Monday, October 20, 2014

Disclaimer; or Analytic Philosophy, the English Language, and I

Since I am writing a series of posts about doing philosophy in English as a non-native English speaker (all posts in this series will be reachable by clicking on the category "EFL philosophers" at the bottom of this post) and since misinterpretation is rampant on the internet, I would like to clarify the following points in a (quite likely hopeless) attempt to avoid any misunderstandings/misinterpretations/misreadings:
  1. I love English. It's probably my favourite language and I think that, for a number of reasons, it's a particularly effective language to use as the lingua franca of philosophy---I do not advocate for replacing English with another lingua franca (Esperanto or Latin :-) ).
  2. At this point in my life, I would probably find it harder to write about philosophy in Italian (my native language) than to write in English. So, I'd pick English over Italian any day (but please don't tell my MAMMA! :-P )
  3. I am particularly privileged in that my parents could afford to pay for private English lessons for me from a relatively early age (I think I was 8 when I started) and had the foresight to do so. So, because of my class, I am in a much better position than many other non-native speakers, who only learned English in school or started when they were older than I was. I count myself lucky for that but not all EFL philosophers have had my luck.
  4. I feel I have had my share of success in terms of publishing and I do not feel that, personally, I have been affected in a particularly negative way by my not being a native English speaker, but I think this is not because I am smarter than other EFL philosophers---it's likely the result of my privilege (see point 3). The reason I am writing these posts is that I feel that the playing field is not level and that this has all sort of negative repercussions on EFL philosophers in particular but also on the field in general and that we should have a frank conversation about ways in which we can change things.
  5. The notion of first or native language is somewhat vague. This is how it is defined in the Wikipedia entry on First Languege: "A first language (also native language, mother tongue, arterial language, or L1) is the language(s) a person has learned from birth or within the critical period [...]". The critical time period is hypothesized to be a range of ages after which language learners typically do not achieve first-language level of language acquisition.
  6. ...
[I'll keep adding to this list as the potential misunderstandings pile up! :-) ]

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