By: Dubem M. – Editor’s Column
According to the Linguistic Society, there are 6,909 spoken languages on Earth. 2,000 of those languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers …. but why do humans hold such high esteem for languages and the power that they bring? Why are languages so important? Why do we go so far and try so hard to find that perfect word for our sentence? Is it some innate necessity to communicate or are humans just weird?
Words and communication have been a recurring theme in all of human history from biblical times to the establishment of American Sign Language (ASL). From poets to translators to the creation of new languages, the way a person talks speaks volumes about where they came from and their life.
This may take us back all the way to the beginning of human history. One of the most distinct reasons for humanity’s survival was our intelligence and perspicacity. We were able to realize something was harmful and communicate it to the rest of our group without them having to experience it for themselves. This allowed humans to gain a reserve of intelligence without dwindling our numbers. And where did that leave us? At the top of Earth’s food chain as the dominant species. Communication was what allowed humans to thrive and reign victorious over other animals that had physical advantages like lions, or elephants, or our cousins gorillas.
Being able to communicate is an incredibly crucial part of human society. For some people, like individuals that have been deaf since birth and only have a few ways to communicate apart from body language and writing, and even though ASL is an easy way to converse however, it is still very uncommon for a person on the street to know ASL.
Have you ever met a new person then realized that they spoke another language that you also know? It creates a fast bond. But why? Being able to communicate uniquely with a certain person creates a near immediate intimate bond between them. This displays the importance the human mind holds for language because in a foreign environment the same language = friend. That may be because people that speak the same language as you are more likely to be from the same part of the world as you, and therefore, share more of your genes which ultimately decides many unconscious first impressions.
Most people with the ability to speak two or more languages tend to unconsciously switch between languages. Muchas personas hacen (many people do it). É normale (it’s normal).