11 Sep 2008
(updated 11 Sep 2008 at 19:10 UTC) »
Essay: Towards a universal language
As much as I love Catalan, I wonder whether Internet may
be an inflection point
towards the gradual emergence of a universal language.
I have mixed-feelings regarding the premise that human
languages have a value as cultural patrimony.
Languages are a historical accident, they arise essentially
because people communicate with people in a small radius and
that makes things diverge. It happened that evolution gave
us languages, but for me that's heritage with no intrinsic
value. On the contrary, for me it means separation.
Languages are a symbol for nations as well, when someone
gets conquered the language of the victorious is imposed,
and the one of the defeated persecuted. That's
value over here to look for, well not for me anyway.
When communication is the goal people forget about
that, and just jump to whatever works. Normally that's
English. If you speak English with people at a conference
you are not perceiving your local language as being
attacked, or your rights as a citizen of somewhere being
violated. You just speak with people and whatever works is
fine, because language is then just a mean.
I think it could be the case that the globalization in
communications brings as a consequence a fix for Babel. When
my daughter grows up she will be able to make online friends
in the entire globe. I think next generations will gradually
detach from the emotions we associate to languages
nowadays, and by themselves derive towards something that
works. I mean that's not going to be imposed, decided, or
voted, in my idealization that just happens. English
may be the de-facto standard due to its inherited inertia.
I believe that's gonna happen, and that would bring us to
an epoch where humankind is bilingual in general.
Communication and transportation will be much ubiquitous,
and people will naturally speak some universal language,
together with their mother tongue.
I wish those mother tongues eventually die or last as a
cultural curiosity of past times, and people can freely
communicate all over the Earth.