You are currently reading English, considered as the Universal language. Not only, does it give me a wider audience I can communicate with, but it is also super easy to translate to the language of your choice. Most chats and emails I have with people is now in English. I read and study in English but yet at my house, I speak in Gujarati. Language is not just a way of communication but a culture engrossed in the society, we live in. India has the highest amount of non-native English speakers.
When you learn a new language, it not only involves learning its alphabet, the word arrangement and the rules of grammar, but also learning about the specific society’s customs and behavior.
A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed of glyphs to inscribe the original sound or gesture and its meaning.
Basically, language communication can be broken down into active and passive modes. Passive activities consist of reading and listening, while active is speaking and writing. Other than these there is thinking. Half the population of the world speaks 23 languages. On reading this fact, did you brain process the information in your native language or in English!? I am mainly bilingual. I read, write and sometimes even think in English 😢, but mostly talk in Gujarati. Often, I do also talk in Hindi, with quite a few of my non-Gujarati friends. When you have to communicate in 2 or even 3 languages, being the “jack of all languages” you can’t be the master of any. Languages as I mentioned are not just about speech, but also about culture. When we just have the superficial knowledge of languages, we do not have any understanding of its influence on culture.
For example, a lot of our scripture and old manuscripts is in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Latin or other ancient local languages are not in frequent use. When that happens, people cannot interpret it correctly. There might be an important satire, but without true knowledge of the culture we become dependent. This can give an opportunity for exploitation with superstitions or be a victim of half-knowledge. When we do not have the intellect to understand and make our own interpretations, we become mere pawns of someone else’s perspective. History has shown us many-a-times how this attitude has been exploited.
When you communicate with someone from another culture, which is very common in our current globally interconnected world; communication is key in understanding and getting along well with other people who have different background and beliefs
Values, basic assumptions, behavioral convention, beliefs and attitudes shared by an ethnic group make up what we call culture. This set of attributes influences the behavior of the individual members of the group and their interpretations of the meanings of the behavior displayed by each member. (credit )
दो नाव में पाँव नहीं डालते
What does this mean? A lot of, do not understand meaning and essence of most proverbs. Not only we do not understand a lot of Hindi words now, but cannot speak in pure Hindi for more than 10 minutes at a go. What does words like “velocity” or “psychology” translate to your local language? You might not know!
Why is it always so hard to write an English answer? It is because we do not completely understand the language (the culture, the satires and the nuances)
When we do not understand a language, the language dies and so does the culture. A lot of native languages spoken by ethnically unsubstantial people is being lost . Key pieces of human history are not able to be interpreted because the language that was used, is not in current use.
Until you don’t understand/discover yourself, don’t expect the world to understand you and your uniqueness. And this is what happens when we jump on learning others without know ourselves. We should have our individuality , our connection with our roots and our own perspective of the world .
That’s one of the reason why today’s generation is associated with intelligence (knowing the world) but the previous one – with wisdom (knowing yourself).
The Power of Expression
I am not telling to not learn a new language. Learning English has opened lots of economic opportunities. The existence of a universal language has allowed us to communicate and talk with people who we didn’t even know existed. Understand their problems and trade with them. But, we must ensure that the local language we speak and our grassroot culture should never be forgotten in embracing the foreign culture.
This is seen widely, as we watch and consume content in English exclusively. We slowly start adopting western culture (along with several of its malpractices and vulnerabilities) and forget ours. Cultures are dying and so are values and principles.
The key takeaway is that before you start learning a new language, it is essential that you know your indigenous language well and associate with its culture on a day-to-day basis. Making sure that your feelings are not just mere words, but have the culture and values associates with the usage of those words. Once we understand the culture, suddenly stories, myths and mythologies will start to make a lot of sense and you can visualize the scenes and generate your own interpretation and perspective.