The points I wanted to highlight from this video were: language as a weapon and the concept of one language.
I agree with Mark Pagel when he describes language as a weapon. It is. Just as he describes we can implant our thoughts directly into another person’s brain. Persuading them, manipulating them or encouraging them. The ability to communicate allows us to cooperate and we can achieve the magnificent feats that human kind has reached (e.g. The Great Pyramid or even the iPhone).
My favourite Shakespearan play is Othello. That beautiful play is haunted by one of the most evil characters I’ve encountered, Iago. Someone being evil, for the sake of being evil. Iago’s greatest tool is the seed of doubt. That tiny idea he implants inside Othello’s pure mind corrupts. How did he tear down a great, humble, loving man into a jealous, broken and murderous husband? Words. Language.
I think that is why I love (and hate) Iago so much. His brilliance breaks down Othello with the sheer use of words. Manipulating the scenes, exploiting Othello’s trusting ear and reveling in it. He doesn’t need a fancy sword or a legion of warriors. He simply speaks. The power of language is phenomenal, it is both a tool and a weapon and should be used wisely.
Pagel then speaks about one language. Eventually, as by natural selection, one language will dominate and become the language of the collective human race. I am biased, I admit that honestly. I grew up bilingual and I am adding a third language to my list as we speak. I love languages. I think they are beautiful. To me saying that we should only have one language is as ridiculous as saying we should have one culture, one genre of movie, one instrument of music etc. I believe language is at the crux of culture so what does that mean for the hundreds of cultures out there?
Many parts of the world (particularly Western) are becoming connected. We can see it right now with facebook and even this blog. Internet is making this world “smaller” but does that mean we should standardize language? English is perceived as the international language but as China rises in the business world will it shift to Chinese? Regardless of who is the ‘big power’ in the world, to see language as JUST a tool is… a slap in the face of humanity and more so to the writing community. It is more than just a tool or weapon. It is an art form. I write for art. Art completes me. Writing is more than words. And as we know art take many shapes so how could we only have one art form? Let alone, one language?
Is language a tool, weapon or art form to you? Do you think we should have one language?
– Ermisenda Alvarez