Opinions are like languages: Everyone has (at least) one

John jbt at gmx.us
Fri Mar 19 19:01:40 UTC 2021

I hope we can be careful how strongly we word sentiments like:

> Most of us are not even native English speakers

We wouldn't want people to feel like their opinion doesn't count. If you
make use of English in any capacity (and if you're reading this you do),
then it's reasonable for you to have an opinion about this tool you use.

The fact that my native language is the (ironically-termed) lingua
franca here and so many places is a privilege I have due to nothing more
than the circumstances of my birth. It does not grant me special
authority to tell you which words you should use or what they should
mean to you. If anything, it should encourage me to show charity and
make room for those who felt forced "to learn a foreign language before
they can express themselves electronically". If this conversation were
in any other language I would be, at best, severely struggling.

On a related note, there's a certain irony here:

> to get lectured on English by a German

If we were weighing people's opinion based on their native language,
which I advise against, German-speakers would fare pretty well since our
languages are so closely related. In this conversation, for example,
"master" and "Meister" share the same origin and are practically the
same word. In fact, they show up in adages in both our languages where
they refer to mastering a skill: "Jack of all trades, master of none"
and "Übung macht den Meister.".

But that doesn't mean a speaker of a more distant language like Russian
or Chinese can't have a valid observation.

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