11 Sep 2008 fxn   » (Master)

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 destruction. No 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.

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