War Against ‘The War On English’
Following up on the post Zero Translation – If you will allow; my thoughts on the recent over-the-top Bloomberg’s China’s War on English – by Dexter Roberts:
“Chinese authorities are waging a war on American culture and the use of English.” –Dexter Roberts
The Empire Strikes Back
If there’s a war on language, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is the English one against all others (I am a German native speaker, so take some from me):
It has been shown -over and over again- how European translations of all things Asian have directly misinterpreted those other civilizations, and robbed the Asians of their originality, their inventiveness, and their intellectual property rights. This great destruction of foreign words follows the history of the Europeans like genocide, colonialism, and orientalism.
For years, established scholars try to reach Western media outlets like Bloomberg, NYT, WSJ, Science, The Economist, and what not to inform people like Mr. Roberts of this systematic, relentless US-Anglophone language imperialism.
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But he, like all others, tries to play it safe in life and instead accuses China of a war of resistance against Anglicism. But this resistance has a precursor. I’ll suggest, for the sake of a balanced argument, to write about the war on non-Western words some time in your distinguished publication.
Give and Take – The Law of Reciprocity
To be sure, English may be the international language, but it is NOT the global language. The future of global language would require tens of thousands of non-European vocabularies on top of it. China knows it, Japan knows it, India knows it, Iran knows it… you won’t print it, so their ideas do not exist.
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Europeans and Americans have been particularly cruel to the Chinese tradition. Very few words entered the English parlance (as compared to Sanskrit words, or Japanese ones).
China has basically sucked up the knowledge of the Western world; yet what it had to offer back in return had been categorically censored, rejected, omitted, obliterated, or translated into convenient (often biblical and philosophical) European vocabularies.
We all know, America takes great pride in having “liberated” the races, the genders, and entire countries from foreign oppression. But you forgot to liberate the words.
China, in all fairness, is closer to the truth than America … that knowledge is a polyglot.
Image credit: ChrisDorney/Shutterstock.com
Crossposted at You’ve Heard About It
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