This is one of the 2 main questions I presented at the Open Knowledge 1.0 last Saturday in Limehouse Townhall in London.
The first question deals with the possibility to share and might add some flavour to the discussion about the concept of ‘open’, as in ‘open knowledge’ or ‘open source’.
As a human being and writer – both bodies are intimately related – I naturally tend to favour the principles of sharing, exchange, generating, regenerating and degenerating (:-)). I like to adhere to the idea of ‘open’ culture as it stated in the Free Art License based on the GPL.
All very well, but as an author I am confronted straight away with the limitations of this freedom. What’s more, the open culture seems to be only half open or half closed, unless the notion of ‘open’ also allows for in-between situations.
I’ll make this somewhat clearer for you. I live in Brussels. Officially, it is a bilingual city, unofficially the city is multilingual. As a Dutch-speaking person I often find myself in murky in-between situations.
In my context ‘open’ often has to do with the degree of accessibility of a language. Many of the texts I produce remain inaccessible – closed – to my neighbours and some of my friends, unless I spend a considerable amount of time and money on adequate translations. Sometimes I decide to use the predominant language straight away, which is French in Brussels and English on the net. Very soon it might be Chinese, but that’s another issue.
On the blog of adashboard for example I a number of Article wrote in English, because I thought that my ideas got with that a larger range – and more openness -, assuming that Nederlandstaligen read nevertheless English. Already free rapidly there a response that came I English the destroy. And that my ideas clarity do not have which they deserve. Tja, if I am possible rondstrooien in Dutch my words as fine sand, then I throw in English or in French with keien. I can do still this way my best, I the language will master never as fijntjes and purely as native speaker.
This was weird. That is because I just read the systran-translation of the following text to you:
In the adashboard blog for instance I wrote a number of articles in English, because I thought that as such my ideas would gain a larger readership and thus be confronted with more openness. I assumed that my English would effortlessly establish communication with Dutch natives. Fairly promptly I received a reaction that stated that I was desecrating, murdering the English language. And that my ideas deserved a more nuanced language. Both of them have a serious point. Where I can scatter around Dutch words as fine sand, I am throwing with stones in English or French. How eagerly I try, I’ll never be able to manage a language with the same subtlety as a native speaker.
This situation of working in a minority language is frustrating, but it is also an opportunity to invest in the inbetween space of the bastard language as a space of glorious language games, colourful images and surprising richness and diversity.
When I write it in my own Dutchy English (which is an extended creative version of the Globish or Decaf English), spiced up with images and expressions that I translate directly from my native language, it would give something like this:
On the adashboard blog for example, I decided to write some posts in English. By doing so my ideas would have a larger audience, would thus be more open, and might be able to move more pens, supposing that most of the native Dutch-speakers read English. Very soon I was pointed at with the finger, saying that I was destroying the English language. Someone else told me that by doing so my ideas did not have the clarity they deserved. They are truly right. Where I can scatter around Dutch words as fine sand, I am throwing with stones in English or French. Whatever I try, it is like buttering the gallows. My living context is not a native-English-speaking one, so I’ll never even get close to the refinement, speed and correctness of native English-speakers.
This version might have exude something exotic, strange or alien to you. If English as a dominant language can trigger this kind of exterior behaviour, and feeds itself with it, encourages it, the word ‘open’ will be a little bit more ‘open’. Paying attention to the in-between spaces and uses can offer new insights and perspectives and can stimulate empathy. Talking about it makes us more conscious of the way we use words and the views, contexts, convictions that words carry within.