Every once in awhile, I enjoy writing a column in which I interact with history. Join me as we look at a few events that occurred on this day, June 23. These events are chosen from a list found at wikipedia.org. To read my comments, however, you need either (1) a copy of the Kokomo Tribune or (2) an online connection to www.kokomotribune.com!
Journey back with me more than seven centuries to June 23, 1305. On this day, the French signed a peace treaty with the Flemish. The Flemish language is often called “Belgian Dutch,” a major language in the small nation of Belgium. What is interesting about this language is that it most resembles the language from which English hails: Anglo-Saxon. At least, that is a contending opinion.
According to proto-english.org, “Officially, the closest language to (official) English is (official) Dutch. General Dutch is a compromise language between several distinct dialects. It is a recent standard (17th century). Fries is a part of the Dutch language group, but considered a separate language. The Frisian language is announced to be the closest language to English. There is however another candidate to that: West Flemish.”
The article proceeds to make its case. Whether Frisian or Flemish, Anglo-Saxon emerged from a Dutch-like forerunner.
English is truly a mutt language. Much of our vocabulary comes not only from Anglo-Saxon, but earlier Celtic languages mixed with later Viking (Old Norse, making our sentences depend upon word order) and French (from Normandy) languages. When all is said and done, we have a language with massive vocabulary and nuances of meaning because we may have a Celtic word for something, an Anglo-Saxon word, a French (Latin) word, and perhaps even a Viking term. The world’s leading language is no purebred!
On this day in 1713, the French residents of Nova Scotia were forced to declare their allegiance to Britain or evacuate. Because of its significant French population, Canada recognizes both English and French as its official languages, as you may know. Meanwhile, we in the United States are slowly moving toward embracing Spanish — if not officially, then unofficially. More and more Americans are learning a second language — if not fluently, than at least somewhat. In my opinion, few things make one more open-minded than learning a second language (of any kind). When you learn a language, you don’t just learn vocabulary, you learn a different system of thinking.
In 1868 on this day, Christopher Latham Sholes patented the typewriter. Although few use typewriters anymore, we may fail to realize how monumental this invention was. For one thing, it meant an entire trade was wiped out. We no longer needed scribes who could neatly and professionally write or copy documents. Poor Bob Cratchit! When pared with carbon paper (which had been invented earlier), a typist could make a duplicate copy of that document.
On this day in 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson met with Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin in Glassboro, N.J., for a summit. Younger adults who do not remember the Cold War have no idea how “chilling” the Cold War was; many Americans wondered if their children would live to adulthood. This overriding fear contributed to the hippie movement, with some choosing a surrender to communism as the best solution.
According to Wikipedia, “Mass killings occurred under some Communist regimes during the twentieth century with an estimated death toll numbering between 85 and 100 million.” Conflict that had once raged in Korea and divided that nation were raging within Vietnam in 1967. It looked as though even Italy would turn communist.
When I was quite young, I remember neighbors showing off their atomic-bomb-proof shelter; with the proliferation of hydrogen bombs, such shelters became irrelevant. The world changed for the better when communism failed and fell. Sadly, it wasn’t long until Islamic extremism created a new threat with new worries. Life went on, and so it does to the present.
I hope you enjoy today, June 23, 2013! What a great day for nothing monumental to occur!