Breaking The Language Barrier

One language sets you in a dark, narrow corridor for life. Two or more languages opens up every door along the way that never existed before, ushering in light.

Speed of Sound = 340.209 m/s at sea level

Sound Barrier: It is the increased drag, reduced controllability, and other effects which occur when an aircraft approaches the speed of sound, formerly regarded as an obstacle to supersonic flight.

Slowly, with the advent of engineering and technological advances, man was able to break the sound barrier – he was able to engineer machines capable of traveling faster than the speed of sound (meaning it could cover roughly 3 football pitches in 1 second and more).

Bell X-1.
Nickname: Glamorous Glennis
What is it: An experimental rocket plane
Who built it: Bell Aircraft Company, United States
Number built: 4
What is special: Definitely needs a special mention in a separate sentence below

Bell X-1, nicknamed as Glamorous Glennis, was the first manned airplane to exceed the speed of sound in level flight in 1947.

It attained a speed of nearly 1,000 mph or 1,600 kph.

So, October 14, 1947. Chuck Yeager became the first human to officially break the sound barrier.

A phenomenal achievement for humankind indeed.

Now, what do I mean by ‘Breaking The Language Barrier‘?

Is there a special kind of speed with which we need to talk a language? Or a special kind of speed with which we ought to learn a new language?

No, not at all, of course.

Number of languages in the world (8,000 BC): 20,000+ 
Number of languages in the world(2016): 6,500+
Number of languages in India alone: 1,652 (including non-native languages)
How well does India rank among the multilingual countries of the world: In the top 10 (pretty well)
Total Population of India in 2014: 1.26 billion
Urban Population in India: 32% = 400.64 million+ people (as of 2014)
Total Population of India in 1981: 715.1 million
Urban Population in India: 23% = 164.473 million+ people (as of 1981)

What do the above numbers reveal?

A 143% rise in urban population alongside a 76% rise in total population during a 33 year period.

Further it shows that the percentage of urban population rise was greater than the percentage of total population rise by 88.15%.

Forget it. Too many numbers above there. Basically, the 1s and 2s above mean to say:
‘There is a lot of shuffling up happening from rural to urban regions!’

And if so much change has happened in the past 33 years, imagine the change in the next 33 years, what with the advent of social media and the internet revolution!

View this ‘rural to urban transformation and its effect on language’ as a coin. Any coin, of any shape, any colour, any size, any currency, any – anything.

But this is no ordinary coin. I did not mention one important consideration in the previous sentence, did I?

Sides. What about sides? Every coin has 2 sides, right? The good and the bad?

The Good:

The percentage of urban population rise was greater than the percentage of total population rise from the period 1981 to 2014.

And to say, we are facing a massive urbanization and internet revolution trend only from 2000 onward.

This simply means that, going ahead in the future, this trend will only continue.

Increased urbanization implies increased portion of the population speaking the lingua franca of the world, the language of business worldwide: English.
That can only be good for the economy of the country. In fact, this is what gives us an edge over China.

On a level within the country, it means an increase in cosmopolitan cities and towns – making them a melting pot of various cultures, languages, cuisines and traditions.
For the incomers and expats, it presents an opportunity to learn and appreciate the local language and culture, to absorb it progressively so that at one point in time they would not feel like an outsider – they would feel at one with the local people.
For the local, native people, it presents a different opportunity – to meet people from different places, to get to know their culture and tradition and, most importantly, leisure-wise – have a taste of different cuisines and types of food which would otherwise be impossible without the place becoming cosmopolitan.

Due to vast shuffling among places within the country happening for many people, they will have to speak at least 2 languages more than what they were accustomed to in their hometown: the local language of the new state/city and of course, English, which will be used more before they grasp the local language. In short, necessity for being multilingual will increase and therefore we will have more speakers of a language increasing with the influx. Narrow mindedness will decrease and broad-mindedness will increase among the people.

It’s a win-win situation.

With knowledge of many languages, you feel at home even when you are farthest away from home.

The Bad:
With the advent of urbanization, globalization and social media taking the world by storm via the internet revolution that we live in today, there is the danger of other indigenous, native languages taking a backseat. We Facebook in English, WhatsApp in English, basically all forms of written communication are being done in English. Whatever happened to the indigenous, native languages?

If this is not addressed, languages will expire. And with it, so will eons of heritage. Not a pretty sight to behold.

English is good for the business and economy of the country to prosper, but it should not overpower the indigenous languages.

English is perfect for the schools, colleges and workplaces and so on – apart from that, the local/native language has to be spoken at home and on the streets. This way, a balance will exist, and HAS to exist. This balance is crucial for India.

Why English? – The language of business and industry

Why Native Languages? – They make the country what it is, to hold on to the history, heritage, tradition and culture of the nation

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. But if you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

To the incomers/newcomers to a new place – take the onus of embracing the local tongue and culture and learning it – pick up a ‘learn in 50 days’ book, watch the latest local language film/short film, start conversing with the vendors in the local language – try and fail at it, fail gloriously and after a few months, you will speak gloriously

To the native people – embrace the diversity whilst helping the incomers with the latest films and books and encouraging them to pick up the language (certainly nobody would discourage – in fact they will be delighted to help you learn the language)

To the ones alien to English (ironically they cannot understand this) – pick up English on high priority to find opportunities in this fast moving world because it has become an absolute necessity

To all of us as a whole – let us pick up a foreign language apart from English and learn it – let us become truly global citizens while being patriotic about our own languages.

The world at large is going through massive changes – we have to change our mindset and open up to different people and cultures, while we hold onto our own stronger than ever before.

That is the way forward. 

Imagine a packet containing water – a transparent packet containing water. Let us say, it is of roughly spherical shape. You make a hole in it, just a single hole and then squeeze it with all your might. What happens?  A jet of water sprouts from the hole and depending on the pressure applied, ejects out with such force and vigour. It seems so vigorous, does it not? So much force, so much precision in its direction. But take a look again, observe it. It flows in but one direction – and that too very narrow in its approach.

Now make another hole in the packet, exactly opposite in orientation to the first. Squeeze with the same pressure. Now the intensity with which the water sprouts out is lessened, but it does look more beautiful, the sight, water flowing from two differing places in opposing directions with equal force. Now the intensity might have lessened than in the first case, but the flow is a lot broader.

Now, make multiple other such holes. And what do you get? A beautiful fountain of sorts sprouting from the once tightly sealed packet of water.  You have water flowing in many directions with the broadest flow…

Now imagine you have to nourish a lush, green field of rich plants. Such a multitude of packets of water, with multitude of holes in them would do a wonderful job would they not? Whilst at the same time, of course, providing the spectator with a splendid view…

The beautiful, lush, green land is ours, we are the refreshing, eternal packets of water, and the number of jets of water sprouting out are the languages we speak – the languages we speak nourishes and enriches our culture, heritage and tradition for the present and for the future.

So, the language barrier – when would it be broken?

Slowly, with the advent of globalization and urbanization, man was able to break the language barrier – he was able to speak  more than 2 languages (his mother tongue and English) – he was able to mingle with different people – absorb different cultures – while holding onto his own stronger than before – thereby creating a wonderful balance that will bring the country and the world closer together than ever before. 

Summing up, with one of Chanakya’s famous quotations from Chanakya Neethi:

Taaraanam bhooshanam chandro naareenaam bhooshanam patih
Prithivyaa bhooshanam raajaa vidyaa sarvasya bhooshanam

The moon is the adornment of the stars; husband is the adornment of woman; the king is the adornment of the earth (country); learning is the adornment of all.

 

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One Comment

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  1. Good one!

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