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Old 03-12-2014, 06:37 PM
Shroombie Shroombie is offline

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Default Languages and stuff.

Thread to talk about languages and stuff. Just like the title says. Eagan, I await your reply.
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:39 PM
Noitora Noitora is offline

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Languages are stupid.
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Old 03-12-2014, 06:55 PM
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In the future we will all speak Esperanto!
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:01 PM
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The more the merrier, the more variety the better.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:01 PM
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In the future we will all speak Esperanto!
They said over 200 years ago.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:12 PM
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>Hates the homogenization of languages, thinks they should be unique.
>Works hard to learn another dialect, prefers it to his mothertongue.
I do not "prefer it". It is merely necessary to raise one's accent in line with one's status. It is an aspirational desire, so-to-speak. Haven't you ever seen My Fair Lady? Regardless, I'd rather have an old-fashioned upper class Scottish received pronunciation that carries both dignity, and the ability to be understood, rather than Scots. I purposely avoided a modern RP, as it sounds quite disgusting.

Better people than me can retain such an accent and be taken seriously.

I am not contributing to the death of my native dialect. I'm revitalising a different one! In a way, I am fighting homogenisation!
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:16 PM
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They should be sacrificed, for the greater good.

Oh wait, that would mean that the angles win. Nope, not gonna allow that.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:18 PM
Eagan Eagan is offline

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They should be sacrificed, for the greater good.

Oh wait, that would mean that the angles win. Nope, not gonna allow that.
Quite right! Actually, as a matter of fact, I am curious as to what non-native speakers of English here think about communicating in English in a forum such as this. Is it annoying that one cannot use one's native language, or perhaps, is it actually liberating, in that one has access to many more places than one would otherwise have?

Especially in countries where knowledge of English is quite high, as in Scandinavia, I do wonder what it feels like. It would annoy me, I think, to feel that my own language was subordinate to another.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:18 PM
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I do not "prefer it". It is merely necessary to raise one's accent in line with one's status. It is an aspirational desire, so-to-speak. Haven't you ever seen My Fair Lady? Regardless, I'd rather have an old-fashioned upper class Scottish received pronunciation that carries both dignity, and the ability to be understood, rather than Scots. I purposely avoided a modern RP, as it sounds quite disgusting.

Better people than me can retain such an accent and be taken seriously.

I am not contributing to the death of my native dialect. I'm revitalising a different one! In a way, I am fighting homogenisation!
Anybody that assigns value to someone based on their accent isn't someone I'd take seriously, at least here in the US. Is the way you speak really so important in the UK? I have a hard time believing a Scottish accent would really prevent you from succeeding.

But still, my point stands. You switched from one dialect to another, based on the status it brought you. The internet just gives increased status to English, making it a more attractive choice for non-native speakers, just like RP was a more attractive choice for you.

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Quite right! Actually, as a matter of fact, I am curious as to what non-native speakers of English here think about communicating in English in a forum such as this. Is it annoying that one cannot use one's native language, or perhaps, is it actually liberating, in that one has access to many more places than one would otherwise have?

Especially in countries where knowledge of English is quite high, as in Scandinavia, I do wonder what it feels like. It would annoy me, I think, to feel that my own language was subordinate to another.
Having spoken with a few exchange students about this (Mostly German, with one Croatian), my understanding is that speaking English well is a valued skill. Just about all the mass-media of the world is in or available in English, making it incredibly easy to learn. A lot of the youth especially enjoy English and American culture, bragging about how they went to America and spent a year there.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:24 PM
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Quite right! Actually, as a matter of fact, I am curious as to what non-native speakers of English here think about communicating in English in a forum such as this. Is it annoying that one cannot use one's native language, or perhaps, is it actually liberating, in that one has access to many more places than one would otherwise have?

Especially in countries where knowledge of English is quite high, as in Scandinavia, I do wonder what it feels like. It would annoy me, I think, to feel that my own language was subordinate to another.
To be honest, I prefer it. It has quite a few perks, like being able to use the fact that it's not your native language as an excuse whenever you commit errors.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:27 PM
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I speak language! You people should all speak language too!
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:29 PM
Blayze Blayze is offline

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Over here, it's almost all about classism. There's the upper class, the middle class, the working class and the unemployable--divided into different groups such as chavs--and every group hates every other group.

There's also a North-South divide as well, and rivalries between different towns for no good reason than it happened once during the War of the Roses.

Then there's the sentiment where the English are hated by the Irish and Scottish and mock them in return, and nobody cares about Wales.

So yes, how you speak is important--it's what gets you put in a particular social box.
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Old 03-12-2014, 07:30 PM
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Anybody that assigns value to someone based on their accent isn't someone I'd take seriously, at least here in the US. Is the way you speak really so important in the UK? I have a hard time believing a Scottish accent would really prevent you from succeeding.

But still, my point stands. You switched from one dialect to another, based on the status it brought you. The internet just gives increased status to English, making it a more attractive choice for non-native speakers, just like RP was a more attractive choice for you.
People have unconscious perceptions of accents, and the way people speak. They cannot help it, one way or the other. It is not so much a Scottish accent, which maintains English vocabulary and grammar, largely, as the "Scots language". The vocabulary is entirely different.

It isn't really a matter of "succeeding", but more of "being perceived as one would prefer to be perceived". Or perhaps, "not being tired to an identity that doesn't fit one's personality".

Broad Scots is perhaps on total decline too, though it really depends on the social class that one is in. Scots like to think of themselves as classless, but really, Scotland has always been an incredibly stratified society, and remains so. Since the late 18th century or so, upper class Scots haven't spoken Scots, but more their own version of RP. This is changing now, but is still often the case. In fact, upper class Scots are often viewed by most people as not even "Scottish" because their affectations are not in line with the nationalist constructed "Scottish highland kitsch" identity.

Regardless, my own personal reasons for switching dialects has nothing to do with my principles on the subject of language. English is not so much "more attractive to non-native speakers", as NECESSARY for success for many people, inevitably leading to the decline of their native language. In fact, that's exactly why Scots is not a written language anymore. The dominance of English knocked it out the literary spectrum.

People can choose to learn English, and that's fine. They can prefer it, just as I prefer a certain dialect. That doesn't mean they should be FORCED to do so.

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Old 03-13-2014, 04:18 PM
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English is not so much "more attractive to non-native speakers", as NECESSARY for success for many people, inevitably leading to the decline of their native language. In fact, that's exactly why Scots is not a written language anymore. The dominance of English knocked it out the literary spectrum.

People can choose to learn English, and that's fine. They can prefer it, just as I prefer a certain dialect. That doesn't mean they should be FORCED to do so.
You are not describing a historically new phenomenon. It's not exclusive to English. The only difference is that the hegemony of the English language has risen during the rise of mass communication and globalization. Yet when we look through history, we see the rise and fall of languages in tandem with the rise and fall of empires, mass migrations, and colonization.

My own focus of studies is biblical studies, so most of my historically contextualization is in West Asia. Looking back, we can see the connection of empire and language.

If you wanted to be successful back in the day you had to know Sumerian, but then Sumerian gradually died in the face of a rising Assyrian Empire, so you had to know Akkadian, though Old Egyptian was also useful depending upon your sphere of influence. Yet knowing Akkadian was supplanted by Imperial Aramaic when Cyrus the Great conquered the Babylonian Empire, and the Persians imposed their non-native Aramaic language as the imperial language. While Judean literature would continue to be written in Hebrew, we also see a simultaneous rise of Aramaic literature coming from Yehud (e.g. large portions of the Book of Daniel and Ezra). The biblical scriptures even mention how the Hebrew scriptures had to be translated to Aramaic-speaking Judeans. Of course, then that whole Alexandrian conquest happened, which resulted in a BOOM of Judean literature written in Greek, including the Septuagint and, arguably, the New Testament. By this point, Hebrew was practically dead as a spoken language. Coptic was still around in Egypt, but it was in gradual decline. The final nail in the coffin was the rise of Islam, which resulted in the hegemonic spread of Arabic across North Africa and West Asia. It was so bad for the poor Hebrew language that the Masoretic scribes basically had to invent a vowel pointing system to the written language* just so that Jews would know how to properly pronounce (in their interpretation) the Hebrew scriptures.

* Hebrew, like most Semitic languages, focuses on consonantal roots, with the written language being an abjad system (consonants and pseudo-vowels) as opposed to a true alphabet (vowels were introduced by the Greeks who appropriated the Phoenician/Canaanite script).

While mass communications are shaping the development of global languages, it does not spell any ultimate homogenization or grand singularity of language. English holds the place now, but it would be arrogant and premature to suggest that English will somehow always hold this premiere spot. Hindi, Spanish, Chinese, or some other language may very well become the new mass imperial language of global communication. Yet even then, there will always be tremendous local variation. Just as populations lead to differences of genetic mutations and traits within the same species, so too do populations lead to differences in linguistic traits and variants within the same language.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:38 PM
Eagan Eagan is offline

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You are not describing a historically new phenomenon. It's not exclusive to English. The only difference is that the hegemony of the English language has risen during the rise of mass communication and globalization. Yet when we look through history, we see the rise and fall of languages in tandem with the rise and fall of empires, mass migrations, and colonization.

My own focus of studies is biblical studies, so most of my historically contextualization is in West Asia. Looking back, we can see the connection of empire and language.

If you wanted to be successful back in the day you had to know Sumerian, but then Sumerian gradually died in the face of a rising Assyrian Empire, so you had to know Akkadian, though Old Egyptian was also useful depending upon your sphere of influence. Yet knowing Akkadian was supplanted by Imperial Aramaic when Cyrus the Great conquered the Babylonian Empire, and the Persians imposed their non-native Aramaic language as the imperial language. While Judean literature would continue to be written in Hebrew, we also see a simultaneous rise of Aramaic literature coming from Yehud (e.g. large portions of the Book of Daniel and Ezra). The biblical scriptures even mention how the Hebrew scriptures had to be translated to Aramaic-speaking Judeans. Of course, then that whole Alexandrian conquest happened, which resulted in a BOOM of Judean literature written in Greek, including the Septuagint and, arguably, the New Testament. By this point, Hebrew was practically dead as a spoken language. Coptic was still around in Egypt, but it was in gradual decline. The final nail in the coffin was the rise of Islam, which resulted in the hegemonic spread of Arabic across North Africa and West Asia. It was so bad for the poor Hebrew language that the Masoretic scribes basically had to invent a vowel pointing system to the written language* just so that Jews would know how to properly pronounce (in their interpretation) the Hebrew scriptures.

* Hebrew, like most Semitic languages, focuses on consonantal roots, with the written language being an abjad system (consonants and pseudo-vowels) as opposed to a true alphabet (vowels were introduced by the Greeks who appropriated the Phoenician/Canaanite script).

While mass communications are shaping the development of global languages, it does not spell any ultimate homogenization or grand singularity of language. English holds the place now, but it would be arrogant and premature to suggest that English will somehow always hold this premiere spot. Hindi, Spanish, Chinese, or some other language may very well become the new mass imperial language of global communication. Yet even then, there will always be tremendous local variation. Just as populations lead to differences of genetic mutations and traits within the same species, so too do populations lead to differences in linguistic traits and variants within the same language.
Firstly, I do not doubt that there have always been prestige dialects/languages. I know that. The difference is, many more people now need to know prestige language (Whatever that may be. I'm not just referring to English.) to succeed. The majority of us are no longer peasants with little need for such language. Competing in a globalised job market, people that in centuries past would've been able to get by speaking their own language, in their own communities/cultures, now have no chance of doing so.

If they want employment, because of the decline of the value of subsistence farming and traditional trades, they must seek jobs elsewhere. For many, this means industrial jobs in cities, resulting in the destruction of rural cultures. Such a process has been ongoing since the 19th century in the developed world. More importantly, though, with the decline of traditional industrial jobs, and the rise of white collar work, language skills have become critical. Inevitably, this leads to an even broader mass extinction of accents, languages and dialects since the mid 20th century. This has also been supplemented by media globalisation, which has artificially centralised which accents/dialects/languages people are exposed to, influencing how they themselves speak.

Overall, this spells tragedy for language diversity, and linguists are keenly aware of it.

As a random point, though, I'd just say that Mandarin would never become a lingua franca unless it replaced Chinese characters with something easier to learn (from a second language perspective). This would be a tragedy in of itself, as Chinese characters, in their traditional forms, are some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and laden with meaning.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:45 PM
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Firstly, I do not doubt that there have always been prestige dialects/languages. I know that. The difference is, many more people now need to know prestige language (Whatever that may be. I'm not just referring to English.) to succeed. The majority of us are no longer peasants with little need for such language. Competing in a globalised job market, people that in centuries past would've been able to get by speaking their own language, in their own communities/cultures, now have no chance of doing so.

If they want employment, because of the decline of the value of subsistence farming and traditional trades, they must seek jobs elsewhere. For many, this means industrial jobs in cities, resulting in the destruction of rural cultures. Such a process has been ongoing since the 19th century in the developed world. More importantly, though, with the decline of traditional industrial jobs, and the rise of white collar work, language skills have become critical. Inevitably, this leads to an even broader mass extinction of accents, languages and dialects since the mid 20th century. This has also been supplemented by media globalisation, which has artificially centralised which accents/dialects/languages people are exposed to, influencing how they themselves speak.

Overall, this spells tragedy for language diversity, and linguists are keenly aware of it.

As a random point, though, I'd just say that Mandarin would never become a lingua franca unless it replaced Chinese characters with something easier to learn (from a second language perspective). This would be a tragedy in of itself, as Chinese characters, in their traditional forms, are some of the most beautiful things I've ever seen, and laden with meaning.
If you are aware of the evolution of language, then why are being so damn conservative about preserving defunct and useless languages? Sure it's helpful to have someone speak and read them for the sake of past documents, but preserving languages seems about as useful as preserving beliefs and institutions that no one actually believes in. Perhaps it's because you work as an archivist that you would treat these languages as something that should somehow be artificially preserved, as if language was something that could be maintained in some pristine or "pure" form, as opposed to something that organically flourishes or perishes over time.
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Old 03-13-2014, 04:53 PM
Eagan Eagan is offline

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If you are aware of the evolution of language, then why are being so damn conservative about preserving defunct and useless languages? Sure it's helpful to have someone speak and read them for the sake of past documents, but preserving languages seems about as useful as preserving beliefs and institutions that no one actually believes in. Perhaps it's because you work as an archivist that you would treat these languages as something that should somehow be artificially preserved, as if language was something that could be maintained in some pristine or "pure" form, as opposed to something that organically flourishes or perishes over time.
I adore "organic flourishes". However, the present mass extinction is not organic. It is determined by technology and globalisation, and entirely artificial. It is determined by systemic bias. It is harder to type right-to-left in vertical script on computers, because the developers of said technologies were primarily focused on left-to-right horizontal script, and hence this has led to the decline (in some places more grave than others) of vertical right-to-left script in Japan, the RoC, Hong Kong and Korea (PRC Maoists completed the dirty deed on their own in the 50s). This is unacceptable, is it not? That a cultural tradition is destroyed only because of the limitations created by Western-made technology?

The organic nature of language, as it has evolved for thousands of years, is now detached from the present evolution, which is forced and exceedingly rapid. It is like feeding a chicken growth hormone.

I don't want to live in a world devoid of cultures and languages. Sure, cultures came and went. But there was always a plurality of cultures to fill in the gap. Language was a key marker of identity. This plurality is shrinking, as cultures are being deemed irreconcilable with internationalised "western" standards, which also harms diversity within the west itself.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:03 PM
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I adore "organic flourishes". However, the present mass extinction is not organic. It is determined by technology and globalisation, and entirely artificial. It is determined by systemic bias. It is harder to type right-to-left in vertical script on computers, because the developers of said technologies were primarily focused on left-to-right horizontal script, and hence this has led to the decline (in some places more grave than others) of vertical right-to-left script in Japan, the RoC, Hong Kong and Korea (PRC Maoists completed the dirty deed on their own in the 50s). This is unacceptable, is it not? That a cultural tradition is destroyed only because of the limitations created by Western-made technology?

The organic nature of language, as it has evolved for thousands of years, is now detached from the present evolution, which is forced and exceedingly rapid. It is like feeding a chicken growth hormone.

I don't want to live in a world devoid of cultures and languages. Sure, cultures came and went. But there was always a plurality of cultures to fill in the gap. Language was a key marker of identity. This plurality is shrinking, as cultures are being deemed irreconcilable with internationalised "western" standards, which also harms diversity within the west itself.
I dunno I think I like where we're going. I really like the communication revolution created by the mass media.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:09 PM
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I adore "organic flourishes". However, the present mass extinction is not organic. It is determined by technology and globalisation, and entirely artificial. It is determined by systemic bias. It is harder to type right-to-left in vertical script on computers, because the developers of said technologies were primarily focused on left-to-right horizontal script, and hence this has led to the decline (in some places more grave than others) of vertical right-to-left script in Japan, the RoC, Hong Kong and Korea (PRC Maoists completed the dirty deed on their own in the 50s). This is unacceptable, is it not? That a cultural tradition is destroyed only because of the limitations created by Western-made technology?

The organic nature of language, as it has evolved for thousands of years, is now detached from the present evolution, which is forced and exceedingly rapid. It is like feeding a chicken growth hormone.

I don't want to live in a world devoid of cultures and languages. Sure, cultures came and went. But there was always a plurality of cultures to fill in the gap. Language was a key marker of identity. This plurality is shrinking, as cultures are being deemed irreconcilable with internationalised "western" standards, which also harms diversity within the west itself.
If the evolution of human language is due to human actions, then it's an organic change.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:11 PM
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If the evolution of human language is due to human actions, then it's an organic change.
It is artificial, in the same way feeding a chicken growth hormone artificial. It bypasses the natural process, and instead replaces it with a rapid and unhealthy development that would've usually taken a good period of time.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:12 PM
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It is artificial, in the same way feeding a chicken growth hormone artificial. It bypasses the natural process, and instead replaces it with a rapid and unhealthy development that would've usually taken a good period of time.
But the fact of the matter is that language is a human concept, and it is something that is perfectly normal to shift due to our actions. This isn't like some other parts of the environment, for example, that are changed in ways that were never foreseen. This is a human-made evolution of a distinctly human thing.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:18 PM
Eagan Eagan is offline

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But the fact of the matter is that language is a human concept, and it is something that is perfectly normal to shift due to our actions. This isn't like some other parts of the environment, for example, that are changed in ways that were never foreseen. This is a human-made evolution of a distinctly human thing.
Are you sure that language does not surpass humanity? The signs and symbols of our language are constructed through operations of differance. We shape the meaning of our words, but we cannot control the endless things that they can potentially signify…
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:24 PM
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Are you sure that language does not surpass humanity? The signs and symbols of our language are constructed through operations of differance. We shape the meaning of our words, but we cannot control the endless things that they can potentially signify…
We can though. By the very fact that we are the ones that influence our language, any human driven developments of language must be organic.
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Old 03-13-2014, 06:29 PM
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We can though. By the very fact that we are the ones that influence our language, any human driven developments of language must be organic.
Now, I don't necessarily agree with this statement, as you can imagine. But let's put that argument aside, for a moment.

Given that, as you say, one can "influence one's language", and that "any human driven development" must be organic, then should we not cultivate and protect language diversity? If we have developed such diversity to begin with, should we not try and do a bit of gardening, so that we don't only grow potatoes? A varied diet is a healthy one, is it not?
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Old 03-14-2014, 08:33 PM
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Isn't preserving languages artificial though? Using your metaphor of a garden, keeping languages stale would be like growing cacti in Alaska. It's possible, but it's certainly not natural, and you're gonna have a hell of a time doing. It's not preserving
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