August 1, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 4:12 AM

GLOBALIZATION IS ANGLOFICATION:

Behemoth, bully, thief: how the English language is taking over the planet : No language in history has dominated the world quite like English does today. Is there any point in resisting? (Jacob Mikanowski,  Jul 2018, The Guardian)

Behemoth, bully, loudmouth, thief: English is everywhere, and everywhere, English dominates. From inauspicious beginnings on the edge of a minor European archipelago, it has grown to vast size and astonishing influence. Almost 400m people speak it as their first language; a billion more know it as a secondary tongue. It is an official language in at least 59 countries, the unofficial lingua franca of dozens more. No language in history has been used by so many people or spanned a greater portion of the globe. It is aspirational: the golden ticket to the worlds of education and international commerce, a parent's dream and a student's misery, winnower of the haves from the have-nots. It is inescapable: the language of global business, the internet, science, diplomacy, stellar navigation, avian pathology. And everywhere it goes, it leaves behind a trail of dead: dialects crushed, languages forgotten, literatures mangled.

One straightforward way to trace the growing influence of English is in the way its vocabulary has infiltrated so many other languages. For a millennium or more, English was a great importer of words, absorbing vocabulary from Latin, Greek, French, Hindi, Nahuatl and many others. During the 20th century, though, as the US became the dominant superpower and the world grew more connected, English became a net exporter of words. In 2001, Manfred Görlach, a German scholar who studies the dizzying number of regional variants of English - he is the author of the collections Englishes, More Englishes, Still More Englishes, and Even More Englishes - published the Dictionary of European Anglicisms, which gathers together English terms found in 16 European languages. A few of the most prevalent include "last-minute", "fitness", "group sex", and a number of terms related to seagoing and train travel.

In some countries, such as France and Israel, special linguistic commissions have been working for decades to stem the English tide by creating new coinages of their own - to little avail, for the most part. (As the journalist Lauren Collins has wryly noted: "Does anyone really think that French teenagers, per the academy's diktat, are going to trade out 'sexting' for texto pornographique?") Thanks to the internet, the spread of English has almost certainly sped up.

The gravitational pull that English now exerts on other languages can also be seen in the world of fiction. The writer and translator Tim Parks has argued that European novels are increasingly being written in a kind of denatured, international vernacular, shorn of country-specific references and difficult-to-translate wordplay or grammar. Novels in this mode - whether written in Dutch, Italian or Swiss German - have not only assimilated the style of English, but perhaps more insidiously limit themselves to describing subjects in a way that would be easily digestible in an anglophone context.

Yet the influence of English now goes beyond simple lexical borrowing or literary influence. Researchers at the IULM University in Milan have noticed that, in the past 50 years, Italian syntax has shifted towards patterns that mimic English models, for instance in the use of possessives instead of reflexives to indicate body parts and the frequency with which adjectives are placed before nouns. German is also increasingly adopting English grammatical forms, while in Swedish its influence has been changing the rules governing word formation and phonology.

Within the anglophone world, that English should be the key to all the world's knowledge and all the world's places is rarely questioned. The hegemony of English is so natural as to be invisible. Protesting it feels like yelling at the moon. Outside the anglophone world, living with English is like drifting into the proximity of a supermassive black hole, whose gravity warps everything in its reach. Every day English spreads, the world becomes a little more homogenous and a little more bland.

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.




Posted by orrinj at 4:11 AM

WHAT'S A UPC SCANNER?


Posted by orrinj at 4:05 AM

NO ONE WILL MISS JOBS:

Too Many Jobs Feel Meaningless Because They Are (Mark Buchanan, August 1, 2018, Bloomberg)

David Graeber of the London School of Economics argues in a recent book that the prevailing myths about the efficiency of capitalism blind us to the fact that much of economic reality is shaped by jockeying for power and status and serves no economic function at all. [...]

In an essay five years ago, he made the seemingly bizarre assertion that perhaps as many as 30 percent of all jobs actually contribute nothing of use to society. It might seem an obnoxious claim, if not for the fact that a huge number of people willingly attest to the worthlessness of their own jobs. A 2015 U.K. survey found that 37 percent of people felt their jobs "did not make a meaningful contribution to the world," and a later poll in the Netherlands found 40 percent saying the same thing.

Perhaps even more surprising is the nature of these "bull[***]t" jobs, as Graeber calls them. They aren't in teaching, cleaning, garbage collecting or firefighting, but seem mostly to be in the professional services sector. Since writing his essay, Graeber says he has been contacted by hundreds of people saying they agree -- they work in pointless jobs which could be eliminated with absolutely no loss to society -- and they've come mostly from human resources, public relations, lobbying or telemarketing, or in finance and banking, consulting, management and corporate law. Of course, neither Graeber nor anyone else can be a final judge which jobs are useful or not, but the people who offer this view of their own jobs come most frequently from the service sector.

Consider the case of Eric, a history graduate hired to oversee a software project ostensibly intended to improve the coordination of different groups in a large firm. Eric only discovered after several years on the job that one of the firm's partners had initiated the project, but that several others were against it and were acting to sabotage its success. His job -- and that of a large staff hired beneath him -- was a meaningless effort to put into place a change that most of the company didn't want.

Another example Graeber provides in the books is of a senior manager for one of the big accounting firms hired by banks to oversee the disbursement of funds for claims against mis-sold insurance. The company, this manager claimed, purposefully mistrained accounting staff and saddled them with impossible tasks so the work could not be done in time and the contract would need to be extended. In other words, the job was intentionally structured so as to siphon off as much of the available funds into the accounting firm, which placed itself as a machine of extraction between the funds and their intended recipients.

These examples are typical, Graeber argues, of jobs generated naturally out of the corporate managerial struggle for influence, status and control of resources.

This is a long way from true capitalism, as Graeber notes, and actually looks more like classic medieval feudalism. Much within the modern corporation is less about making things or solving problems and more about the political process of gaining control over the flows of resources. The result is a proliferation of jobs that actually serve very little if any economic function, and only make sense from the perspective of rent seeking and power relations. Many like to laugh at the absurd inefficiencies of the Soviet Union, where so many people only pretended to do useful work, yet this may be significantly true in Western economies as well (only in the West they actually get paid for it).

Power is measured by the number of employees who report to you, not by the quality of work.

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM

GREATEST WAR EVER:

Taliban says defeats Islamic State fighters in north Afghanistan (Abdul Matin Sahak, 8/01/18, Reuters) 

More than 150 Islamic State fighters surrendered to Afghan security forces in the northwestern province of Jawzjan after they were defeated and driven out by the Taliban, Taliban and government officials said on Wednesday.

The defeat represents a major setback for the group, which first appeared in eastern Afghanistan around four years ago and which had gained a foothold in southern Jawzjan, where it fought for control of smuggling routes into neighboring Turkmenistan.