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Third Cultures

While  human rights  can be widely agreed upon in principle and this enables cooperation among the many countries that have promised to uphold the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights , disagreement often arises about how to implement rights in practice. In some parts of Asia, for instance, many people feel that economic security, including the right to have a job or a home, is more important than the right to engage in free speech or political activity. Many Europeans, on the other hand, would argue that economic security depends on the right to speak freely or take part in political activities.  When it comes to  language rights , there is an even wider spread of opinion. Like human rights, language rights can be personal, because everyone's individual experience of learning and using languages is different. On the other hand, language is a community rather than an individual activity, so when we discuss language rights we tend to think of the rights of communities. B
Recent posts

Legal translation and legal transparency

Nearly three years ago the problems of bilingual law were discussed on   (2016.5.26). In general, lawyers and judges prefer to deal with cases in one language, even if they themselves speak several, as they fear that ambiguities may arise when different languages are used. So most legal systems work monolingually, with translation and interpreting to produce official records in the official language. Asia, however, has several legal systems where more than one language is used. Bilingual legal systems often result from the introduction of a local language in countries where the law was previously administered in a colonial language. Hence Bangladesh, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and many Indian States allow the use of Bangla, Chinese, Malay, Sinhala or Tamil, or various Indian State languages in court alongside English. Macao and Timor Leste allow Chinese and Tetun respectively to be used alongside Portuguese. Why didn't these co

Romanisation in Kazakhstan and beyond

A few years ago (2012.12.26) reported on plans in Kazakhstan to switch from writing Kazakh in the Russian-based Cyrillic alphabet to the Latin-based Roman alphabet . This Central Asian nation now seems to be pushing ahead with those plans. 77 year-old President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who has ruled since independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, is especially keen on romanisation and put his National Commission for the Modernisation of Society in charge of it. When countries choose a writing system for languages that were previously unwritten, or decide to change the existing system, there are usually political and economic reasons as well as linguistic and educational ones. It seems Nazarbayev would like to move away from Russian influence, even though Russian continues to be an official language alongside Kazakh and is still understood by most people. But in which direction does he want to go? One possibility is Turk