Isn't using English compulsory on the international Usenet news?
Questions from Usenet and Timo's answers
This issue arises from time to time on the Usenet newsgroups. No,
English is not dictated by the netiquette as the compulsory language
on the Usenet news. The choice is yours. However, English is the
rational choice on Usenet news since it is the prevalent, common
language on the Usenet news. Vai olisiko parempi, että
esimerkiksi minä kirjoittaisin lukuisat FAQ postitukseni
Thus, for the sake of communication it is sensible to opt for
English on the international newsgroups and restrict the usage of
the other languages to the more local newsgroups.
In some special cases the charter of the newsgroup might have a
ruling about the preferred language. In the case of the domestic
newsgroups it makes sense to go by the hierarchy. For example in the
sfnet newsgroups one would primarily expect postings in Finnish.
Of course the primacy of the English language also relates to the
difficult questions of potential cultural dominance. A full
discussion of this complicated can of worms is beyond this simple
FAQ. But a couple of words. The dominant weight of the huge U.S.
market on the net and in computer systems clearly leads to some
unhealthy phenomena. One operating system monopolizes the market
with all the repercussions. Furthermore, although fortunately
decreasingly common, there are a few North Americans who seem unable
to grasp that on the Usenet news they appear on an
international net, not on their domestic scene. More or less
inadvertent xenophobia is sometimes clearly in evidence (like "...
this is the United States, after all ...").
This cultural presumption problem sometimes appears in quite subtle
forms as e.g. in the international alt.accounting newsgroup where
many of the writers implicitly take U.S. legislation and U.S.
conventions for granted.
Excuseme very poor english.
Not everyone on the net is a native English speaker or otherwise
fluent in English. (In fact, there are even many native English
speakers on the net whose language and writing skills leave an awful
lot to be desired). The native English speakers should be tolerant
and not always expect good language skills from everyone. Since
English dominates, the native speakers should pay the reciprocal
courtesy of not heaping all the problems of having a common language
on us foreigners.
If you are a beginner in English, you should, however, bear in mind
a few things:
- Do not use your poor English as an excuse for incoherent
rambling. (If you do not understand what the last words mean,
look them up in a dictionary.)
- If you wish to ask for help about some problem, take some time
to think analytically what your problem is. If your English
indeed is very bad, do not start writing your English
message before you have carefully outlined what it is that you
wish to say or ask. First write a good explanation in your own
language, then translate that into English.
- Computers are such flexible tools. Utilize them. Use a
- Don't worry. In time your skills will improve. I can guarantee
that from my own experience.
Computers and in particular Usenet practices have brought along much
jargon and acronyms which can be incomprehensible even to an
uninitiated native English speaker. There is an endless procession
of neologisms such as BTW, IIRC, IMHO, ROTFL, RTFM, TIA and
technical terms such as FTP, HTTP, HTML, WWW, URL, and so on and on.
There are some links to dictionaries and jargon files at the end of
this page which may be of help in the deciphering dilemma.
The jargon often is convenient, no doubt, but please do not overdo
your jargon usage. Too much jargon can make an impression of showing
off and Usenet snobbism. Too much jargon will also render a message
difficult to read, which is exactly the opposite what a judicious
use of jargon strives at.
Write in plain, civilized English. Don't use cute abbreviations such
as "U know" or "ur message". Besides that they make the reading more
difficult and may confuse some non-english readers they give a very
pedestrian flavor to the message. Using such language usually loses
much of the effect of message's factual contents. Likewise, do not
repeatedly misspell words deliberately. Such an abrasive habit
assumed by some users is quite annoying.
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