s. Joshua Fishman has since claimed that he was that person. Others have suggested that Meillet said something similar, but without a citation.

The original Yiddish: “אַ שפּראַך איז אַ דיאַלעקט מיט אַן אַרמיי און פֿלאָט”.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ BL: literally      BL: basket case ››