Almost every nation in the world has its own specific language and culture. In the episode “Why Don’t We All Speak the Same Language?” professors from different fields discuss possible costs and benefits of linguistic diversity to our societies.
As I have noticed, speakers in the beginning of the episode tried to give information to the audience in an interesting and entertaining way. They supported ideas with examples from personal experience and I found some stories to be really funny. For instance, one of the professors explained that his journey toward studying languages starts at the age of four when he fell in love with a girl speaking different language. Regarding the context and purpose of the discussion, we see how speakers provide some reasons and evidence to support their opinion on linguistic diversity. Director of the economic school Mr. Weber remarks that from the economic point of view linguistic diversity comes at a high cost and has a negative impact on countries’ economy. He used a “linguistic distance” metric in his study and found out that people from different countries speaking the same language can raise their trade benefit by ten percent. Furthermore, Mr. Weber asserts that linguistic diversity in one particular region can lead to linguistic war like in Sri Lanka. Professor McWhorter in his turn stated that linguistic diversity of the world is important for our societies and nowadays it is in danger. He points out that we have about twenty big majority languages that can eat up small minority ones. Consequently in the next century there will be not 7000 spoken languages, but only 3000. To support the importance and benefit of linguistic diversity professor Boroditsky outlines that bilingual people may have better results in some cognitive processes than monolinguals. In addition to that bilinguals are less susceptible to Alzheimer and dementia.
It was interesting and new for me to find out a connection between the European Union and the Tower of Babel. I agree with Mr. Weber that European Union can be an example of our modern Tower of Babel. All members of the European Union have different official languages. Moreover, they have to spend a tremendous amount of money on all translations that make collaboration process very difficult. As you can see on the pictures the European parliament building resembles the Tower of Babel by its construction.
Dear readers, I would be interested to know your opinions on the following questions:
How can humankind overcome all possible costs of linguistic diversity and safe minority languages?
Do you agree that the European Union has some parallels with the Tower of Babel?
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