Do we need so many languages? (short)
Many languages are disappearing every year. Is this a bad thing, or could having fewer languages help bring people together?
Will we all think the same way in future? Or will countries communicate better? In this essay I will look at a future with fewer languages.
Many people worry about threats to their native language. They think they will lose their identity, and fear losing their culture, or even their religion. They worry that we will lose diversity and instead begin to think and act in the same way worldwide. Some even worry about the increased danger of conflict in a world with just five or six major languages.
However, this is too simplistic. It is true that many languages have disappeared and will disappear. But it’s important to remember that languages are alive, not static. English people do not talk like Shakespeare, and Greeks do not talk like Aristotle. Arabic changes, and so do Mandarin and Thai. New languages are developing right now. Second, even if a language changes, ideas remain. Not many Europeans speak Arabic today, but six hundred years ago it was the language of science. No one speaks Latin or ancient Greek, but the ideas of their philosophers still survive. Third, sharing a language is no guarantee against war. Many countries have vicious civil wars where both sides share a language.
In conclusion, our native language is one way of expressing our ideas and worldview. If it’s useful, we should use it, but we should also realize that our identity and potential is not limited to the geographical accident of our birthplace and native language. What’s more important is that we learn to think, reflect, and genuinely communicate with others, regardless of what languages we use.