Just finished watching Stephen Fry’s Planet Word. A fascinating and whimsical, as only Stephen Fry can be, tour of language. Incredibly complex, except we learn it without even knowing how.

Wouldn’t it be easier if we all spoke the same language?

But I was caught by the comment made by a UN translator. Asked “wouldn’t it be easier if we all spoke the same language?” she answered (paraphrased) “language isn’t just communication, it’s an expression of our identity, it reflects the personality of the people who speak it”

Stephen Fry’s comment, as the program closed, is that the “Global Village” is threatening our current colourful tapestry of over 6000 languages spoken. While life may be simpler as a result, how much will we lose?

The language of the heart

My sister, in her work with Wycliffe Bible translators, calls the mother tongue “the language of the heart”, if we homogenise our languages aren’t we losing something of our passion, our personality, our depth and our richness of our individual cultures? Won’t our inability to talk about our culture in a language that developed uniquely to express it inevitably lead to the loss of our individual cultures?

So thank you to the many language workers who work tirelessly to promote and capture the mother tongues of so many people groups, you’re not just helping them, but helping us all by promoting uniqueness.