Lingua Franca

on 04 November 2012
I don't think culture matters. And as language is a subset of culture, by logic and extension, I don't believe that language matters, either. Cultures have been evolving--and going extinct--for millenia. No different from what species have been doing over the same period of time.

As far as I can tell, all culture (and language) are just constructs created by minds from various places and times. Culture is not a sentient being; it does not mourn the fact that it is becoming less relevant or less significant. It does not mourn its obsolescence.

By logic and reason, this is true. But if it is, then why is it so sacrilegious to openly make this statement? I don't usually come across many people who agree with my perspective, especially in normal, real-life situations. But on the internet, well, that's a whole 'nother story.

A few days ago I came across a post on Hacker News--where I come across a lot of great nuggets of thought. I believe the top-level of the thread was discussing the TED talk related to dropping off computers/tablets to illiterate primary school students and then coming back a few months later to see how much progress had been made by the cohort. But that's not really the reason for this post (though it's a fascinating TED talk).

What I thought was most interesting in the Hacker New thread was the following comment, which talks about the importance of English when it comes to the propagation of knowledge and information. What I appreciate most about this comment is that it was written by someone from a completely different worldview.

I don't really care about the English language. I'm lucky that I speak it as my first language, but that's not what matters. What matters is that the world--humanity--is coalescing around a universal mode of communication. And if other languages die out as a result, then so be it.
Precisely. I see no point in teaching them in anything but English. They're children, if they don't know it, they will learn fast. In fact, teaching them in any other language would be a step backwards. 
I am not a native English speaker myself. I am Mexican. Yes, native Spanish speaker which is supposedly one of the top 3 most widely spoken languages on Earth and I must confess that most of the time I don't see the point in reading any content in Spanish anymore (except for some literature - in other words, yes, you probably want to read Shakespeare in English and Cervantes in Spanish, etc) 
Foreign news, science, technology in Spanish? all that content is nothing but translations (sometimes bad ones) from the original English source. I see how something could get posted on HN one day and only after many days (usually weeks) it would finally appear in the "Technology News" section of the most "cutting edge" newspapers and media in Latin America or Spain. 
I live here in Japan and most scientific papers and research from major universities (like Kyoto or Tokyo University) is also published in English. I think it's cute to try to keep one's traditions and culture alive but at the end of the day being able to communicate efficiently with each other and do stuff like hacking Android is what keeps the world spinning. Anything else in your way is just extra overhead.