How important is language?

I have always been interested in languages. Our language is the most important part of our being. I think it is important to learn other languages besides our own because it helps us to learn about other peoples and cultures but the most important one that we can learn is our own mother tongue as this is one of the most basic parts of our identity. If we lose our own tongue, for example, when we grow up in a country which is not our own, in my opinion, we are losing a part of our self.

I lived in Germany for 15 years and during that time relearned and improved on the German that I had begun to learn at school; I also met people from many different countries. Many people are afraid of those from other countries and I realised that the main reason was not knowing the other person's language and so they could not communicate. I believe it is this lack of knowledge of the other’s language that causes them to feel threatened by someone from another land and culture but when they start to talk to each other and learn a little of their language then the fear goes. I used to think that Germans were different to me but then I discovered that there is not really much difference between nationalities when we look beyond the outward appearance and start to talk to them.

When I was first in Germany and could not read the advertising hoardings or couldn't understand what people were saying I felt like an outsider. I felt cut off and unwelcome. On beginning to learn the language and talk to people I found that all these feelings were in my head and were not real. Language is a big barrier that cuts us off from others. That is one reason why L.L. Zamenhof devised the language of Esperanto at the end of the 19th century. It was supposed to be a universal language so that all nations could speak to one another. It has had interest from time to time but most people have not heard of it, it was a fad which has really died a natural death. I think we should learn the languages that are already in the world without making up new ones. Language is something which develops and grows with time. It reflects history and grows as our knowledge of the world grows.

All languages are important to me but I must confess that I cannot imagine learning Chinese or Japanese. They look much too difficult. The thing is though, that this is the reason that we all give for not learning someone else's language. Too difficult. Too much work. Why do we need to? All excuses. Maybe sometime in the future there will be a universal language that all nations of the world speak. It is a long time away but it may not be the stuff of science fiction. It could come about.

It is the ability to communicate (or lack of it) that is the cause of so many misunderstandings in the world. Then there is the arrogance of some who think that if they go to a foreign country they do not need to learn anything of the language but expect the indigenous population to learn theirs; but expect visitors to their own country to learn their language.

Why different languages grew up is something that scholars have been pondering for centuries and the study of linguistics is something that will continue to puzzle them for centuries to come.

There is something which I found very interesting when I was researching the differences is that in mythology there is a story from various races, religions or cultures which is actually almost the same.

Here are a few examples, the Hebrew Bible tells a story of a common language spoken by all humans. The people decided to build a Tower which they called Babel which they intended would reach Heaven. God was angry at this and confused their languages so they could no longer understand each other and work together. They formed groups and moved away.

Hindu mythology has a “Knowledge Tree” which grew up to the heavens. Brahma cut off its branches and threw them to earth where they grew into separate trees and created different languages and cultures.

Native Americans talk of a deluge which swept people all over the Earth separating them from each other and developing other languages.

As you can see from this the thoughts and ideas from different nationalities are not very different at all. In fact, when you study other languages you will find that most are very similar. Often the main differences are the alphabets and the pronunciation, the syntax is the same.

What I am trying to say is that the importance of language is how we use it to communicate. We should use it to show our understanding of the cultures and lives of our fellow men in other lands. We should go behind the outer shell and see the speaker beneath.

I know that being able to communicate with anyone in the world will not get rid of all the problems there exist, but it could be a step in the right direction.

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Comments 38 comments

myownworld profile image

myownworld 6 years ago from uk

so well written...and I do agree with every thing you've written. Language can actually keep people apart, and I learnt this hard lesson living in france, feeling so alienated because my french was so hopeless! You miss out on so much of culture too! Great hub!


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment. I think most people don't understand the importance of language. I'm glad you liked my hub.


tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Great Hub - language is indeed so important and sometimes, instead of bringing people together it creates a barrier between them. So important to have more than one language. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Just been reading Steven Pinker: "Language is the most accessible part of the mind."

Love and peace

Tony


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Yes, language is very important. The lack of knowledge of another language is, I believe, the biggest barrier between people. I think taking the trouble to learn another language is a step nearer to tolerance of the people who speak that language.

Thank you for reading my hub.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 6 years ago from The English Midlands

I agree with you on this, Hummingbird.

I am fascinated by words and love learning languages. My husband & I always try to learn at least a little of the language of any countries that we visit.

By the way, my daughter did an introductory course in Japanese, at school and she enjoyed it very much.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Thanks for your comment. It really is important to learn some of a language when you visit a place.

I think that is very good that your daughter learned some Japanese. It is a difficult language to learn.


gramarye profile image

gramarye 6 years ago from Adelaide - Australia

Great hub - sad though, the way language is headed, English may become the "shared" language, but it could also become the "dominant" language which is not at all desirable. That's the comment of gramarye today.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Yes that is true, particularly since English seems to be the main language that people use for business.

French used to be the main language for business and politics and now English is becoming that language. I believe that English will be a language most spoken but we should never lose all the individual languages. It would be like robbing people of their identity and that is the last thing that should happen.


Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 6 years ago

One of my regrets is not knowing another language. Thank you Hummingbird!


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

It is never too late to learn but it is easier if you are living in the country. Thanks for reading.


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Our world becomes smaller and smaller and English is "the official" language of the "vilage". Cultures are build around languages and the very identity of a culture is reflected by the specific language.

I have my own funny theory about why people are the way they are; Italians are the lovers of the world because they "sing" as they speak, Germans are precise and methodical because they have to wait until the end of the sentence to find out about the verb, etc. etc


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

I am glad you liked my hub. One thing about German though, if you are fluent in the language you mostly know which verb is coming at the end. Though, it is true, when you are learning it seems like this.

Thank you.


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

I gave up learning German when I found out that "girl" was a neutral; how absurd is that?. Just kidding!


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

It is absurd.


mquee profile image

mquee 6 years ago from Columbia, SC

I also believe people should try to learn a second language. It does take effort and practice. Very nice hub, thanks for sharing your thoughts.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Thank you for reading. I am happy you liked it.


nextstopjupiter profile image

nextstopjupiter 6 years ago from here, there and everywhere

I speak two languages fluently, another one I can read and understand, and I have some basic knowledge of a fourth one. All this helped me a lot on my travels, to come in contact with local people, to learn more about their culture ... Thank you for this hub!


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Thank you for reading. I am glad you enjoyed it.


Sa`ge profile image

Sa`ge 6 years ago from Barefoot Island

I keep wanting to learn, sometimes i start then stop. I have picked up words from so many languages doing this. LOL

but i do not know any better then my own, then again English is my second language, pidgin is my first! I somehow understand a little of a few but not much sometimes enough to get by. You are so right about the to difficult thing, that is why I keep stopping. LOL so funny! I loved reading this hub! :D


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 6 years ago Author

Maybe you should pick just one language and stick to it. The main problem, though with learning a new language is not being able to speak it daily. You need to go where there are native speakers to really learn.

Thank you for reading.


@MagicBoy profile image

@MagicBoy 5 years ago from Qatar

Hello HB, as I am living in a foreign country which has a foreign language, I am totally able to relate to your hub..I guess English being the most spoken language around the world could take the status as a universal language..many may oppose such a culture though..I accept, sadly though that I am not as good with my mother tongue as I would had liked..although learning new languages and cultures is my interest too..I guess a self motivated person would be driven to learn more than others..all said and done, a good hub reading which which bought a smile on my face..Cheers..


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago Author

I am glad you liked my hub. One thing that I find most important, is that we speak our mother tongue and can read and write it. Our language is a part of us that should not be lost. I know it is difficult if you have been living in another country than your native land. But maybe one day you will be as fluent as you are with English.

Thank you for reading.


Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

Language is our form of communication. It's what makes us of higher level than the other mammals. And English is our universal language, that enables us to communicate the world over. Found you in the Q-A forum. Too bad your profile was partly stolen.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago Author

Thank you for reading my hub. I saw your answer and left a message in reply. I can't understand why someone would steal someone else's profile like that.


celeBritys4africA profile image

celeBritys4africA 5 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Language and body language are very important to communicate.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago Author

yes. It is possible to communicate with only a small amount of language but it really is important to learn the language of whatever country we go to.


binsoi 5 years ago

Yes! because it helps millions of people communicate with in this world of different dialect cultures.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago Author

You are so right. Thank you for reading my hub, I hope you enjoyed it.


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

Hello Hummingbird,

You are so right, language barriers really keep people apart. In the U.S., students are required to take 2 semesters of a different language, in High School and in College. But nobody takes it seriously, so they don't get beyond a few pleasantries and basic simple sentences. I have met many people from other countries while in Jamaica, and found it funny when we try to communicate. One time a man from Canada was angry at me that George Bush was Pres, until I told him I never voted for him. Another time we made a peace symbol in the sand, and everyone passing wrote "Peace" in their own lanquage, written in fruit that was falling from trees near the beach. It was very touching. You have been to Pakistan so many times, you must really love it. Thanks for a glimpse into your life.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 5 years ago Author

I am glad you liked my hub. I do think it is important to learn something of another language, even if it is only a small amount if we visit another country. Yes, I do like Pakistan and I am learning Urdu too. I learned some a few years ago and have started again because I want to go to Pakistan again next spring if possible. I would like to be able to say something to people I meet.

Thanks again for reading my hubs.


msrkr94@gmail.com 4 years ago

It was a wonderfully written piece...I actually was gathering information about importance of language when i found this.... and I suppose I have got enough clear idea about it.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 4 years ago Author

I am glad you liked my article and that is was useful to you.


joshua carlo 12 4 years ago

i am glad i like the result of my home work


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 4 years ago Author

Did you use my article in your school work?


joshua carlo 12 4 years ago

Yes.I use yor article


arev 4 years ago

how important is language?


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 4 years ago Author

As long as you put a reference to my article that is fine, joshua.

Arev, is you read the article you will have an idea how important language is.


Hummingbird5356 profile image

Hummingbird5356 15 months ago Author

No I didn't. Is their language different or is it a dialect of Urdu?

Thank you for reading my article.

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