The Language of Prestige

^^   Wed Aug 29, 2007 4:28 am GMT
To start off, this is NOT a troll thread.
I saw a movie about two immigrant families in Israel, one from India and one from Morocco. One spoke English and the other French within themselves, respectively. This got me thinking. Most non-Western countries still have this antiquated idea of a prestigious language which the elite speaks, with the middle class that tries to imitate that (as always).
Soooo, does your country have this idea of a prestigious language? English clearly occupies that position in many countries, and in some, like India, it's felt especially strongly because of the past. However, I'm interested to find out if languages other than English play this role. Although I think it's not as bad today as it used to be and people have more pride in their local language, yet it would still be quite interesting to see how it really is!
Skippy   Wed Aug 29, 2007 5:31 am GMT
The stereotypical "smug"/overeducated and conceited upper class person in America would sprinkle their speech with French phrases... Raison d'etre, je ne sais quoi, esprit de corps, n'est-ce pas etc.

I have also come to the realization that, in print, people who have this same smugness tend to use Latin phrases without translating them... There's nothing worse than wrecking your train of thought by having to translate in your head "cuius regio, eius religio" or "casus belli." (I realize those two are basic or relatively common, but they're the only two I could think of off the top of my head).

Some people also use certain German phrases like "Weltanschauung." I guess for English speakers it's kind of a collage of different languages... lol
^^   Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:04 am GMT
LOL, I can imagine some incongruous juxtaposition in which a Valley Girl walks around the mall and tells her friend as they see a mutual acquaintance:

- She's like so lame, her entire raison d'ĂȘtre is to purchase last season clothes on the sale rack so that our country's economy would keep on running.
- Like oh my god you're so right!
Xie Z.A.   Wed Aug 29, 2007 6:29 am GMT
In my place, none. English was the only widely used language in the government until the handover ten years ago. But even after a decade, English is still very popular in the business and elite circles. English is the official language of universities (if not all)....

With a (supposedly) good enough command of English, every Caucasian visiting/working/living in Hong Kong may always use English without having to learn a bit of Chinese at all. This is, however, not true for some Asian peoples living here.

Some other western languages might have been popular among some Chinese (and, perhaps, westerners). But they are also the past. Mandarin is rising quickly as a "prestigious" language for business reasons, despite the fact that it is actually quasi-official.
Franco   Wed Aug 29, 2007 8:09 am GMT
The language of elite psychology is German.
Guest   Wed Aug 29, 2007 2:23 pm GMT
Franco, you must be right since Freud wrote in German. I was under the impression that French and Italian are important too. Just the other day I borrow a copy Micropsychoanalysis by an Italian names Sylvio Fanti, I went to Amazon to see the reviews of other people and to my surprise, not one copy of the English version was available! And the foreword did say he was translated into like 30 languages.
semicatskillian   Wed Aug 29, 2007 7:59 pm GMT
At an online astronomy forum, every now and then you'll see a short post in Latin, or at least a sentence in Latin (despite the fact that only English is allowed, officially). I guess posts like that are meant to impress us folks who don't know Latin.

Recently, someone announced in Latin (I think) the purchase of a $10000+ Astro-Physics AP1200 equatorial telescope mount for high-end amateur astrophotography.

It's interesting that the Latin post got no reaction, although all sorts of folks congratulated him (including me) when he mentioned it in English a few posts later. I guess knowledge of Latin is not that widespread.