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Thought Sixteen


One of the most powerful tools of understanding someone is sharing a common language. Many wars have been fought due to misunderstandings caused by language barriers.

Often when dealing with a foreigner a simple look of misunderstanding can be interpreted as a sign of indignation or aggression. Sometimes a language barriers promotes a spirit of superiority over another. Both often lead to conflict.

This is a problem that has been understood for hundreds of years. Try being a diplomat without a means to speak to the foreign people.

Finding a world language appears the best solution to promote world unity. The idea of a world language is old, and has been tried hundreds of times.

One of the more popular inter languages is Esperanto. It was created by a polish doctor named Zamenhof. He understood the problems caused by language barriers, which inspired him to create Esperanto.

Zamenhof used many sounds and language mechanics found in European languages to create Esperanto. Because of the many similarities, those with European languages could learn Esperanto without much trouble. There are books written in Esperanto, and it has been taught in schools.

Esperanto would be an excellent world language if the whole world spoke a European language. That is where the problem begins. Try teaching Esperanto to the Chinese or an Egyptian.

It would be very difficult for them to learn, because of language mechanics and sounds. An English speaker struggles with the Spanish "R" as much as a Japanese does with the English "L". Multiply this ten fold to understand the obstacle.

Esperanto is quickly rejected by many because it has no foundation in their culture and language. A world language is only good if people will learn and use it.

The mechanics and sentence structures of the world languages are just to different. It would be impossible to mix all the languages to come up with one language. It would be like putting onions on your bowl of cereal, they just don't mix to produce acceptable results.

Many have tried using technology to overcome the language barrier. There has been limited success using computers to translate language. Maybe with time the technology will be perfected. It will be quite a task because of all the complexities language translations present. A computer is only as good as the information programmed into it. The second obstacle to technology is that not everyone can afford it.

The search for a universal language appears impossible after observing the obstacles. But there is one language that may be able to break through the complexities.

That language is sign language. Although not a spoken language, it could be a powerful means of communication for those of different languages. With sign language, signs represent concepts and not words. The different National sign languages have more in common with each than with the spoken languages of their countries.

Indian sign language is one example of how sign language was used to communicate between the hearing of different tongues. Each sign does not stand for a word, but a concept.

If an Indian wanted to communicate what he believed was a lie, he would spread two fingers moving past the mouth to say "lie". The Indians call it the forked tongue. The concept, not a word would be conveyed.

Since the different national sign languages have more in common with each other than with the spoken languages, it would be much easier to come up with a universal sign language which could also be used by the hearing. The deaf would also have their ability to communicate enlarged greatly.

Allow the sign language experts, the deaf, to create the language, then teach it in the schools of the world.

Imagine going to any country in the world and being able to communicate with the people. Imagine the benefits of peace that would result by understanding the people of different countries better.

The day will come when a universal language is available to the world. Hopefully sooner through sign language. Maybe later through technology. The world is a smaller place due to technology, making a world language inevitable.

In the end we will find the true world language needs no words or computers, but is telepathic in nature. All our communications will be pure with no misunderstandings. Our ability to communicate will go beyond those we now have with each other. Are we ready for the technological explosion we would have with such a language? All things happen in their time.

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Copyright © 2002 by Brian Bresee. All rights reserved. The text of this book may not be reproduced in any form whatsoever, whether by graphic, visual, electronic, filming microfilming, tape recording, or any other means, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief passages embodied in critical reviews and articles.