Language, lists and learning LO20583

Bill Harris (
Fri, 5 Feb 1999 09:32:09 -0800 (PST)

Replying to LO20565 --

I'd like to encourage us to think about what we are doing. We have a
large group, and many of us don't speak English as our primary language
(some of us may not speak it very often at all). That's one of the
strengths of this group: we get to hear ideas we might not ever hear
otherwise, because they have been stimulated by other environments than
those in which we find ourselves and by people unlike us.

To get the benefit of those ideas and those people, we must make it easy
for all of us to participate. As one who has lived and worked in another
culture using another language, I know it can be hard to find the right
word to use to sound natural (or even to make sense), and that can make
one shy about sharing. I was fortunate to work with colleagues who were
very patient with my language skills, who didn't give me any cause to feel
self-conscious, and who, as a result, encouraged me to contribute freely
even when it demanded they listen more carefully and take more time. (Of
course, they weren't above a bit of good-natured kidding when my choice of
words became more embarrassing than confusing.)

So, I'd like to encourage us all to lighten up. I don't want to place
barriers in the way of important contributions by anyone because I benefit
from hearing those ideas. I'm willing to go to a bit of extra effort to
comprehend the ideas of someone who is having to deal with English as a
second language. For those of us who are in the US, this is good practice
as we evolve into a society that is more multicultural and multilingual.

In the case that started this dialog, the author made a _serious_ and
educated attempt to work inside the English language. I'm nervous that
the response might dissuade others whose English skills aren't so great
or who don't have the time or resources to investigate words so

I welcome inclusive dialog on this point.


Bill Harris                                 Year 2000 Program Office
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