In a message dated Thu, 22 Mar 2001 4:08:24 PM Eastern Standard Time, "INGELBIEN RAPHAEL" <[log in to unmask]> writes:
<< TAK>> Now, what is wrong with reciting historical facts, and contending that they should be known? There can be no serious question that the expansionist and imperial tendencies of the English nation, as it grew to Great Britain, had terrible consequences for many people, and that this has been an important part of world history over the past 500 years (and regional history far longer.)>>
<Raphael>If you go through Nancy's posts again, you will note that she blamed the horrors of clearances on 'the English speaking', which is not always the same thing as the English. The English language wasn't simply imposed on Scotland by its nasty Southern neighbour, it was often quite deliberatley adopted by the Scottish aristocratic classes and used by them as a means of
oppressing their inferiors. Much has been made of the suppression of Celtic languages by barbaric practices like the use of the infamous Welsh knot in schools. What is less often noted is that Welsh parents often encouraged their kids to speak English rather than Welsh: this would raise their social and economic prospects. Ironically, the most outspoken defenders of Welsh have included some English Tories who obviously regarded Wales as a cultural theme park where creatures spoke a strange tongue. Similarly, Matthew
Arnold's advocacy of the Celtic languages doesn't mean that he was sympathetic to the political demands of Irish nationalists - not by a long chalk.>
Mostly agreed. I tried to specify the "English nation", as opposed to the "English people", because I'm trying to simply assess what happened, and avoid an atmosphere of recrimination. (Nations are a little harder to offend than peoples, I think.) The terminology is imprecise, however, I concede. Still, whatever Nancy's specific complaints, my comments regarding the English nation -- that entity that evolved into the governing heart of Great Britain -- are essentially accurate, with such accuracy as comments about "nations" may have. And England's behavior as a nation was simply a more successful execution of the same basic play attempted by most nations, when the opportunity for aggressively seeking self-interest presents itself.
Also, it is fair to ask why speaking English, rather than the native tongue, would advance one's social and economic prospects *in Wales*?
That said, I for one am very glad that my ancestors were compelled to surrender Gaelic for English . . . it has certainly improved my social and economic prospects in New York. But my happy results don't, in my view, justify (nor need they) the measures taken in the past against people in the West of Ireland who wanted to continue speaking their language. Just as I believe people coming to America today should learn English -- for their own good and for the good of the nation as whole -- but don't think, in doing so, they should be seen as betraying their ancestors or implicitly accepting acts of oppression against them.
<<TAK had said> One could certainly complain that this sort of discussion of historical grievences is inappropriate on the TSE list, or should be marked "OT>>
<Raphael>In this case, we may actually discuss Eliot's opinions on '''regional'''cultures in Britain. They're to be found in Notes towards the Definition of
Culture. Eliot was actually another example of how cultural conservatives can defend regional differences while stopping short of supporting nationalism. Perhaps Nancy can tell us what she makes of his none too high
opinion of Scottish nationalism. The thread can then be called 'Eliot v. MacDiarmid'.>>
Tom K responds . . .
Excellent connection. I'll look back at the essay. Eliot was not always a model of enlightenment when discussing peoples generally looked down upon by his peers, but almost never fails to have a more interesting opinion than the mere popular prejudice.