Faversham Stoa is a pub philosophy discussion group. We meet the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 to 9.30pm in the The Bull in Tanners Street. There's no charge for membership and everyone is welcome to drop in. Just bring your brain and some beer money!

Next Meeting – “Minority languages: should we let them die?”

Tuesday 15 April 7.30 — 9.30pm, at the Bull

In the biblical myth of the Tower of Babel, mankind is punished by liguistic diversity. On the other hand in the story of Pentecost, in the book of Acts, where everyone is able to understand the Apostles, universal understanding is seen as a blessing. The idea that we would be better off with only one language is an ancient intuition. It would assist diplomacy and trade just to start with. But this is not a view shared by many modern linguists. Many think that linguistic diversity is what we should aim at.

Sometimes the argument is couched in terms of an analogy with biodiversity. The linguist David Crystal says "We should care about dying languages for the same reason that we care when a species of animal or plant dies. It reduces the diversity of our planet."

Sometimes it’s a rights argument. Nettle and Romaine in their book _Vanishing Voices_ claim that everyone "has a right to their own language, to preserve it as a cultural resource, and to transmit it to their children."

Others talk in terms of the importance of preserving a folk-spirit. “Every language is a temple”, said Oliver Wendell Holmes, “in which the soul of those who speak it is enshrined”.

In contrast the writer Kenan Malik thinks that a language is simply a tool for communication and if it no longer functions as that then it should be allowed to die. While people should be allowed to speak any language they like, speaking a minority language should be treated as a personal, private hobby. It should not be sponsored or funded by the state.

So is the death of minority languages a tragedy for mankind, simply a sad, private loss for those declining speakers or a natural evolutionary development of culture?



All about the Stoa

What is the Stoa?

The Stoa is a philosophy discussion group which meets every month in the The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham to talk about serious issues but without being too solemn about it. None of us are professional, academic philosophers and although it's "popular" philosophy we're interested it's never dumbed-down!

When do you meet?

We meet on the 3rd Tuesday of every month from 7.30 — 9.30pm although many members continue informal discussion in the bar after the meeting finishes.

Where do you meet?

We meet in the back bar of The Bull pub in Tanners Street, Faversham, ME13 7JL. Directions...

How much does it cost?

There is no charge for membership but we do have a whip-round of £1 each just to cover the cost of the room.

What kinds of things do you discuss?

Browse through our Topics page to see what we've discussed at previous meetings.

What do you do?

Each meeting is led by a member or a visiting speaker and is generally based one or more articles we have all read (although it's not critical that you read the articles beforehand). Links to all the articles can be found on the Topics page and the dates of meetings can be found on the Schedule page (which includes a link back to the relevant reading).

Who can attend?

Everybody is welcome!

How can I get on your mailing list?

Drop us a line via the Contact form and you will be receive our monthly bulletin "News from the Stoa".

Why 'Stoa'?

In classical Greek architecture the stoa was the covered promenade attached to the marketplace which became the place where philosophers frequently met to dialogue and debate. In fact it was this habit of regularly meeting in the stoa that earned the 'Stoic' school their epithet: it simply meant "guys who hang out at the stoa and chew the fat!". I like to think that the title of our group suggests an open marketplace where ideas can be traded and critical thinking is our currency.

You might also like to compare the ancient Greek stoa with our marketplace at the centre of Faversham. There are some very close similarities and so that gives us another association with the title.

What is Marginalia?

Marginalia is a blog containing random notes, scribbles, comments, jottings and drolleries on a variety of philosophical topics, including those discussed at the Faversham Stoa. While the notes in the topics section of this site are intended to be fairly impartial, the ideas and polemics in Marginalia are unapologetically my own. You are welcome, indeed encouraged, to append your comments to the entries and start a conversation.


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