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Why One Language cannot Unite Humans on this Planet

Updated on February 27, 2014

Alone, language is not enough to unite humans on this planet

Language as a unifying factor

Power is a unifying factor. Power is classified into naked power, persuasive power, priestly power, executive power and economic power (Russell, B. Power). Power is the ability to attain an objective; it is a quantitative concept, according to Russell. If AA and BB have five identical aims and AA attains 4 of them and BB attains 2 of them, then AA is more powerful than BB.

Language belongs in persuasive power whose effect is voluntary submission on the part of the recipient. If a person who is having fever were told that taking aspirin remedies fever and he takes aspirin on his own volition, he is a subject of persuasive power. Classes of power can be compared with each other based on their strength, that is, how each attains its objective, say, in range of 0 to 10. Naked power means the recipient obeys on pain of injury or death. A person who is robbed by someone with a knife or gun who threatens to use this weapon if the victim did not hand him his wallet is subject of a naked power. The robber's objective is to get the wallet and uses naked power to attain this aim. He can attain this aim by means of a threat or by means of killing the victim,. Arbitrarily, we can say that persuasive power attains its objective in a range of 1 to 3. Naked power can attain its aim at 10. Therefore, we can say that naked power is more powerful than persuasive power.

The question we are trying to answer mentions unifying humans by means of language. The question is incomplete because it does not specify any aim. Unify for what? For heaven? For peace? For world market? For capitalism?

History of attempts to unify humans

Alexander The Great, a Greek, can be considered as the first to attempt at unifying humans on this planet. A Greek general was posted on each conquered territory. However, he did not propagate the Greek language among the subjects.

The Spaniards attempted to unite humans in colonial territories. It propagated the Spanish language in its territories like Mexico and in South America. However, it failed to propagate the Spanish language among the Filipinos. Spain spread the language only among the local ruling class and not for the whole populace as a policy to make the ordinary people ignorant.

The British propagated the English language in its territories like India and Burma. The English speaking people in Canada, United States, New Zealand and Australia are transplanted peoples from Great Britain.

The French propagated the French language in Louisiana, USA; Canada (Quebec and Montreal), Cambodia and Vietnam.

The expansion of German territories and propagation of the German language was aborted by the defeat of Germany in WWI.

The unification of humans by means of religion was attempted by Christianity when kings in Europe saw that it can use it as a means of subduing peoples of colonies. Charlemagne of France was the first to use Christianity. Kings of Spain and The Netherlands (which used to be a Spanish colony) used Christianity as well. So, Christianity became a power religion.

China first became a dynasty before the propagation of Confucianism. In terms of unifying humans, Confucianism is more powerful than Christianity as there are over a billion Chinese who adhere to the teachings of Confucius.

The Muslim religion is not to be discounted as a unifying factor of humans in this planet.

Now, with ecumenism that by definition includes non-believers, the Pope can be said to unify humans in this planet. Will Christianity use the German language? Latin? English?

In reality Christianity is divided. There is the Orthodox church. There is the Vatican. There are Protestants who have severed ties with the Vatican. In 1532 yet King Henry VII of England established the Anglican Church where he was the Supreme Bishop not beholden to the Pope. Protestants and Catholics populate the United States, the Philippines, and other countries. Filipinos established the Philippine Independent Church in 1902 that has severed ties with the Vatican. Christians in China are not beholden to the pope; negotiations are being conducted, initiated by the Vatican, to make Chinese Christians to turn loyal to the pope.

The bible of Christianity could have remained in Greek or Latin were it not for English translations: Duoway Rheims and King James version. I heard several masses in Latin and i could not understand a word. The Philippines was colonized by Spain for over 300 years (1527 to 1898) and masses were celebrated in Latin and Spanish by friars.

Globalization (unite for one market)

This is a concept and policy that consists in making the whole planet as one market. It overrides country boundaries. It originated from the agreement of the Big Three (USA, Great Britain, Russia) to make lesser countries to amend their constitutions to allow big powers to exploit their natural resources. This was part of their secret agreement at the Yalta conference in 1945 when Hitler's Germany was on the verge of defeat to the Allied Powers.

English is the language of globalization. However, English is only as a means of communication. If the posed question were on one language to unite humans on this planet for one market, then English might be it.

Unite for peace

The first large scale attempt to unite humans on this planet for peace was through the League of Nations proposed by President Woodrow Wilson of USA. as an aftermath of WWI in 1914. It was ratified by the Britons but rejected by the Americans. The next attempt is the United Nations as an aftermath of WWII. So far the UN has failed to foster a lasting peace in this planet. In 1948 the United States dominated the UN that approved an election in South Korea despite the objections of two (Canada and Australia) of the members of the subcommittee to evaluate the Korea problem. South Korea conducted an election that installed a government in the South; North Korea conducted another election that installed a government in the North. Thus South Korea and North Korea have come about that claim sovereignty over the whole Korean peninsula.

In February 1945 through 1950, there was a virtual unification of several peoples of the world. At that time the Axis powers (Italy, Hitler's Germany, Japan) had already been conquered by the Allied Powers lead by the Big Three. Therefore, the three countries had been under the control of the Allied Powers. The virtual unity was brought about owing to the desire to defeat the Axis powers but not in the spirit of peaceful co-existence. Even before WWII there was already an incipient rivalry between the west and eastern Europe led by Russia. In fact, if Hitler's Germany did not invade Russia, Russia would have been out of WWII. Joseph Stalin of Russia and Hitler entered into a secret non-aggression pact that Hitler broke.

However, in June 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea that started the shooting war between proxies of world powers in the Cold War. (I have a Hub on a one-world government being tyrannical and absence of authority being chaotic). The Cold War prospered even as the United Nations was already working, albeit being manipulated. Already English was the primary language in the United Nations. The United States was the caretaker of the UN army in South Korea. Gen. Douglas MacArthur, an American, was the first commander of the UN army in South Korea who was replaced by Gen. Brady (Kolko, J. and G. Kolko. The Limits of Power. 1972). The civil war in Korea has remained a stalemate even when the Cold War is over. (Civil war because even if the United States on one side, and USSR, up until is break up, and China on the other side have joined the war not one of them has declared war on each other).

The latest invasion of Iraq was not clearly sanctioned by the United Nations but spearheaded by a coalition lead by the United States and Great Britain. Early on, the Philippines sent a noncombatant team on the side of the coalition then withdrew it later on. This is an improvement over its position in regard to the Korea problem in 1948 when it sided with the United States to conduct an election in South Korea. (I have three Hubs on the Korea problem). The pretext of the invasion of Iraq, the existence of Saddam's stockpile of biological weapons, turned out to be unfounded.

Such attempts at unifying humans on this planet for peace if successful could bring along in its wake a language understood and spoken by several peoples.

One language amidst several languages

We may grant that English is the language of globalization or one global market. But that is only as a means of communication. Languages of peoples as part of their culture will stay.

That globalization is good or bad is another story. Therefore, it is doubtful if there will ever be one language that unites humans on this planet for peace. That is, language as the primary factor.

Filipinos have five languages and about 82 dialects. They have acquired English as added language. Some Filipinos also speak Chinese and Spanish. (I speak and write in Ilocano, Pilipino and English. I understand Ibanag,a dialect, and Spanish).


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