|From:||Robert Jung <robertmjung@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, January 3, 2004, 1:18|
Would anyone like to review my language paper?
We were assigned a thing at school where you have to write a 5-¶ essay about
what one thinks is "the greatest gift one could give or receive". I thought of
language, of course! :)
Suggestions, comments, corrections etc. are welcome !
N.B. I have not included the Piraha~ alphabet because I don't know what it is! :(
Here it is...:
THE GREATEST GIFT
Language is the greatest gift. I believe this because then there would be no
communication and no technology etc. We use it every day; without it we
couldn't express some things. And without its diversity, there would be one
less thing to study, and life wouldn't be so interesting. If we all spoke
logically, we wouldn't have anything to laugh about like "That's driving me
bananas" to non-English speakers, misinterpreting of French "demander" ("to
ask"), or even "grammatically" from "grammar" or "interpretation" from "to
interpret" (shouldn't they be "grammarically" and "interpretion"?!). Language
is nice to listen to, too (choices differ though, of course). But now many
languages are dying (or have already died), and we are losing a lot of
Without language, no thoughts or feelings could be expressed or shared and no real,
advanced learning (or teaching) could take place. Without speech, we would not
be where we are today. Nothing of such magnitude could be told of to others,
too. We would be merely a bunch of robots, unable to communicate, stuck in our
own world. So it is very important!
Without its diversity, language would not be interesting or worth studying; this is
what makes it so fascinating. English has 26 letters (and over forty sounds),
while Hawaiian has merely thirteen (a, e, h, i, k, l, m, n, o, p, u, w, ? -
where ? represents a glottal stop), Rotokas merely eleven (a e i k o p r s t u
v), and Pirahã merely ten (
). Finnish uses vowel length to distinguish words (tuli "fire", tuuli "breeze",
tulli "customs/duties/tariffs"); Mandarin uses tone (pitch) to distinguish
words (ma "mother", má "hemp", mâ "horse", mà "curse"); and French uses
nasalisation ("bon") etc... English has "he/she", French has "il/elle" and
"ils/elles", and Arabic has anta ("you-singular/masculine") and anti
("you-singular/feminine"); Hawaiian has káua "you and I", máua "he/she and
I", kákou "you, he/she/they, and I", mákou "they and I", ?oe "you-singular",
?olua "you-dual", ?oukou "you-trial/plural". English uses adjectives ("good"),
Japanese uses stative verbs ("be-good") etc. English relies upon word order to
express some elementary grammatical functions ("British left waffles on the
Falkland Islands"), Hungarian has many suffixes (házaémban "in my houses"),
Japanese uses most of its affixes on verbs (tabesaseraretakunakatta "I did not
want to be made to eat", tabesaseraretagaranakatta to omotte orimasen deshita
"I did not think he did not want to be made to eat"), and West Greenlandic has
ininnukalaarniarlungaana "The thing is, I'm going to my room for a bit".
The beauty of language -- the sounds, the words, the differences -- is really
incredible. From Japanese's vowel-plentiful syllables (in fact, English "club"
became kurabu), to the Slavic consonant clusters, to the long Finnish and
native American (and even Japanese!) words one can create, to the Vietnamese
tones... The list goes on and on, of all the differences and of all the
"strange" or challenging-to-understand features. This is why we need to
preserve these languages for future generations to learn/study and enjoy! They
are valuable, and we must not continue to lose them!
In conclusion, I would like to remind you once again that languages are really
quite important, and should be protected. They are not irrelevent because, for
example, they are "not useful in this age of globalization and technology".
They are (or were) modes of speech for some people, and can teach us lessons
about how people think (or thought). Language is a jewel of mankind that should
not be lost. The minority languages should not have to suffer because of
globalization and the usefulness of English, of French, or of Spanish etc. -
they do not deserve to die. We must not continue to lose their fascinating ways
of expressing things; languages are things to be celebrated. So we must work to
document and preserve our languages!