Off-topic : Linguaje (was Re: Peking/Beijing)

From: Patrick Andries (
Date: Fri Oct 15 1999 - 14:55:00 EDT

-----Message d'origine-----
De : Edward Cherlin <>

>At 22:32 +0200 10/7/1999, Jonathan Rosenne wrote:
>> >And of course, that several of the various languages of China are
>> >called "dialects", which is like calling English and Castilian
>> >(Spanish to the hoi polloi) "dialects" of Latin, or calling Catalan
>> >and Portuguese "dialects' of Castilian.
>>The principle difference between a dialect and a language is that a
>>language has an army. Thus, Danish and Dutch are languages, Frisian and
>>Schwabish are dialects.
>An old joke with a good political point but not much accuracy. Look
>at all the Spanish-, English-, French-, Chinese-, and Arabic-speaking
>countries. That's why I put in Portuguese and Catalan together as
>minimally contrasting examples.

I am not sure I understand. The multiplicity of French speaking countries
does not mean that it didn't take a least one state (and its army as symbol)
to transform the dialect spoken by those in power in that state into a
language. After all, isn't this the reason why a small "language" like
Luxembourgeois actually exists : it is the majority language of a (very
small) state, while right across the German border the same language is a

As I said, I'm not sure I understood.

P. Andries

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