Why Is The World So Diverse When

It Comes To Langu Essay, Research Paper

Muamer BajricMrs. MooreEnglish II2 June 1997 Why Is The World So Diverse When It Comes To Languages? It is known, even to a person to whom the entire study oflanguage isn’t familiar, that the language is the greatest factoron which most of the human activities depend. Without any form oflanguage, any cooperation and communication would be almost, if nottotally impossible (World Book Encyclopedia 62). This significanceof language is what draws scientists to study origin, differencesand connections between languages. Constant change of today’s languages is what amazes linguistseven more. With the emergings of the new nations there was quite anumber of new languages. One such case is the language of FormerYugoslavia, Serbo-Croatian, which is now called Croatian by Croats,Bosnian by Bosnians, and Serbian by Serbs. Though these languageswere once united and actually dialects of one another, they splitas the three nations split. With this came huge amounts of newwords in Croatian and Bosnian which caused the Serbo-Croatian torupture even further. There are few conditions that keep a language unchanged. Theyinclude a stable government, good communication, a centralizededucational system, a set of beliefs and traditions, and a spiritof national unity (63) Beginning And Change of Language Today’s languages all have three basic systems, phonology,grammar, and semology, and many have fourth system, writing. In the beginning, people talked and conversed, but they neededsomething that would record and later on recall words (Sparke 42).This destitution has resulted in early alphabets, pictograms.Pictures were used to represent objects and items. It was easy forpeople to represent those objects with the pictograms but it alsowas very hard to find a pictogram that would fulfill idea of, forexample, craving (Laind 50-54). Around 1000 B.C., the Phoenicians were the first people to usegraphic signs to represent individual speech sounds (AmericanHeritage Dictionary 65). Their alphabet is the foundation oftoday’s Latin and Cyrillic alphabets used in most Indo-Europeanfamily languages. Phoenician letters looked really different thanLatin and Cyrillic. The Cyrillic alphabet is the first to emerge since Greeks haveborrowed Phoenician symbols first. Most of the signs have beenchanged when they entered Greek. Romans too needed some kind ofsymbols for their language, so they too used Phoenician letters,but via Greeks. Romans changed them how they wanted and createdLatin; Greeks altered them their way and created Cyrillic. Thougharrived from one common source, these two alphabets areconsiderably different from each other. This example of how acommon ancestry can be changed and result in several differentprogenies is a very interesting idea which is investigated by thelinguists. There is a theory that today’s languages are indeed descendantsof distinct “parent” languages. For example many scentists areserious when they talk about pass Indo-European language that isthe source of about fifty languages including English and French.(Colin 112). Linguists hypothesize that all through history there wereplenty of reasons for language change. One such is a theory oftribe movement, which states that when a tribe enters a particularterritory and settles there for longer time, it will influencepeople not originally from their tribe to begin speaking thattribe’s language. The best way to illustrate this is to give a description of oneof the possible ways of what happened in Europe during such amovement. Early in history, people used to live in north-centralEurope. Looking for food and better place to live, they enteredsouth Europe, France, Spain, Britain, and reached all the way toRussia, Persia, and Indian subcontinent. But on their way, forsome reason, they didn’t touch Finland and Estonia, and went aroundHungary. This hypothesis can explain the enormous similitudebetween the languages of almost all of the Europe, Iran, and India.It also can give as an explanation regarding the strange languageisolation when it comes to Hungarian, Estonian and Finnishlanguages (Davidson 28-29). Sometimes the change doesn’t necessarilly result in creation ofnew language. It may also occur in development of existing grammarand increase in vocabulary. Sometimes it ensues in local dialects,that are still a part of larger language, though, in some cases,contain immense dissimilarities with it (World Book Encyclopedia64). Other reasons for language change might have been initialmigration, climate, and elite dominance. The initial migration is really a name for movement of peoplefrom Africa 100,000 years ago. Surviving traces of this migrationinclude Basque, Caucasian, Khosian, ans Australian languages. Climate, too, is a possible cause of language dispersal.Global warming several thousand years ago opened regions north of54th parallel to pioneers whose languages developed into thefamilies known as Ural-Yukaghir, Chukchi-Kamchatkan, Eskimo-Aleut,and Na-Dene. All the differences and similarities have prompted linguists tocreate so-called language families. Language families are groupsof languages that appear to have common characteristics. Linguistsdecide which language should belong to which group by comparing thewords with the same meaning in different languages and by comparingthe grammar and phonetic features. Word mother in Latin is mater;in German mutter; in Swedish moeder; in Bosnian majka/mati. Whenlinguists compared these words they realized that there was acommon ancestor of these languages–Indo-European language. They have found semblances between other world’s languagesaswell. By doing that have created a dozen different languagefamilies. Some of the major ones, besides Indo-European group, areIndo-Chinese, Hamito-Semitic, and Ural-Altaic (Davidson 30-31). Going back to beginning, linguists wonder what were the firstwords. According to Guinness’ Book of Records, the language withthe largest vocabulary is English, but the question is how 620,000words English consists of came to being (Young 249). It is thought that the first words were created by caveman andcavewomen who described everyday routine, or other similar event by

the means of sound. One of those events could be hitting theirheads when they tried to get up from the floor or sleeping place.The extraordinary pain would cause them to remember this situationby creating a particular word or sound for it. So when they werein similar situation again, they would yell out that word or sound.Another example would be imitating the animal sounds and by thatgiving them the names and identifying them in the future (Laind21). These may have been the ways of how the word was invented.When more words were invented, “people may have gone on ratherrapidly to invent more and more.” We can assume that the mostnecessary words came first–warnings, commands, names of things andactions–and later on abstract words–names for ideas and emotions(23). Power of Language “Language has been called the most powerful drug known tohumanity. The words we hear and speak can have a distorting affecton our points of view” (”Words, Thoughts and Deeds” 1).For huge amounts of words this idea is applicable. Political termsare exceptionally tricky. For example, word “democracy,” has started the biggest wars ofthe century. Both World Wars were fought for people to be free.In the World War I, Great Britain, France and U.S. fought againstGermany, Turkey and Italy. Democracy against expansionism. In theWorld War II, again Great Britain and U.S. against Germany, Italyand Japan. In this case it was democracy against Naziism andmilitarism. Vietnam War was fought “to stop communism fromexpanding,” and to save democracy throughout the world. Words have been used to create different stereotypes aboutone’s ethnicity or religion. Words have divided humans into white,black, red, and yellow. When a person says “n***r,” peopleautomatically think of a black man who is criminal, not thinkingthat their race is full of criminals, too. Words have been responsible for some of the most horriblecrimes of humanity. Naziism got it’s start by calling names.Their leader, Hitler, was known in history as the “master orator”,since he managed to turn so many German people against the Jews.”He knew how to pick the ‘right’ words for his purposes and toarrange them in slogans, which utterly overwhelm nonconformity withparty doctrine.” Third Party Languages With today 6000 languages and dialects, the attempt to uniteour divided world has been virtually impossible. The multiplelanguages in one country have also been a problem for humancommunities. More times the language has been used to partition aparticular country, than to unite it. Since this is a serious problem, third language is often usedin relations between two countries. Those languages are oftencalled linguae francae, which in Italian means Frankish language,named after a mixture of Italian and other languages used duringthe Middle Ages. Linguae francae are often used in trade and politics. The bestknow lingua franca in politics is probably English, since it isused, along with French, as an official language of United Nations.English is frequently used in peace talks and in sporting events,such as Olympic Games. In a country where many seperate languages and dialects arespoken, one language may be chosen as the lingua franca of commerceand government. One country like that is India, where, even though15 languages are constitutionally recognized, English serves asthird party language. Other examples include Mandarin Chinese andSwahili, a Bantu language spoken throughout East Africa (LinguaFranca 1). Creole languages are trully phenomenons, when it comes tolinguistics. They are fully formed languages that develop frompidgin (trade) language and gradually become the primary languageof a linguistic community. Basically pidgin and creole languagesmean the same. Pidgin language becomes creole when it becomes acommunity’s language, replacing community’s original language. About 15 million people speak creolized languages throughoutthe world. Their vocabularies are often derived from Europe’smajor languages. Some of those creole languages are French-basedCreole in Haiti, Mauritius, and Dominica; Gullah language in east-central coastal states of U.S.; Jamaican Creole; Krio; PidginEnglish et al. (Creole 1). Artificial languages are one more way to abate the differencesbetween languages and misunderstandings those differences create. Since 17th-century, there has been an enormous number ofartificial languages introduced. An interesting example was thelanguage Solresol, developed by Jean Fran ois Sudre in 1817. Allits words were formed of combinations of the syllables designatingthe notes of the musical scale (Artificial Languages 1). One recent attempt is Hans Freudenthal’s Lincos, intended as aprogram for establishing communication with extraterrestrialintelligent beings should they be located. “Although some natural languages have been widely used aroundthe world at various times as a common means of communication amongspeakers of various languages, it is uncertain that any onelanguage will ever be adopted universally.” English and French aredifficult to learn and are too closely identified with particularnational groups. Basic English, proposed in 1932, was an attempt to remedy thefirst impediment by reducing the vocabulary to a core of 850 words.For example, enter is replaced by go into, and precede by go infront of (Artificial Language 2). But of all the artificial languages, Esperanto is the mostpopular. It has a highly regular system of word information, withroots drawn from French, English, German, Latin, and Russian. Asimple and consistent set of endings indicates grammaticalfunctions of words. Thus, for example every noun ends in o, everyadjective in a, and the infinitive of every verb in i (Esperanto1). It was presented in 1887 by its creator Ludwik Lazar Zamenhof.Esperanto has about 2 million speakers in about 80 countries.However, in China it had the greates impact. It is though inuniversities and used in many translations. Judging by that, ithas fulfilled its function. Why is the world so diverse when it comes to languages? was athe title question. There were many reasons why as explained inthis project. Historic, political, and economic reasonsinterchange at this subject. We know how language is important tous, but we also have faced some situations where language wasneither pleasant or kind. Those include wars, political disputes,killings, name calling. All of these should have been eliminatedlong time ago, but since they are still here we all should work onthose differences. Language is very powerful, but it shouldn’t beused in above mentioned situations.


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