Language is an instrumental apparatus that serves a multiplicity of purposes; however, many, if not the majority of people do not fully understand, nor comprehend the importance of language. Many people view this vital tool as trivial and simple; a frivolous convenience. Nevertheless, in reality, in actuality, language is an entirely important device. The art of communication is as beautiful and incredibly useful as it is crucial and indispensable. The idea of different tongues and how we use them in a world of a dominating lingua franca is something that I, personally, am quite interested in and believe others should at least grasp the significance of in tandem with an appreciation of language as a whole.The simple fact is that language is the only reason the world has come as far as it has; our society, our culture, it’s all contingent on language.
I am wholly inclined to believe that language outside of English is just as, if not more, important than this global lingua franca. Though I was lucky enough to have English as my first language, most of the world isn’t. The majority of the civilized, the developed world is forced into learning English out of some mandated requirement, but still knows at least one other language, likely their native tongue. So after realizing how sheltered a life I have lived, only ever being required to know English, I have taken it upon myself to step out of the average American stance and learn multiple languages. I refuse to only learn the “orthodox” languages like Spanish, no, I am learning Russian and Bulgarian and Ukrainan and A.S.L. I want to learn Greek and Arabic and Portuguese and Italian. I want to be a linguist and further explore this particular interest of mine and help others understand the importance of language along the way. We use it everyday, it is entirely essential, but so many don’t pay any mind to it.
I was born in America, Virginia specifically, and as such, clearly, my mother language is English. Both of my parents speak English as their first language as well as my brother. My mother and father both briefly studied Spanish throughout their high school and university years, but never even reached the level of semi-fluency and retained little of it after the fact. Despite this, my dad, having a great appreciation for language, was determined to have his children to be bilingual. From the age of three my dad began teaching me Spanish. He implemented the language into our daily lives and made sure that every word or phrase or saying or sentence that I learned was actually tangential to my life at my given age. He taught me the word “escuela” and when he would drop me off at school in the morning he would ask me where we were. He taught me words regarding foods I would eat routinely, and taught me how to tell someone that I only spoke a little bit of spanish, I learned how to count in Spanish and the Spanish alphabet song and so much else that I still know to this day. This provided me with the foundation that virtually no other kid in my classes had when we became of age to learn Spanish through the school system. Additionally, it served as a catalyst for my love and appreciation of languages. When I moved here and began school in Loudoun County I joined American Sign Language Club, in middle school I continued to excel in Spanish, and after watching a t.v. show with a Russian protagonist I decided to take Russian language my freshman year of high school. Upon taking this course I discovered I had a natural propensity and affinity for learning language. I blossomed into someone who is now a polyglot. I’ve done so well that I began learning Bulgarian and Ukrainian without the aid or backing of a school teacher, but entirely autonomously. I ventured to other language families and looked at tongues of Greek and Arabic. In the midst of all this learning, what became clear to me is that the way in which we as individuals communicate is as fascinating as it is important. Due to my abilities as a polyglot, I have been able to help so many individuals who don’t speak or understand English; on top of that, when you speak someone else’s language it provides a special connection that is near impossible to put into words.
Upon interviewing a Russian language teacher, Svetlana Spencer, at Heritage High school my views on language and moreover, the knowledge of more than just English, were confirmed with her saying, “When I first moved here all I could speak was english. There was no one who knew my language, no one who could really truly relate to me because the way I spoke was different. I didn’t always understand the jokes or sayings that those around me were making and vice versa. I felt somewhat isolated from the people around me” (Spencer) and as sad as that all is she went on to say, “About two years after moving to America I met someone else who spoke Russian and the connection was instant” (Spencer). Mrs. Spencer struggled because she had no one who knew her native tongue, but coming across someone who did allowed for a feeling of familiarity and joy
A smart man once said, “Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out they grow” (Holmes). Language is a crucial device when it comes to discourse and communication. It is not merely a means to expressing thoughts and beliefs and ideas and theories, but also emotion. Language has the propensity to set the foundation for friendships and camaraderie and relationships and even cultural ties; really all manner of bonds. Without language, what would we have? A language shapes the way people perceive the world to be and it also helps to define a culture of any society, isolated or global regardless of civility.
It is a truly remarkable gift of God. In fact, Aristotle once said, “Man is a rational animal and that is what sets him apart, what raises him above the animals, is that he has the ability to reason, and it is very clear that he cannot reason without language” (Aristotle). He believed that the intention and meaning behind the words said were no less essential to the fundamentality of language itself. The great Greek philosopher also made mention of this rudimentary fact: “The relationship between written and spoken words are conventional, as is the relationship between spoken words and the mental state evoked by these words”. His final consensus was that language is necessary in order for man to be classified as a “rational animal” and that we as a species are more valuable as a whole because man alone possess coherent speech.
For this reason, it shouldn’t be too far of a stretch to say that language is what made the development of civilizations feasible. Because language is the only true means to forming and storing notions — or really any cognitive process — keeping record of reality ,or even fantasy, and exchanging them in the sometimes chaotic process of human discourse, it would make sense that it is and was the baseline for the formation of civilized advancement . In addition, language is inherently social in its essence and hence completely and utterly intertwined and connected with people, users and creators just the same. It expands and evolves together with the maturing of a society and as Yosef Stalin once stated, “It arises and develops with the rise and development of a society. It dies when society dies. Apart from society there is no language.” (Stalin). Comparatively, another important Russian figure, Vladamir Lenin viewed language as such: ‘Language is the most important means of human intercourse. Unity of language and it’s unimpeded development form one of the most important conditions for genuinely free and extensive commercial intercourse appropriate to modern capitalism, for a free and broad grouping of the population in all its separate classes” (Lenin).
Furthermore, when language is considered as a means of definition and conveyance, any sound which surpasses the lips gains great importance, given it is able to be comprehended by persons outside of the person uttering the words themselves. In this case, the individual then is decidedly the chief variable in the development of language. Upon further research, I discovered R.L. Varshney, and in his book An Introduction Text book of Linguistics and Phonetics he defined language in this way: “Language is the ‘species-specific’ and ‘species-uniform’ possession of man” (Varshney 13). He too went on to regard it as God’s “special gift to mankind” (Varshney). The art of tongues is omnipresent. It is ever present in ideas and ideals, in hopes and dreams, in prayers and hymns, in relation and communication, in ceremonies and rituals. Aside from the fact that language is able to be used as a sort of storage unit of comprehension, it is a device of cognition in addition to happiness. Language quells excess, useless, timorous verve in a few, governs movement in the alternate, and passess knowledge from one individual to the next, and tangentially, from one generation to the following.
All intricacies of language are in possession of a specific system of arrangement. The symbols of the homosapien language are limited, but they have the ability to be arranged and rearranged endlessly. This would mean that humans can create an infinite set of sentences with only a finite set of “rules”. Language is the structured configuration and categorization of linguistic elements which allow for the correlation of words and their meanings. Each tongue, as a result, can be said to be a unique system suitable for conveying communications within its own framework and consequently, definition having very little direct physical relation to the meaning or functions which it entails.
This concept became overwhelmingly clear when venturing into other languages outside of English. Though this idea is still evident in our modern day lingua franca, for me, as someone who grew up on English, I couldn’t have truly appreciated it without comparing against other languages. The means by which we express ourselves may be tied to a single word or phrase or sentence, but the meaning behind what we’re saying can, and often does surpass what that word or those words could possibly entail.
This in grand summation, is the simple reason why the instrumental tool of language is so vital. We as humans are all naturally inclined to attempt to leave are mark or share our sorrows or tell funny stories or any number of seemingly trivial or even grandiose things we may do, but without the use of language any efforts to do our miniscule or grand tasks would be futile. Sure, we may not yet have a way to fully convey the entirety of what we feel, though with language at least the door is open. We have some sort of means.
In a world with quite literally billions upon billions of people, we are required to not only have, but value language… I believe that if it were taken away tomorrow, the human race wouldn’t last more than a couple months. We would revert to being primitive, mass anarchy would ensue, countries would collapse, and mania would become a daunting reality.
We have been blessed with a gift and we would do well to appreciate it. We have a responsibility to appreciate it, because as we all know- things that are taken for granted often have a habit of causing issues down the road. We have a responsibility to future generations to have record of us now for the same reasons we wanted records of ancient Egypt and Rome and Greece. We have a responsibility to ourselves at the end of the day. Imagine having your voice forever silenced – that is what absence of language would look and feel like. A horror no man, no woman, no person should have to endure.
The importance, or even love of language is not white or black or even gray. Language is solidary. It is not a rainbow or a color wheel or a gradient, but all colors simultaneously and that is only a facet of its loveliness.
In closing, this tool of everyday life deserves the utmost respect and should be coveted just as much as love or life or happiness or any other great human necessity. It should be regarded as a means of survival for all the reasons explained right here and millions more out there. Language should be revered and admired and cherished and valued as much by you as it clearly is by me. And should you ever doubt it’s legitimacy, please, I challenge you to go a week without using it; it might just drive you mad. No, there is no room for question, language is without a doubt, forever, the most essential device ever accomplished and that ever will be.