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Dennis Baron's go-to site for language and technology in the news

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  • Monolingualism: the native language of intolerance?

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fenixp203@yahoo.com Sep 26, 2007 2:00 pm

In your essay “From Pencils to Pixels,” you state that “the first writing technology was writing itself.”  This suggests that language itself is a technology, the one from which writing developed.  Perhaps then it is a resistance to new technology that raises uneasiness among monolinguals.  Just as the pencil, and typewriter, and computer all had detractors doubtful of the technology’s benefit or benignity, foreign languages have resistors who endeavor to avoid the inclusion of something new.  And, just as pencils were not erased from the writing landscape by the development of the computer, it is doubtful that the acceptance of foreign languages (as more than mere novelty), by monolinguals, will replace “the language of power.”  Still, they resist.  As this topic has become a national debate, it has increasingly gained my interest.  Having recently read your essay and your blog, I have gained a new perspective on this issue.  Namely, that it may be a matter of resistance to a new or unfamiliar technology that elicits political debate on the topic of including foreign languages in the U.S. American languagescape. 

Reply to fenixp203@yahoo.com at 2:00 pm