How Many Languages Does it Take to Make Peace?
So what would happen if we all spoke the same language?
Would We Be a Better Species? More evolved? Would the world be a more beautiful place?
Let’s say our hunter-gatherer grandparents were not divided by language and all tribes shared from one giant food pool; would we would then have evolved into a more peaceful world? What if we woke up tomorrow and there was only one language, if there had only ever been one language … without any babbling of tongues … simply one clear and universal language spoken by the entire planet.
What Would the World Look Like?
Would the printing press have been invented eons ago? Would we have colonized Mars by now?
Or would the world be less bright? With the same architecture and the same food, there would never be a need to travel or explore foreign places.
If we all spoke the same language, then it naturally follows that people’s vocabulary would evolve over time, creating a schism between people. Out of necessity, 10 different words would arise for rice or rain in some places, while a little further away, someone else creates his own neologisms.
So would we then fight over dialects or regionalisms?
Would we still need localization experts, now that the language had so many different variations and expressions? How many words for rice or rain would we employ here in North America? Would there even be a North America? Language, such an integral part of identity, is what divides. So would we have countries, or would we be one great ethnicity?
Take English for instance: a global language if there is any. Would we then have British, American, Canadian English as well as an additional 200 new variants of English?
So, would war be waged over an accentuated A?
I do believe that if we all spoke one language, we would find reasons to fight. In order to distinguish ourselves, we would end up fighting over dialects. Our craving for individuality on a national or patriotic level, would make us fight over the spices used to cook rice.
So What’s the Alternative?
Say we all spoke all languages. Say language acquisition only took 20 minutes and we all mastered all languages; would we then, in this cacophony of tongues, at last find some peace? Being so busy juggling grammar, there would hardly be time for anything else!
As someone who speaks three living languages fluently, has another two on reserve and a few dead ones in the mix – more than is really necessary in one lifetime, it seems to me that it is only through language that we can gain insight into other cultures and places. Then and only then, would we finally be open to understanding one another. By learning each other’s language, we maintain our own individuality, all the while being open to everyone else’s.
So what do you think? Write me a comment and let’s talk about it …