Google+ Studio 25: One Language

9.3.13

One Language

Imagine!

Just dare to imagine every corner of the world being open to you. Imagine travelling from China to Lithuania, and being able to ask for a cup of tea without the need of an interpreter or book. Imagine, travelling from India to Africa and not feel a foreigner lost in a world of unknown sounds, of unintelligible blab, a planet with a common platform of expression.

A common platform of expression. How realistic is that? How will this concept impact interactions between individuals and between individuals and society? The tool to be used is common sense. Since society has at its core individuals and communication a common platform is essential in reversing social fragmentation. Mind  you, we are talking about a unified means of expression rather than replacing core cultural values.



"Language creates society
This relation is not apparent in static societies ; it is easy to assume that society antedates language. Even ‘primitive’ societies are no exception. A ‘primitive’ society is one where language use is primitive, and indicates hunter-gatherer tribes ; yet a tribe cannot be established until the necessary linguistic signs for authority are created.
Society cannot be created until a group of people has some values in common. And values require a language to embed them and articulate them. It is language that brings people together and keeps them together. Language always precedes society. Even in small groups this relation holds: for example, in a political discussion group the people come together because they already have, or want to learn, a common political language."

(ref. "A Modern Thinker")

I make no secret, I am a staunch supporter of  integration, of a One World, One Society idea. And this idea is not about breaking ethnic groups, tribes or nations apart, nor enforcing it. It is about educating ourselves in the view of the benefits it can bring. It is about parallel encryption of  notions, knowledge, universality. It is about a kindergarten kid learning that "Hi, mom!" can be said  also as "Hola, mama!" or "你好,妈妈 !". It is about an adventure in the life of our kids, being able to understand "Tom and Jerry" irrespective of their birth place, to laugh while watching "Ну, погоди!" even if you were born in Spain.
There are critical voices, that raise the possibility of forced assimilation, of the dangers of the "melting pot" effect, giving examples from the past, but i would say that the "English experiment" has huge advantages in about a quarter of the world, mirrored in the "Spanish experiment" with about the same effect. Yes, the initial reasoning was exploitation, but the variables of the "World equation" have changed. The biggest asset we had until now is on a descending trend, with knowledge taking its place. You don't believe me? Well, find the biggest companies in the world, and see what they trade in a proportion of more than 50%. The answer is not the same as 100 years ago, the answer has changed into Technology, Services, Information. They trade more in the knowledge than into raw materials.

Esperanto: Failure or insufficient support?

"The major obstacle in the way of further progress, both in the United States and elsewhere, is simple ignorance of the scope and possibilities of Esperanto research. Library collections are poor, knowledge of the language among scholars in relevant fields is slight or non-existent, and the resources for changing this situation are severely limited. But modern trends in linguistics would seem to favor the exploration of this unique linguistic and social phenomenon. As Pere Juliý has pointed out in a particularly persuasive article (1989), formal theory must shift to accommodate empirical linguistic fact. There is a tendency in linguistics, he suggests, "to allow the formal techniques to dictate the conception of the subject matter rather than the other way round". But there are signs that this is changing. Perhaps this modest review will hasten the process."
(ref: Juliý, Pere. 1989. "Linguistic theory and international communication." Language Problems and Language Planning)

Yes, so far, Esperanto is a failure! But not due to its intended applicability, the returns of a global policy to pursue a universal platform would be of huge consequences. Its failure is related to the ignorance and lack of support.

A reference to programming languages I believe is more than sufficient in emphasizing the importance of the matter. It all started with mathematics: when everybody spoke of addition in the same terms, about integrals using the same notations, it all started to make sense. It continued with ENIAC, FORTRAN, COBOL, SIMULA, B, C to the programming languages used today, languages with an very important attribute: Universality