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Shall we mourn the death of languages?

I say, languages are like water. You travel a few miles and the water is different. Same is with languages. But, like civilizations and culture, languages too evolve. Many die a slow death. Some are merged into another dialects and languages. So, why are we discussing it here? Darwin’s theory should apply to languages too. That which will be the fittest shall survive. Right?

I am a very practical person. So yes, my practical thought says, languages have to evolve, have to change and even die. How would a truly globalized world happen, if we all keep sticking to our regional or local dialects? How will knowledge flow smoothly? Look at how English is helping connect so many people with each other. Most of the governments in the World recognize English as their first or second or even third language. Most of the companies recognize English as their official language. It makes life and career so easy. So it is a good phenomenon. Let the languages compete and the winner shall be accepted by all. There is no need to even discuss this issue further.

I have a deep affection for arts and creativity. So when I look at this issue from that view point, I feel kinda sad. I have travelled a lot and experienced lot of cultures. Isn’t language the very backbone of any culture? I was in Kashmir once, attending a wedding, and this bunch of ladies is singing a folk song that I don’t understand a word of. But the emotions moved me. You could feel the emotions heavy in the air. Isn’t it true that some of the best poetry in the world has been written by poets in their local dialect? Doesn’t that make it better? Like say, using a local ingredient for your food. Languages are cool, we should have a lot of them. Look at how much literature we could read, if we knew those languages. Like say, pre- independence, in India, Persian, English, Hindustani, Urdu were popular languages. Now, we don’t teach our children Persian or Urdu or Hindustani any more. What about its literature? How will anyone read it. Of course by translation yes. But the artist in me cries foul over it. It says you lose some of the essence some of the beauty of it. Say we all start chanting Hanuman Chalisa in English and not in Sanskrit or have plays by Shakespeare translated in Punjabi or Urdu. Would they be as beautiful as they are in their native languages? Languages should be taught, promoted, they should be encouraged to grow not die. They are a medium through which one can discover bountiful treasures of literature, history and arts.

Now I am jumping to the third perspective. The philosopher in me, who keeps on blabbering like a wise old man thinking each word he speaks, is the word of wisdom. But do listen to this one. Languages are our identity. A person comes to speak to you, you can from the accent and language know exactly from which country, province and even the exact region from which that person belongs. Isn’t that good? In this mad fast World, where we all want to be global citizens and never know where we truly belong? Take the example of China. It can be the most powerful country in the World, if it gets rid of its language and embrace English like everyone else is doing. It is true. Language barrier is the biggest road block in China’s growth story. But no, they won’t give in. They will try to embrace English, but never get rid of their own language. Local dialects are a part of our heritage, our culture. They shouldn’t be just left out for we have now found better and more acceptable languages.

So these were my perspectives. What do you say? So share some thoughts here.


Y said…
They don't even teach any language after the first year of college. Even in the first year it's English they teach.
I read this joke once we I feel is quite relatable to your post:

India is a country where, if you tell a person his Hindi is bad, his reaction will be:

If you tell the same person that his English isn't up to the mark, his reaction will be:
Dude before saying anything make sure of what you are talking about *series of English offensive words*

Welcome to India!

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