In this Freakonomics radio episode, Stephen Dubner raised an expansive question like Why don’t we all speak the same language? Several experts in the fields of linguistics, economics and history from different educational organizations were asked to try to answer this question and share their own experience regarding the linguistic diversity of our world and its role in their lives.
By trying to understand the history of languages the author tries to explore would it be possible for everyone to speak the same language. Even though there are 7000 different languages spoken in the world, it’s obvious that ones are more dominant than the others. And it’s known not only by the number of speakers of those languages but by the role they play in modern society as well. There is an assumption of the author that everybody in the world would agree to speak the same language if it was possible and he wonders aren’t 7000 languages too much for 7 billion people. Somehow it looks like it’s all about provoking the idea of one standardized language for all and involves the thoughts that it could be the English language. The idea that if everyone on the planet would speak the same language jumps out from time to time, but did the author really think about the probability that one could face all those 7 billion people? Is there a real need for only one language? I mean what is the maximum number of people one can meet for his/her whole life. What do you think in this regard, would it be better if we all speak the same language?
I was shocked to the point that how language can be influential in one’s life from economic perspectives. It’s understandable that people who speak more than one language are more likely to get a job with a good salary rather than who don’t, but I even didn’t think about that “the case of language” can be beneficial not only on a personal level but have a tremendous role in trade between countries and this point was supported by the evidence as conducted research in The Journal of International Economics. The metric called “linguistic distance” is definitely something new in my linguistic repertoire and I’d love to know more about how and what it is used for.
Overall, this episode narrates overarching questions and tries to explore them from various perspectives. I’d definitely recommend this episode to listen to everyone who is interested in linguistics, and especially who is eager to know the relation between linguistics and economics.