Recently passed legislation by the Romanian and Slovak parliaments
discriminating against the language rights of minorities have once
again put the spotlight on human rights violations in the former Soviet
Block countries. The issue of language rights is of general concern
world-wide with some 7000 languages spoken of which only less than 200
are "official". A recently published book which deals with this issue is
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas and Robert Phillipson (Ed.),
Linguistic Human Rights,
Mouton de Gruyter, New York, 1995.
>From the jacket: "Discrimination against language minorities is
widespread, despite much national and international law which prohibits
this. Generally it is only speakers of official languages who enjoy
all linguistic human rights. The book documents and analyses language
rights in many countries worldwide. The scope, reality and potential of
linguistic human rights are assessed in a range of states, in relevant
international covenants, and in the evolving supranational entities of
western and eastern Europe. ...Suggestions are made for what constitutes
basic, inalienable linguistic human rights and how appropriate policies
can lead to a reduction of "ethnic" conflict."
Also, from the large number of cases cited:
"A Kurdish mother in Diyarbakir visits her son in prison. The guard
says that they have to speak Turkish to each other. The mother does
not know any Turkish. This is a question of linguistic human rights."
"Refugees in Denmark (and many other countries) with university degrees
who read and write Arabic/Farsi/Tamil etc, are considered "illiterate"
and have to be "alphabetized"."
CSABA K. ZOLTANI
Doug Hormann ) wrote:
: >......... The screenwriter's only
: >: mistake was assuming his American audience would pick up on the
: >: unlikelihood of Soze's Turkish adventure. It was too subtle for an
: >: American audience, just like the detail that Soze's lawyer/henchman
: >: Kobayashi was South Asian (Pakistani or Indian) when Kobayashi is a
: >: Japanese surname.
: >I also can't remember Verbal mentioning that Kobayashi was South Asian,
: >but I began to hear the unreliable narrator warning bell when the actor
: >who played this ostenisbly Japanese lawyer proved to be patently white.
: > Many of my countrymen would be hard placed to identify
: >: where Mexico or Canada is on a globe, much less Hungary, Turkey or Japan.
: >: Sam Stowe
: >Isn't this the truth.
: Having only recently joined this discussion group, I ask your
: forbearance on my ignorance. At the risk of coming off as jingoistic I find
: myself becoming somewhat disgruntled at my fellow American's penchant for
: insulting other American's in this newsgroup (reference the quoted
Doug: I'm actually not the guy who made the assertion that the
etymological nuances inherent in the names used in "The Usual Suspects"
were too subtle to register in the average American mind. Nor did I ape
the typical American geographical sense, but, as you can see above, I did
second this latter notion. The reason why I and many other (especially
foreign) people harbor the idea that Americans are educated inferiorly is
basically because it's true. I am not a finger-pointing elitist in this
instance, however, because when I made that comment I was thinking of my
own morbid knowledge-gaps in geography, and many other essential areas.
A much more shining example of the American educative system than most --
not because of my acumen, but because I was fortunate enough to attend
both a high school and college which were extremely highly-rated, private
institutions -- I think I am indicative, perhaps the epitome, of its
Part of my ignorance on vital topics is due to the pubescent wanderlust
that keeps most kids that age uninterested in all-things-scholastic. But
a great part of it is due to the fact that at no time during my
schooling, since the age of 12, was I forced to look at a map for
anything, or exposed to many seminal texts, tools or concepts in other
disciplines. You can make the argument that, like Faulkner or Frederick
Douglass, I should have resorted to self-education a little more
than I did. But you can also pause to consider that there are millions
of other kids in this country who didn't come close to receiving the
educational opportunities I did. This, I think, is the reason why, when
I first took an English class in college, I was amazed to realize that
the average kid there could not write coherent sentences. And it's
definitely the reason why I'll call it like it is when the subject of
American education comes up, even if it irks your nationalist
: The author sees fit to make these remarks having no basis
: whatsoever for such an attack. It is true that the average American does
I am not only the basis, but also the poster-boy. I didn't even know
where 90% of the Asian countries were until my senior year in college,
even though a former girlfriend was part Indonesian and Chinese (I didn't
even know what Indonesia was until my Freshman year). I used to think
Turkey was where Eastern China is. And I don't think that if you asked
me right now I could point out more than half the American states on a
: not speak Hungarian, or Turkish for that matter, therefore it is unlikely
: that they would understand the subtle meaning of the names used. However,
: making the broad leap to imply that American's are a bunch of ignorant
: unlettered savages who cannot identify their own geographic neighbors shows
: a distinct lack of sophistication on the part of the author.
Rather, a lack of sophistication on the part of my generation.
: Perhaps he is unaware that Edward Teller, the great Hungarian born
: physicist, rose to fame in the crucible of American scientific endevour;
: or that T. S. Eliot, the great British author and critic, was American
: born. Aaron Copland, Frank Lloyd Wright, Benjamin Franklin, George
: Washington Carver, Maya Angelou, Duke Ellington, Emily Dickinson, and the
: Wright Brothers all bespeak the greatness that has and remains America's
: intellectual tradition. And with the possible exception of Teller, none of
: them understood Hungarian or Turkish either.
Ah, let's talk about literature. There are few knowledge-areas, besides the
already aptly cited example of geography, that exemplify the malnourished,
pygmy decrepitude of average American scholariship. You are very right to
point out that the American canon is teeming with awesome minds, although I
would amend your list to include some far more worthy names: Faulkner,
Fitzgerald, the great Nabokov (whose best work was American, not Russian)
and, of course, "grand, ungodly, god-like" Herman Melville.
It is analogously awesome the degree to which the average American is
stupefyingly ignorant of and uninterested in these artists. This is due
in part to educative heresies similar to those aforementioned, many of them
springing from the obsequious and revolting mixture of socio-economic
politics with art stubbornly perpetuated by many educators. This is why
Huck Finn is removed from libraries because it contains the word
"nigger," and many essential works of art are omitted from reading lists
in favor of vapid, ephemeral writings. This is why you cite Maya
Angelou, a lousy poet, as an example of American intellectual eminence.
The plot becomes so thick you could use it for a contraceptive gel.
: I don't know much about Hungary or its people. I subscribed to
Neither do I. I'm not the flatulent, dusty curmudgeon you think I am.
: summer. Being American I pray that other members of this list will now use
: small words so that my feeble American brain can understand them.
Being American, I pray that my peers will resort to any means necessary
to rekindle our collective excellence in matters more gentile and refined
than football and the niceties of Monster Trucking.
And why should we care that you use a PowerBook?