I’m certainly not advocating that we should have one language across the world, but what if we did?
Language is a very powerful thing. The ability to understand and be understood is defined by our language. Obviously it allows us to communicate, verbally and non-verbally, but also helps us to make sense of the world. It’s even been said that language changes the way we think. Looking at the big picture, there are an estimated 7,000 languages on Earth today. 7,000! That’s 7,000 different ways to problem solve, share emotion, and generate ideas – 7,000 different ways to see the single world we live in. This is a prime example of the ingenuity of human beings. It’s something to be proud of and to really celebrate as we are but one species, yet so diverse. Our language reflects onto our culture, values, and way of life, creating an atmosphere where all ideas humanly possible are thought up and presented naturally.
Currently, I’d say that English has the most influence today due primarily to economic reasons; However, Chinese is definitely catching up, if they haven’t already. This is a bit disheartening to me. A part of me wants to view this as a language takeover. If everyone in the world spoke English, would we all eventually have the same views about general issues? Frankly, that sounds terrible for more than a few reasons. The same goes for any language. To me, if everyone entered the world learning the same language, we would practically all be the same, just under the human level, at least. We’d be rather narrow focused and miss out on all the ideas and eventually cultures of the world. They are all important. Just because one language tends to “run the world”, doesn’t mean it should be put on any higher level than other languages.
Let’s think about something for a second, with a massive amount of Sci-Fi for some fun. Imagine tomorrow we discover that in the depths of the ocean (considering 95% of it is still unexplored) we discover a vast, intelligent civilization. The “Sea-People” (or you could go with aliens if you’re boring) are vaguely similar but very different overall. Their body language, language, and culture are vastly different from our own. I’d be willing to bet they would be condemned by most of our world population. We wouldn’t understand them. Just learning their language would be a tall task considering life as we know it is vastly different from the life they live, and vice versa. They would have words and phrases, body language and values, that we cannot even begin to fathom – Their way of life has never even existed to us. We don’t even have words to describe their words. If we managed to accept our differences and try to understand them it would be very beneficial.
Now let’s get back to reality. Of all the languages we have, the world is run by just a few. We don’t need the world to all speak the same language, we just need the world to accept them. There are many people out there today that hate each other simply because they don’t understand each other. The diversity of language is something to be celebrated, yet it’s one reason we are so divided!
Luckily there’s been a resurgence in many people’s desire to learn another language. Hopefully it’s due to the aforementioned reasons, but it’s a good thing none the less! There’s so much language learning software available, and much of it is free, too! Personally, I’d like to be able to fluently speak the language of every country I visit, within reason of course. I can only imagine the amount of wisdom one can gain by learning various languages. Maybe the more languages you learn, the more you’re able to see the world for what it really is – One.
I’ve been using a little DuoLingo expecting to finally become fluent in Spanish. It’s completely free. It’ll take some work, but it’s a great site. I’ll pass it on to you.