Written by Dyami Millarson
I have modified the “About me” section today which shows up under all of our posts. The “About me” was originally written many years ago and deserved thorough revision.
“Young” has been removed as an official descriptor of our team, since we do not want to limit our team to young people whilst this would exclude too many people.
I also removed “enthusiastic” as a descriptor since what we are doing is intense and truth be told, it is not always fun to complete the exercise routines required for linguistic “top athletics.” It is no secret that we strive to be the best in what we do, and this simply requires hard work; for if one wishes to be very good at something, one cannot escape the need of making a serious effort.
The previous text said “(critically) endangered languages,” but it was worth changing this to “indigenous languages,” since this already highlights the local value of these languages. The point being: what is local is worth preserving in a world that is globally interconnected. The fact that (many) indigenous languages are endangered is now implicitly suggested (implied) instead of explicitly stated.
I left “save, promote and study” as it has been for years. I considered changing “save” to another synonym such as “preserve” and “conserve,” but decided that was not a good idea since those words might sound as though we are only writing stuff down and will thus allow languages to be consigned to becoming museum objects. That is exactly what we do not want. Our programme is comprehensive: we are recording things as much as we can, so that we can use that information whenever we speak or write the languages. All in all, “save” seems a good fit in order to prevent misunderstandings of our aims; we wish to actively use the languages we acquire/record, i.e., we are keeping languages alive by active use.
I included the topic of linguistic, cultural and philosophical integration with indigenous communities in the “About me” section since integration with indigenous communities is an essential part of our work. We work hard in order to earn the status of membership in every community; so we seek to meet (implicit and explicit) linguistic, cultural and philosophical requirements for being accepted as a member of the indigenous community. Consequently, we do conform to the norms set out by the community and we seek to (re)present those indigenous norms to the outside world.
As long as people use languages, those languages are not extinct. It deserves mentioning here that all humans existing today have in common that they were once born, but nobody is born a native speaker of any language; becoming a native speaker evidently happens after birth, and fluency is what the status of being a native speaker depends on. Fluency is key for the survival of languages and this fluency is attainable for anyone who makes an effort. Since we are all humans and we all become native speakers of languages through language acquisition, we can all become native speakers in any language through language acquisition. To put it more clearly, being a native speaker is a “learned ability,” not a biological reality. So, whether one is native or not in a language does not depend on biology, but it depends on whether one confirms to learned norms, and so “being native” may be called a social construct, i.e., a native is what a community agrees it is and if you do not conform to what is agreed upon by the community, you are not a native. That is why we seek to learn things properly from the community in order not to stand out in a way that would make us non-native; one can have individual peculiarities, and so when one respects the norms (implicitly and explicitly) laid out by a community, there is enough freedom for being oneself, as it is a system of give and take.
I included the topic of official recognition. Our organisation has the legal autonomy to recognise what languages are official in the organisation. Languages officially recognised by Foundation Operation X for languages, cultures and perspectives are official languages of the organisation; what this means is that these languages may be used by and in Foundation Operation X and their active use is protected by and in Foundation Operation X.
Operation X has the right to issue its own legally binding laws/rules and regulations in the form of contracts (Dutch: overeenkomsten). Laws and regulations in this contractual form should legally be understood as obligations which legally bind involved parties to act or not to act in a certain way. The Operation X laws and regulations determine that languages are officially recognised; namely the official recognition of languages is regulated in internal Operation X institutional decrees which are issued as contracts signed by the official board members of Operation X or may simply come into force by (verbal announcements based on) verbal agreements between board members. The legal validity of the Operation X institutional decrees is determined by the Dutch law of obligations (verbintenissenrecht). The hierarchical difference between an Operation X law and regulation is that the former is a rule, while the latter is a standard (usually based on a rule); one may see it as a command vs. strong recommendation, the difference is very slight. Practically, Operation X regulations/standards have the same legal force as Operation X laws/rules and are issued in the same ways as Operation X laws; in a hierchical fashion, Operation X regulations are practically footnotes or add-ons to Operation X laws.
I added the disclaimer “but not limited to” between brackets in order to prevent misunderstandings about the nature of the list of languages which is located at the end of the “About me” text: the languages mentioned at the end of the “About me” section are not all the languages officially recognised by Foundation Operation X.
This is what the “About me” text looks like as of 17 November 2022: Operation X is a team of innovative language learners who wish to save, promote and study indigenous languages, integrate culturally and linguistically and philosophically with the respective language communities and earn community membership through hard work aimed at adopting and respecting the existing linguistic, cultural and philosophical norms of each community, and finally make each language thus acquired one of the official languages of the non-profit “Foundation Operation X for languages, cultures and perspectives.” The languages that our non-profit Foundation officially recognises include (but are not limited to) Klaaifrysk, Wâldfrysk, Aasters, Westers, Eilaunders, Hielepes, Mòlkòrres, Seeltersk, Wangerōgersc, Harlingerland Frisian, Wursten Frisian, Upgant Frisian, Hâtstinge frêsh, Brêkleme frêsh, Trölstruper Freesch, Hoolmer Freesch, Hoorninger Fräisch, Bêrgeme frêsh, Halifreesk, Ingsbüllinge frėsh, Risemer Frasch, Naischöspeler Freesk, Hoorblinger Freesk, Halunder, Amring, Aasdring, Weesdring, Söl’ring, Hogelandster Grunnegers, Oostfreesk, and övdalsk.
It’s comforting to realize that the study of biology is not an immutable concept when it comes to acquisition of language.
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Excluding people on the basis of age is certainly not the image we want to project! “Young” was, in hindsight, an ill-chosen descriptor; it felt good to drop it, because the message we actually want to convey is that people of any age can contribute to the transmission of indigenous languages, cultures and philosophies.