“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.”
– Ludwig Wittgenstein
“He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”
– Frank Smith
We cannot escape language. Language governs us and we, in turn, govern our system with the help of language. Language is everywhere; in the waking and sleeping, in the minds and the mouth. Language learning makes a better you! There are unequivocal reasons to spend years mastering speech, words, and thought. It is the study of language that helps us to sustain our lives and lifestyles.
It is ‘language’ that gives us the insight to see, perceive, and feel things. It is ‘language’ that makes friends and strangers. The omnipresence of language is the greatest serendipity and the greatest struggle. It is the language that sometimes strains our voice bickering over arguments and vindicating accusations.
It is in the rhetoric and the long-standing gallery of portraits. It is the language that would never fail to fascinate us. Life is substantially governed by language. It is a vivifying force for both individual and social concerns. Words are deeds for writers. For them, they create social reality. In an age where we are constantly persuaded, we need to be inspired by deep thought embedded in words.
Our social reality is constructed and deconstructed by language. Identity is reinforced through the language. Language is what through which identity and class consciousness are packaged and sold in the newspaper. Before we resume our place in this world, everything is predetermined. Consider the performative task of gender identity, for instance.
What we learn from our experience is not the knowledge but the medium through which such knowledge is channelized similarly as we witness today that media spectacle has become more important than the news delivery. Our perspective is brought through the medium. Meaning is encoded in the complex structures and patterns of language. Language finds forms and depths through what we study.
The value of work is capricious but what is immutable is the fact that we are unequivocally satisfied by the values transmitted through the language first and later by practice.
Language study is the kernel of our understanding of the world. It is important for the understanding of intercultural interaction in a growing age of intolerance and incomprehension. Language establishes human relations. Intercultural sensitivity is required for the ongoing betterment of society. Without having intercultural sensitivity, we cannot respect plurality, rejoice in differences, and prosper in similarities. Knowing one language is not enough in this case. To be bilingual means having not only social, cultural, financial, and global experiences but also all sorts of literacy; technological, scientific, environmental, etc.
Researchers and academicians believe that cross-cultural experience is necessary skills today as many of the problems to be solved require combined skills, expertise, and methods. Working with people from different countries and cultures can benefit students and researchers personally and professionally, by cultivating new ideas and perspectives, as research is moving more and more towards interdisciplinary studies.
Bilingualism allows us to think and feel in new ways. We learn things about ourselves. Think for instance about the 2016 science fiction movie Arrival. This movie is an exquisite example of the importance of language learning and promoting the value of intercultural understanding. As long as you learn languages, you start developing empathy for strangers and establishing rapport with people which develops and leads to good relations.
When Google or apps are translating one language into the other, you would really be wondering who is going to learn languages and have cultural/intercultural experiences? You would also be wondering to know how, why, when and to whom! Loss of language means the loss of intercultural skills, insights, and perspectives. Stories and historical connections for cultures have been around for centuries primarily for these reasons.
Without language, you cannot make sound and ethical decisions for what is going to be the best for all concerned. Lastly, language is the greatest gift of human connections through which social and cultural cohesion can be flourished.