Tuesday, April 29, 2008

One Universal Language

Well, a few weeks ago (ok, maybe it was a week and a half ago) our school had a Speech competition, and everyone had to take part in the first few rounds... I some how made it throught to the finals (even though i didnt win). There were only three people for each grade group. I chose the topic One Universal Language, and managed to say the speech without too many mistakes. Here is a copy of my speech (even though I might have changed a couple of the lines and stuff while I spoke...) Please leave some feedback as to what you thought about it. Thank-you.

**It has the bibliography and parenthetical references...just ignore the stuff in the brackets if they dont make any sense... **


Bonjour, Ciao, Angyong, Kemcho, Hola, Jambo, Saluton, Hello. What are these you may ask? Well, they are all the same greeting said in different languages. But why do we have so many languages? Why can’t we all just talk in one language? Does it make us cooler to talk in all these different languages? The definition of language is “communication by voice in the distinctively human manner, using arbitrary sounds in conventional ways with conventional meanings;” (Language – Definition from dictionary). Language is supposed to aide communication, not complicate it. So there should only be one language that we speak in, making the communication aspect of this easier.

This speech is being spoken in English, but what if I were to speak in Kiswahili? Una fahamu wile ame aleziwa? Maybe a little French? comprenez-vous ce que je dis ? Or maybe gujurati? Thune Kuburche hu su keyuchu? Unless you already knew these languages, you would have no idea what I was trying to say. I just asked, in all three languages, Do you understand what I am saying?

There was actually an attempt at creating a Universal Language. L.L. Zamenhof, later known as Dr. Esperanto, spent many years creating the artificial language of Esperanto (Harold, Donald J.). He learned the rules and laws of many European languages, like French, Spanish, English, German or Italian, and then had to understand the common roots in order to create newer versions of the words for Esperanto. This took many years of research, but eventually he was done. In Esperanto, Esperanto means “One with Hope” (Harold, Donald J.). This was a good way to describe Dr. Esperanto, as he was a hopeful man in believing that everyone would pick up on his idea for Esperanto, the Universal Language (Harold, Donald J.). Unfortunately, he was wrong. The idea of this language did not pick up as well as hoped, and only a mere two million actually speak the language (Harold, Donald J). Esperanto failed because by the time it had been created, many schools were being taught in English, or the native language in that region (Harold, Donald J.). The two most common languages are English and Chinese Mandarin, with more than a billion speakers for each, and so it was impossible for Esperanto to compete with them.

But where did all these different languages come from? No one is sure, but there is a very interesting bible story. It is called the “Towers of Babel” (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11). Many of God’s people were gathered at one place, and so they all started to talk, and through talking with one another, they came up with the decision to build a tower that was high enough to reach god, and where he stayed (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11).. God came down to see the tower, and thought that if these people could build a tower because they could speak the same language, then they could do anything they want, because they can speak the same language (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11).. God didn’t like the idea of them being able to do whatever they wanted, and so he gave each and every one of them a different language, and put them in their own part of the world to live in (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11).. This is just one theory as to why there are so many different languages in the world. Another theory is that because many people lived in different locations, they had to learn how to communicate in their own way (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11).. Because they didn’t have Internet, or telephones at this time, and so they had no idea what other people were saying (Tower of Babel – Genesis 11).

This obviously led to problems in the later years. Once people started to interact, there were many communication problems. People had different meanings for different words, and sometimes when they tried to say something nice, they would be insulting another tribe, and vice-versa. A good example of this is when Bob wanted some eggs in Nairobi. He went to the kiosk down the road, and asked for some. Here I should mention that Bob speaks English, and no Kiswahili, while Mwangi (the man who runs the kiosk) only speaks Kiswahili. Bob went up to Mwangi and asked “Please can I have some eggs?” Mwangi had no idea what he was saying, and so ignored Bob. Bob kept asking Mwangi for some eggs, and after half an hour of trying, he gave up and went home. The next day he came back and asked for eggs. Again Mwangi didn’t understand what he was saying, and ignored him. The next day, Bob decided to try shouting at Mwangi, and Mwangi did not appreciate this. He punched Bob in the eye, and then laughed at him. In all of Bob’s pain, he could only shout out “My Eye! My Eye!”. In Kiswahili, “Mayai” means eggs. Mwangi then said “Oh, na taka mayai?” and gave him some eggs.

What do you think? Wouldn’t it just be easier if we had one language, instead of the thousands that we currently do? If we could all speak the same language, and not have any problems with communication. Everyone could be understood, and like Bob, no unnecessary pain will have to be felt. Dr. Esperanto had a great idea of trying to create a universal language for all of mankind to communicate in. Unfortunately his plan did not work as the leading languages were English and Chinese Mandarin with more than one billion people speaking each of them (KryssTal). Compare this to the world’s total population of six billion, and you can see that the numbers are very high. There is still a long way to go if the whole world were to adopt one universal language, and now the ultimate question, is this possible in our lifetime?


So...honestly, tell me what you thought about my speech.


Bill Chapman said...

Hello, Aashni

You asked for views, and it's clear you've thought a lot about the topic. However, I think you've been unfair to Esperanto. I see this planned language as a remarkable success story.

You might be surprised to learn that Esperanto has an extensive indigenous culture and an original literature to rival that of many ethnic tongues. Naturally it didn't start out that way, but when you have such a large community speaking a common language for such a long time, it's probably inevitable that culture will emerge. People around the world use Esperanto every day for everything from childrearing to religious worship to technical manuals to tourism.

Take a look at www.esperanto.net

You might want to start an Esperanto Club in your school.

Remush said...

Zamenhof often used a pseudonym based on his name. Zamenhof was split in zamen+hof from which he made hofsam. In german hoffen means hope and sam is a suffix like in spar-sam (having the quality of being economical). Esper-anto is just build like hof-sam, and had nothing to do with the language that he called "la internacia lingvo".
Later the language was often referred to as the language of Dr. Esperanto, in short Esperanto.
At the time Z. created his language, the international language was not English, but French (also spoken in the high society in England).
The language did not spread very fast because Esperantists were scattered over the world, and the only practical means of communication was by post. Nowadays with internet, Skype (free voice communication) and low-cost flights it can spread much faster and does.

Brian said...

Hi Aashni

I am a native English speaker, but can I say in Esperanto "gratulon"

That means congratulations in Esperanto and I say that because you took time to think out of the box. As the say in common parlance, in London, which is where I live.

English is not, and cannot be, the future global language. Both on grounds of practicality, and on grounds of morality. Ergo "linguistic imperialism"

In short, "roll on Esperanto"

Aashni XoX said...

Thanks a lot to all of you for responding...my goal was to get people to think of having one universal language, and wonder why we have so many different ones. I didnt specify which language should become this universal language, but that we needed one. I put Chinese Mandarin and English on the table because they have the most speakers in the world at the moment.

But thank-you again for all the wonderful feedback :)