Obligatory rambling introduction
The ideal of a lingua franca is not a bad ideal. A lingua franca fails speakers when two conditions exist:
- The lingua franca pushes other languages to extinction,
- The lingua franca proves to be sufficiently difficult that people who are not linguistically gifted never master the language.
These two conditions influence each other. A lingua franca (almost by definition) has economic and political importance. If the language is difficult to learn, parents will insist that their children start learning the language at school. Combine with this the power of media to seduce people away from their seemingly "backwards" languages and you have a recipe for language extinction.
Today, English is such a lingua franca. I believe there are many ways to help people protect their mother tongues. Machine translation is one avenue. Machine translation is useful for:
- Translating information from English into other languages, and
- Transforming English into a controlled version of English (which is more readily understood by second and third language speakers).
The other ways to change the current linguistic power hierarchy is to create incentives for people to learn other national languages and also auxiliary languages (such as Esperanto!).
So, I am your host, Wynand Winterbach. Francis Tyers pulled me into this project, since he is adding an English-Afrikaans to Apertium. The reason for my interest in the project, is that I feel very strongly about the continued existence of my mother tongue, Afrikaans.
I consider my profile at the English Wikipedia a little super hub of me-ness.