0084: "National Language"

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0084: "National Language"

Postby stuff » Mon May 07, 2007 7:09 am UTC

[url=http://xkcd.com/c84.html]Image

http://xkcd.com/c84.html[/url]

The "Code Talkers" comic reminded me of this one, but searched and didn't find any discussions of it. Anyone know what it means and how to pronounce it correctly?
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Postby ArchangelShrike » Mon May 07, 2007 8:12 am UTC

I would guess she's saying her name, given that "Sarah" is capitalized.
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Postby EvanED » Mon May 07, 2007 9:11 am UTC

I'm actually curious which character is modeled after the friend.
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Postby LE4dGOLEM » Mon May 07, 2007 10:25 am UTC

One of the ones on the end.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby sylvar » Fri Sep 28, 2007 2:16 pm UTC

As far as I can tell (see below for details), it means "Hello, my name is Sarah."

Disclaimer: I've never studied Cherokee; I've just got some linguistics training.

According to the Cherokee Nation's language pages, "Osiyo" is a greeting equivalent to "Hello". (In some places, this is transliterated "Osio".)

There is no equivalent to the English retroflex "r" sound in Cherokee. (It's not all that common in other languages, either; it's one of the things people sometimes find difficult about learning to speak English.)

I'm guessing that "Sarah", therefore, is just the name of a person.

This makes sense given that "da-qua-dov" (da-qua-do-v) is used in saying what your name is. The "v" at the end represents the same nasal "unh" that you make when you say "Nuh-uh!" or "Uh-huh!". So it would sound like "da-kwa-do-unh", which (for most North American English speakers) would sound pretty close to "dawado".
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Rosa » Fri Sep 28, 2007 3:27 pm UTC

Qualification: I have no background on the Cherokee language. I'm only partially registering and posting to be an ass, but a few notes:

I don't really see your connection to English pronunciation and meaning. Or orthography to pronunciation.

And English doesn't have a retroflex r. But the point that Sarah is an English name and not lexical item of Cherokee seems accurate. /l/ is their only phonemic liquid and is the closest I know of to the alveolar approximant used in English (IPA upside-down r). Apparently one dialect had the trilled /r/ assimilated from Spanish speakers, but not sure if that is something common today.

Oh, and you're right: http://www.ipl.org/div/hello/cherokee.html

Pasted from Wikipedia:
"The Cherokee language does not contain any "r" based sounds, and as such, the word "Cherokee" when spoken in the language is expressed as Tsa-la-gi (pronounced Jah-la-gee, or Cha-la-gee) by native speakers, since these sounds most closely resemble the English language. A Southern Cherokee group did speak a local dialect with a trill consonant "r" sound, after early contact with Europeans of both French and Spanish ancestry in Georgia and Alabama during the early 18th century"
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby william » Sat Sep 29, 2007 2:36 pm UTC

Rosa, intro thread.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby voodooKobra » Fri Oct 26, 2007 12:57 am UTC

My mom's half-Cherokee and we do this every time someone tells us, "You should speak Spanish!" Only we aim for vulgarities more than introductions.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby gormster » Fri Oct 26, 2007 1:32 am UTC

Okay, seriously for a second, though, would you emigrate to, say, France, without learning at least a little French? I'm about as far from right wing as it gets but I think if you're going to an English speaking country you should probably do everything you can to learn that language. Of course, preventing official documents from being printed in multiple languages is just stupid. I live in Australia where something like 95% of the population are native English speakers and we still tend to get stuff in twelve different languages.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby ascendingPig » Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:26 pm UTC

I do confess to a degree of irritation at the expense to taxpayers of hiring translators for official documents, but I certainly prefer it to having a Mexican waiter who can't read the sign instructing him to wash his hands.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Sun Oct 28, 2007 7:41 pm UTC

South Africa used to have two official languages, both of which European in origin. As part of its transforation we have 12 now, including all of the major original native tongues.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Eleyras » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:19 am UTC

Rosa wrote:And English doesn't have a retroflex r. But the point that Sarah is an English name and not lexical item of Cherokee seems accurate. /l/ is their only phonemic liquid and is the closest I know of to the alveolar approximant used in English (IPA upside-down r). Apparently one dialect had the trilled /r/ assimilated from Spanish speakers, but not sure if that is something common today.

Depends on dialect, really, I know I use more of a retroflex r unless I'm singing in choir or speaking japanese, in which case it's an alveolar tap instead of an approximant.
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Re:

Postby TheKhakinator » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:15 pm UTC

EvanED wrote:I'm actually curious which character is modeled after the friend.

The character that speaks Cherokee is likely the friend. Why? Well, the alt-text is "She's pretty sharp when provoked." so it suggests his friend is the one being retaliatory - QED, his friend is the one who speaks Cherokee.
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Re: Re:

Postby Moo » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:26 pm UTC

stupid comment removed because the more I look at the comic the more I agree with the Khakinator.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Kizyr » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:44 pm UTC

ascendingPig wrote:I do confess to a degree of irritation at the expense to taxpayers of hiring translators for official documents, but I certainly prefer it to having a Mexican waiter who can't read the sign instructing him to wash his hands.

There's also the fact that a lot of official documents are so damned confusing that even in English they're hard for me to understand.

Like the instructions for getting a driver's license in Virginia (or most states, for that matter). The English instructions confuse even me; someone who's first language is Spanish might be completely all right getting by in English but still get confused by them.

Which is kind of why it's rather silly to get all in an uproar over legislation on having multilingual versions of anything. Any legislation could only apply to official documents (government-sourced, e.g.), and those are the documents that can tend to be the most confusing. KF
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Belial » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:57 pm UTC

gormster wrote:Okay, seriously for a second, though, would you emigrate to, say, France, without learning at least a little French? I'm about as far from right wing as it gets but I think if you're going to an English speaking country you should probably do everything you can to learn that language. Of course, preventing official documents from being printed in multiple languages is just stupid. I live in Australia where something like 95% of the population are native English speakers and we still tend to get stuff in twelve different languages.


I think the point is that we're a country of immigrants squatting in someone else's territory, so we don't get to act self-righteous. Just suck it up and deal with it.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Mon Oct 29, 2007 2:29 pm UTC

But Belial's argument does not hold for the British then. There are very, very large amounts of Eastern European immigrants who can travel here freely as citizens of European Union member-states and who never bother to learn a word of English - which makes policing, schooling, medical services etc etc a nightmare to govern. It is a serious social problem.

My opinion:
    - whether or not it is the original native language of a country; if it is the modern official language of the country, and you expect to get around in that country, it is a little lazy and silly not to learn enough of that language to get by.
    - when you have a substantial amount of people in a country that speak a specific language other than the official language, especially when it is a language spoken by original natives, it may be socialy responsible and perhaps even cost-effective to recognize this language and provide essential services in it. Perhaps this could be done in a quid-pro-quo fashion, as in "we will provide legal documents and medical services in your language if you commit to learning ours".

Please keep in mind I don't know much about American socio-economics or politics.

On a different note, I have to take an exam to prove I can speak English and integrate into British society by the end of the year if I want to stay here (since I'm from outside the European Union).
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Trella » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:02 pm UTC

I could be 100% wrong but for some reason part of me remembers being taught in high school that America *technically* has no true "official" language.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Scilly_Guy » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:07 pm UTC

Its surprising the number of United Statesians who can't speak any language (I am aware of the irony! It was intentional), they claim to be able to speak English but when us Brits try to point out that you have it all wrong you claim that we speak your language, hmm now if I recall you're descended from us!
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby shoyer » Mon Oct 29, 2007 3:50 pm UTC

Seriously folks, immigrants know better any native assholes the advantages of learning the dominant language. No legal coercement is necessary.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:06 pm UTC

shoyer wrote:Seriously folks, immigrants know better (than) any native assholes the advantages of learning the dominant language. No legal coercement is necessary.
That's a bit harsh. And rude.

That must be why this asshole spent two weeks working alongside a Lithuanian woman who could not speak the first word of English but insisted on constantly trying to make me understand her by yelling at me.

Excerpt from BBC article:
"The government estimates 35,000 of the 95,000 skilled migrants who entered the UK last year would not have been able to show they could speak the language."

That's 35,000 people that didn't "know better". That's quite a few.

Also, I'm not sure anyone suggested legal coercion. I suggested incentive, which is very different.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Kizyr » Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:22 pm UTC

Trella wrote:I could be 100% wrong but for some reason part of me remembers being taught in high school that America *technically* has no true "official" language.

No, that's true, the US doesn't have an official language. Even if we did have an "official" language, I really doubt it'd change very much on the ground--except for perhaps providing an illegitimate excuse to deny services and information to people who's English isn't that good (e.g., DMV info).

Scilly_Guy wrote:Its surprising the number of United Statesians who can't speak any language (I am aware of the irony! It was intentional), they claim to be able to speak English but when us Brits try to point out that you have it all wrong you claim that we speak your language, hmm now if I recall you're descended from us!

Well if you folks would quit putting arbitrary "u"s in your words, and would pronounce the "r" sounds correctly, then maybe there wouldn't be any problems! ...perhaps if you agree to ditch the Welsh accent, keep the London accent(s) and we can negotiate towards some common understanding. KF
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:24 pm UTC

Kizyr wrote:Well if you folks would quit putting arbitrary "u"s in your words, and would pronounce the "r" sounds correctly, then maybe there wouldn't be any problems! ...perhaps if you agree to ditch the Welsh accent, keep the London accent(s) and we can negotiate towards some common understanding. KF
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby LarrySDonald » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:13 pm UTC

I don't feel it's fair for the US to have to fork up for translations into any arbitrary language. I say this with some justification as I'm not english speaking by nature, although in the computer/hacker world it is for sure lingua franca, even before living in the US I spoke it and commented my code in it, never thinking twice about why. In a minor legal argument (regarding my rights to potentially build a wind tower in my back yard) a more legally endowed friend suggested I insist any communication be in swedish, since I'm while I can communicate fairly well in English, I'm not entirely sure I get the nuances of their arguments. The hope, of course, would be that it's really more of a hassle to get it everything translated (over and over and over, giving every reply in excruciating detail and then complaining about misunderstandings about those details) then to simply say "Fine! Be a nut that feels like building a wind tower out of concrete and 2x4s. Uncle!".

It might have worked but I didn't because I feel it's reasonable to limit what language you can submit something to the state in. English, possibly Spanish, but past that I don't consider it that harsh to insist the person fork up for a translator or learn the next language. Possibly, the native languages should be kept for historical reasons, I can't imagine them being owed less and it's not like there will be a great influx of submissions in Cherokee.

At the same time, I do get upset with the "English is the language of god" implication by many. Businesses and people should speak what they want. I've had many people show up outside the US speaking not a stitch of the local language and I think it's a terrific thing to be graceful about that. If it's possible to communicate in something else or a business wishes to offer that convenience to other speakers, great. That little sign saying "Hablar Espanol" is really that much of an eye sore? The part where they say "Press 2 for Spanish" is really the part of the tragic state of automated systems you bag on? Oh, they kept me on hold playing easy listening at me for two hours, asked me to repeat my personal info four times and then couldn't fix my problems, but at least they didn't ask if I wanted them to do it in spanish? Please..

Since you've read this far, I'll give you a tip. If you use an ATM that requests you to pay $1 or $1.5 to make a withdrawal from another bank, they often don't if you ask it to speak spanish or any language other then english. I assume it's because it's not worth it to make a legally watertight version of "You realize you'll have to pay x to withdraw from this bank and we have a legal right to blah blah blah by section 5 paragrah blah blah.." into another language, but if you can negotiate the rest of the menus without a language you know, they'll often simply not charge it even if they do using the English menus. You're welcome.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:37 pm UTC

Larry, I can't speak for anyone else on here, but I personally would not advocate free translation services into x different languages on a whim; however I wonder if there isn't an upper limit at which point you say if that large percentage of the country speaks this language we should acknowledge that (in your post you give Spanish as an example). Not just any arbitrary language. Swedish would for example be totally unjustified since it is not widely spoken in the US.

I myself have English as my second language but my mother tongue is not widely spoken in England and it has no historical significance here so I would never insist on it. Even if I had not been speaking English from a young age, I would have learnt enough to get by before I left everything behind and made a new life in a strange country.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Kizyr » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:23 pm UTC

Moo wrote:Larry, I can't speak for anyone else on here, but I personally would not advocate free translation services into x different languages on a whim; however I wonder if there isn't an upper limit at which point you say if that large percentage of the country speaks this language we should acknowledge that (in your post you give Spanish as an example). Not just any arbitrary language. Swedish would for example be totally unjustified since it is not widely spoken in the US.

The current de facto system in place is fine as it is. A lot of folks like to use hyperbole when trying to argue an "English-only" stance, saying something like "oh we can't have 50 translations of everything we make!" when the reality is, like what's been said here, we're really only talking about 2 to 4 languages, tops, and even then just dependent on area (no one here's been hyperbolic so far--well, seriously hyperbolic at least).

It's really not a strain on resources to, say, have ATMs with a Spanish button, DMV info available in Spanish, and so on, because that's pretty cheap to do. It's more of a pain-in-the-ass to deal with misunderstandings that can come from complicated documents not available in other languages.

Thing is, even without any legal coercion, businesses and local government offices already respond to the need for multilingual services because they realize it's cost-effective. If it were unreasonable, they wouldn't do it. KF
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby woktiny » Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:10 pm UTC

English is the dominant language largely because so many English speakers moved in (and German lost the vote). When the land is full of Spanish speakers, maybe Spanish will become the dominant language. Yet neither official? I suggest a compromise: force everyone to use some third language, like Lojban, Esperanto, or Mandarin. That way, no one can complain until they learn the new language, and the people who do learn it will have done something significant, that perhaps they can complain about the people who have not. (because let's be honest, most, if not all, Americans who complain about non-English speakers didn't *try* to learn English, they grew up with it. Where's the bragging/complaining right there?)
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Belial » Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:16 pm UTC

eww. No constructed languages. Might as well declare goddamn Klingon the national language.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby bbctol » Tue Oct 30, 2007 9:54 pm UTC

Belial wrote:eww. No constructed languages. Might as well declare goddamn Klingon the national language.

For the record, while impractical, that would be awesome.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Xeio » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:00 pm UTC

bbctol wrote:
Belial wrote:eww. No constructed languages. Might as well declare goddamn Klingon the national language.

For the record, while impractical, that would be awesome.


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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Tue Oct 30, 2007 11:02 pm UTC

Does not change the fact that that would still be AWESOME.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby teucer » Wed Oct 31, 2007 6:03 am UTC

Eleyras wrote:
Rosa wrote:And English doesn't have a retroflex r. But the point that Sarah is an English name and not lexical item of Cherokee seems accurate. /l/ is their only phonemic liquid and is the closest I know of to the alveolar approximant used in English (IPA upside-down r). Apparently one dialect had the trilled /r/ assimilated from Spanish speakers, but not sure if that is something common today.

Depends on dialect, really, I know I use more of a retroflex r unless I'm singing in choir or speaking japanese, in which case it's an alveolar tap instead of an approximant.


It's normally an approximant, and some people pronounce it as retroflex and some as alveolar. When we covered this in phonetics class we also demonstrated that there was no way to tell from the sound alone which someone was making, so we were taught to always transcribe it as retroflex even though about one in four of us (myself included) don't say it that way ever.

...Actually if you transcribe how I pronounce it it looks funny even if you adopt that convention, because for whatever reason when it's before a vowel I pronounce my r as a labiodentalized alveolar approximant.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Moo » Wed Oct 31, 2007 7:00 am UTC

teucer wrote:... because for whatever reason when it's before a vowel I pronounce my r as a labiodentalized alveolar approximant.
That's what SHE said!
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby mrmanme » Wed Oct 31, 2007 1:21 pm UTC

It certainly makes sense to offer services in multiple languages, but only the common ones. In Canada, all Federal services have to give the option of either French or English. In many cases, because the Ontario/Quebec region uses both languages anyways, the rest of the country gets both. I used to think that the contests in Coke bottles meant I could instantly win a "ganger", whatever that was. However, other than English and French, if you want help in another language you're on your own. If you want something in German or Spanish, you've got to find someone bilingual and have them help you :S.

In Japan, where I currently am, it's not uncommon to see things in five languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English, and Russian. Interestingly, English is the least spoken of these languages in this area (VERY few gaijin), but is always put on to look professional. In this area, the Korean, Chinese, and Russian are provided to be helpful, out of no obligation. Try and get something in any other language and you will get an angry glare, like "Why would you even want to speak French?"
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Scilly_Guy » Wed Oct 31, 2007 2:22 pm UTC

Its a very good question! Why would you?
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Eleyras » Thu Nov 01, 2007 8:01 am UTC

teucer wrote:...Actually if you transcribe how I pronounce it it looks funny even if you adopt that convention, because for whatever reason when it's before a vowel I pronounce my r as a labiodentalized alveolar approximant.

...I am now going to waste time better spent on English homework attempting to do that.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Ari » Mon Nov 05, 2007 10:28 am UTC

mrmanme wrote:It certainly makes sense to offer services in multiple languages, but only the common ones. In Canada, all Federal services have to give the option of either French or English. In many cases, because the Ontario/Quebec region uses both languages anyways, the rest of the country gets both. I used to think that the contests in Coke bottles meant I could instantly win a "ganger", whatever that was. However, other than English and French, if you want help in another language you're on your own. If you want something in German or Spanish, you've got to find someone bilingual and have them help you :S.

In Japan, where I currently am, it's not uncommon to see things in five languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English, and Russian. Interestingly, English is the least spoken of these languages in this area (VERY few gaijin), but is always put on to look professional. In this area, the Korean, Chinese, and Russian are provided to be helpful, out of no obligation. Try and get something in any other language and you will get an angry glare, like "Why would you even want to speak French?"


Well, given they already provide them in five languages...

Things here aren't quite as thoughtful. We only recognise English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby Walrus » Wed Nov 07, 2007 3:50 pm UTC

Belial wrote:eww. No constructed languages. Might as well declare goddamn Klingon the national language.

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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby pollywog » Wed Nov 14, 2007 7:25 am UTC

Ari wrote:
mrmanme wrote:It certainly makes sense to offer services in multiple languages, but only the common ones. In Canada, all Federal services have to give the option of either French or English. In many cases, because the Ontario/Quebec region uses both languages anyways, the rest of the country gets both. I used to think that the contests in Coke bottles meant I could instantly win a "ganger", whatever that was. However, other than English and French, if you want help in another language you're on your own. If you want something in German or Spanish, you've got to find someone bilingual and have them help you :S.

In Japan, where I currently am, it's not uncommon to see things in five languages: Japanese, Korean, Chinese, English, and Russian. Interestingly, English is the least spoken of these languages in this area (VERY few gaijin), but is always put on to look professional. In this area, the Korean, Chinese, and Russian are provided to be helpful, out of no obligation. Try and get something in any other language and you will get an angry glare, like "Why would you even want to speak French?"


Well, given they already provide them in five languages...

Things here aren't quite as thoughtful. We only recognise English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language.


But a lot of important information is easily available in several other languages, Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Cook Island Maori, Chinese, Japanese, Korean. Quite a few of these languages are on official documents.
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Re: "National Language" Discussion

Postby scarletmanuka » Wed Nov 14, 2007 8:25 am UTC

Xeio wrote:Elven (LoTR) > Klingon

But then we'd have to fight about decide whether to use Quenya or Sindarin.
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