dijous, de novembre 16, 2006

We Live in a World of Doubt (further comments from my Linguistics course) (English)

Or: "Forgive the young, the tides have not washed enough of their days away..."
Of course, no one can predict the future, and I wouldn't attempt to, but I would caution anyone who puts his or her eggs all in one basket.

When I was in High School, we believed the Soviet Union would start a war that would destroy us all. In fact, being a mere 10 miles from a second strike target in Pennsylvania, we were even taught what areas of the county would be vaporized, what zones in the firestorm, what zones would have doors and windows blown out, and what zones would merely suffer radiation poisoning. I remember my biology teacher saying that when he heard the Soviets were bombing, he planned to take his wife and daughters to the army depot and wait there to be vaporized.

Yet, most of you who are younger than I did not know that world, or are too young to have understood it. The world was a different place a mere 20 years ago.
A century? None of us will recognize the world then really, not if we could see it from our seats behind our computers.

My aunt Arwilda was born in 1908. When she was a girl, Latin and French were the languages to learn, and the farmers in the countryside all spoke Deits (Pennsylvania German). There was no electricity in her town, nor were the streets paved. They had telephones, but no radio. She read the Sears Catalogue by gaslight. She could remember her mother renting a horse and buggy at the livery stable down the block to ride to a rather distant village (15 miles away) on a family emergency. She was in such a hurry, the buggy went up on one wheel as she rounded the corner on her way out of the livery. My aunt lived until 1994. She saw a gaslit, horse and buggy world evolve into a world with computers, color television and the very real threat of hot, atomic death.

I think you have all posited very fine thoughts, but many of you make leaps of faith and commit dreadful logical fallacies. The future is as mutable (changeable) as the past was varied, indeed, moreso. Perhaps English will still be important in 100 years. Certainly it will still be spoken.
But while it shall still be spoken, it won't necessarily be the first language in schools and in business meetings. One thing is relatively certain, the United States will not be the world's only power. This is new, and it won't last, no country holds power for long, and as I have pointed out in several places, there are many tell-tale signs of our decline. I suspect it is likely that we will still be an important player in the global arena, but we will be sharing top-billing with other nations, just as we have in the past.

Things will not always be as they are now.

Watch out, tomorrow will be exciting, thrilling, hair-raising, and nothing like any of us imagines ;)