I need some help from linguistics experts. Is there a way to evaluate the average language proficiency of a country (or, say, its president, or media in general). I got this idea because in Taiwan, almost no one, including our president and other politicians who so often make their appearance on tv, can speak in complete, grammatically correct sentences. It’s very strange, because politicians in Taiwan are usually pretty well-educated on paper, but nevertheless speak without coherence (and don’t get me started on their logic, or lack thereof). I remember when I was still living across the Pacific, that any ol’ person being interviewed on the streets could speak in complete sentences. I’m not just talking about businessmen, but also farmers, construction workers and the like (high school students are usually not so coherent).
So the question is, are we Taiwanese just less articulate people in general or is this the result of the complexity of our language? I’m rather convinced that we’re just dumber, since we as a country lack sound judgement and rudimentary logical thinking skills, but the scientific mind can never jump to a conclusion without some evidence or at least a plausible explanation. We can’t simply compare the percentage of grammatically correct sentences, or the use of filler words, or the misuse of words or phrases. We would need to compare them on a similar scale, i.e. we need to “normalize” the languages somehow. (ok I guess the quick answer is to compare the use of language across the strait to our hostile neighbors, the Chinese).
Well, does anyone know if anything similar has been done? I wonder how people study language in general? One of these days I need to pick up a few linguistics books. I absolutely have no idea how to methodically analyze something if it can not be quantitatively evaluated. Numbers are my friend.