Thursday 26 September 2013

Lingua Franca? Lingu Sinica? Lingua Britannica?

I must admit. I'm a bit befuddled by the geographical distribution of the Subversive Archaeologist's readership: the data below, from the past seven days, is a pretty good proxy for the all-time number. 

I might allow myself to be flattered, or encouraged, by the proportionately large numbers from the PRC and the Ukraine, if I didn't find it so unexpected. 
My first reaction was to suggest that those two tallies might be the result of spammers. But that thinking would amount to disparaging hundreds of non-Enlgish speaking anthropologists. Maybe if we look at the numbers in a different way their meaning might become clearer.

As a proportion of that country's total population, the 412 visits from the PRC represent 4.12 X 10-7 percent. What's that—something on the order of one ten-millionth of the total? That's pretty close to the same datum for the United States: 3.6 X 10-7 percent—nearly identical. Of course, those nearly identical numbers gloss over a fundamental difference between the two countries. For these numbers to be considered comparable, would it not require that the U.S. readership be made up entirely of American anthropologists who speak, or at least read, Chinese? Hold your horses.

Isn't it much more likely that the highly educated of those non-English speaking countries have learned English for scholarly reasons? If so, we're looking, once again, at an artifact of geopolitical history—the part that resulted from English imperialist, capitalist, and Christianist oppression of the world's people. A different historical trajectory might have seen this blog written in Mandarin Chinese, with all of the non-PRC visitors reading Mandarin Chinese as the scholarly lingua franca, instead of English.

Aside: you'll recall, in post-Medieval Europe the scholarly lingua france was classical Latin, which put the Germanic language-speaking northern Europeans at a slight disadvantage as compared with the Italians, French, Spanish, and Portuguese. But, for a time—until England had its way with half the world—so-called western science was more linguistically egalitarian. Not so today.

The inference I draw from these numbers is quite simple. I can't be otherwise than hugely gratified that so many gifted people from other countries and cultures choose to spend their time here at the Subversive Archaeologist. Either that, or I'm a sentimental, self-aggrandizing, descendant of English immigrants to North America. Never mind that. It's ancient . . . er . . . Medieval history.

Thank you, all, for dropping by!


SA announces new posts on the Subversive Archaeologist's facebook page (mirrored on Rob Gargett's news feed), on Robert H. Gargett's page, Rob Gargett's twitter account, and his Google+ page. A few of you have already signed up to receive email when I post. Others have subscribed to the blog's RSS feeds. You can also become a 'member' of the blog through Google Friend Connect. Thank you for your continued patronage. You're the reason I do this.

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