TED Conversations

Hugo Wagner

Graduate Student - Mechanical Engineering, UC Berkeley


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Is our destiny to be one world with one language?

Are we heading towards a world with one common language?
If you think so, do you believe that it will happen naturally (because globalization requires it) or because of one country's leading "soft power"?
Would it enhance international cooperation and promote better understanding between countries?

On the other hand, what would it mean for human cultures and civilizations?


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  • Aug 7 2011: Would a world with _one_ language also be a case of Chimamanda Adichie's "The danger of a single story", when we lose different languages to look at things with?

    It's one thing to only have different words, maybe different sentences - but different languages almost force a different way of thinking...
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      Aug 7 2011: I absolutely agree. Learning a new language can be like seeing the world through a new pair of eyes.
    • Aug 8 2011: Really .......
      PLEASE tell me when did mark say "NO OTHER Languages " HE DIDNT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      he said we should work on the ability to communicate how hopless are we when those that do speak english dont actually understand the words that came out of MARKS mouth !!!!!!
      He said one language to communicate not abolish the others which would harm culture and encourage dementia in older people he only said we should have the option to communcate without a generic one mandatory language AMOUNG THE OTHER LANGUAGES for dummies that need every wrod spelled out for them.!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • Aug 8 2011: Sure he wasn't asking for that - but think about it from another way - how is this going to continue?

        If everyone spoke English (plus _maybe_ another language or two), you don't think that over time the other languages would fade into obscurity? And the more other languages fall out of use, the more you end up with 'one language'.

        If you think it would be enough that he didn't say 'no other languages!' - then surely, the world must be in a great place, with got knows how many languages. But - languages are dying out already, even before Mark started calling out for 'one language'. Sure, it's simple enough to say they're little used languages anyway, and probably not much of a loss. But to do that, we also have to make ourselves judges of what languages and language idioms are good -- again, leading a path to less diversity.

        One more point - I don't mind arguing with you or anyone, but do you think it helps any discussion to 'SHOUT' or imply other people in the discussion are 'dummies'?

        Surely, my English is far from perfect - I may lose a thing or two in translation or miss a word in a spoken sentence, because I can't look it up without breaking the flow of the spoken word. And in a similar way, it may also be that anything I write might not be quite up to your standards. Still, assuming that if someone says something you don't like, that they must be 'at fault'. Much like you assumed that I wouldn't have understood, I assumed it would be obvious what I meant, when - unfortunately - it wasn't.

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