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Are Some Languages Better than Others?$
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R. M. W. Dixon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766810

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766810.001.0001

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Better for what purpose?

Better for what purpose?

(p.193) Chapter 9 Better for what purpose?
Are Some Languages Better than Others?

R. M. W. Dixon

Oxford University Press

What is considered ‘better’ will depend on the interests and attitude of the person making the judgement. A speaker may lazily slur, which will not please a listener who wishes to achieve full understanding. The most useful names and titles are those which are maximally informative. It is easier to learn—and to teach—a language whose words are easily segmentable into bits of meaning. A number of L2 speakers of English were asked what they missed from their native language—for example, emotive adjectives in Greek, and case endings in Amharic which free the ordering of words for pragmatic effect. Finally, we enquire what the consequences may be for a language to be judged as ‘better’ in a certain way.

Keywords:   identification, language learning, language teaching, emotive words, language change

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