Language - A bridge or a barrier?




Of all the things that people are fighting over on this planet, the most astonishing and mind boggling fight to me is about language.

So as usual, my curious mind took me out to search for an explanation.
Most people said that humans consider their language a part of their own cultural heritage and want to protect it. 
To me, it looks like fear of mortality is so ingrained in humans that they will try to find anything that they can make immortal... language in this case. But the most genuine answer that I could get was when someone said; it is a big influential tool. The impact that I can make on my native people by using my native language cannot be done by using any other language. If English is the native language for both of us then it would be far easier for me to influence you using English rather than Greek or Hindi or Spanish.

This helped me understand the requirement of promoting a language within the community but what remained unanswered was why would someone who let's say speaks Mandarin Chinese; want to force it on the other person whose native language is lets say XYZ? Even if that person learns Chinese, the influencing weightage would still be with the person who speaks XYZ because that language is deeply rooted in that person's mind.

I have learnt French but the songs in French do not make me fall in love the way English songs can. Let alone somebody trying to influence me in French for their own good reasons. Come on!!! Have you heard Dire Straits? 

It's one thing to be proud of your language but it's other 'not-so-great' thing to enforce it on someone else. In India, the land of diversity with 22 major languages (Hindi and English being widely spoken) and 700+ dialects, there is a saying "Atithi Devo Bhava", means Guest (Atithi) is God (Devo) but nobody talks about the condition that this saying comes with - God should learn their language to be well received. And I am not talking about Gods who come from abroad, in fact people staying within the country moving to different cities face this issue. One of my friends there had a hard time adjusting to the life of Bangalore city (in Karnataka state of India). He said, if people come to know that you are from outside, they will purposely speak in their own language (Kannada) even if they know English very well. 

What is it that they are trying to achieve after all? 

And then I tried looking for that answer too but the simplest explanation that I could find was - people make it a political tool. They attach emotional sentiments to the language to influence people making them believe that their language is superior than any other language. How silly is that? Any logical person would know that in reality it does not make any sense at all. No language can be ever be superior or inferior. Many languages have become extinct and many languages have evolved over the last few years. Even English language has evolved drastically.

What people fail to understand is that language is just a means of communication, some common sounding words structured in a way that two people can connect and understand each other. Such a simple thing to know and yet people don't understand it.

So, if you have to ask me if language is a bridge or a barrier?
Well, it all depends on whether it is being used as a 'means' or a 'tool' of communication.




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