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Marisa Brook @inthelemonlight
, 9 tweets, 2 min read Read on Twitter
An analogy: languages are like forests, not like gardens. (1/9)
A forest can look chaotic and uncivilised. Unkempt, irregular, full of anarchy. Hard to navigate. The place is full of mosquitoes! There's a hidden pond under all that algae and also that big dead log over there just fell over. Is the place completely out-of-control? (2/9)
The garden is cultivated and neat, and shows off plant species we like for their aesthetic properties (shape, colour, scent, maybe flavour). The upkeep is a lot of effort, but the result is that the garden is attractive and admired. Pleasant, and sometimes envied. (3/9)
But the forest self-regulates. The local ecosystem keeps itself going. It's fine. It's healthy. Nature is doing what it's always done. Trees fall, species feed on other species, plants decompose, others grow. The system does not care what you think about its appearance. (4/9)
The garden is pretty to those who cultivated it, but it is artificial. Its plants have been strongarmed into doing things that nature wasn't doing by default. Its growth is limited by what local humans want. Plants spreading around as usual is considered undesirable. (5/9)
Languages act like forests. It is popular to create a garden (a standard form of a language - how to speak 'well'/'correctly' in a society) and defend it. But it is not the natural state, and maintaining it is going to be an uphill battle that doesn't justify itself. (6/9).
All active languages undergo linguistic change continuously, and there is no evidence that any language or dialect is becoming 'dumbed down'. Linguistic change and non-standard dialects are often regarded with contempt, but those impressions are not backed up by science. (7/9)
We like the species we select for the garden, but nature pays little to no regard to our preferences. Those are just our own judgments about plants we approve of. Heck, the people in the next town from us over might have a completely different opinion of chrysanthemums. (8/9)
A small garden is fine. I'm not going to deny the art of flower-arranging. It might make sense to keep fruit trees nearby. But no one should be worrying about the health of the forest ecosystem - or trying to turn an entire forest into gardens supposedly for its own good. (9/9)
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