Two opinions on language

  • Hyphenated compounds where one of the elements has two or more words should have a hyphen joining those normally separated words, e.g., not a United States-based company (what is “United” applying to? “States” or “company”? makes no sense, visually confusing) but a United-States-based company (modifier is one clearly defined unit; immediately visually congruent). Another example I recently came across: screens with bright blue light-heavy displays — why not write bright-blue-light-heavy displays to help make it clear what this trail of adjectives is referring to?
  • Languages should not be named according to the country of which they are a state language, if that country was created after the language’s establishment and clearly has other languages within its territory. So, for instance, Portuguese and Luxembourgish are fine; Spanish and German are not. I’ll concede French is a dubious case (whereas it was only imposed in/to the country of France recently, it was already named after France before). What is happening here is an obvious category error: state languages are a property of a state, and a state is a political and bureaucratic entity, and is not the territories controlled by that entity, the peoples living in them, or the languages they speak. This includes the state language itself, which exists as a “language” entity outside of having that “state language” property; however, since a state is a stronger entity, conceptually, than a language (as it has a map flag, a territory, a football team, etc.), the language as an entity will tend to be simplified/subsumed into that of the state. Worse — confusion between those planes of existence is, in itself, a goal of the state, which will tend to seek to legitimize and reinforce itself by legibilizing, uniformizing, controlling, and absorbing everything it can; we, by internalizing this confusion and reproducing it whenever our mental frameworks and the world interact, are in a way disseminating the state’s worldview (and for free!).
    P.S.: it seems that Lombard-language-Wikipedia user Sciking had this same idea at least 4 years ago. From the Wiki’s page on the Lombard language itself, underlining mine: “In la lenguistega italiana a l’è ciamaa despess “dialett”, per el sò utilizz minga offizial e tipicament sottamiss a la lengua toscana.

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