Sunday, December 9


All my life I never thought linguistics will become my career choice. It has become so. I am a Translator. This path makes me greatly appreciate languages. The schooling system I came from doesn't explore Latin or Spanish or the French languages, we are simply equipped with out mother tongue and a few other local languages. We evidently speak more languages that we can write. We sometimes can read some languages but cant speak them or write them. The question is, are words and written languages more important than spoken language? Will we ever be able to say that it's enough to understand what is being said rather than learning to write it and explore the literature that serves as a backbone for such languages.

Because the dynamics of words are changing, the short form SMS lingo is slowly invading our daily transactions. Then there are abstract words, and also Languages that don't have their own scripts. I pity these languages, they are like words without souls. They are more prone to abstract translations than any language with scripts. That's why Tamil translations are so hard to scrutinize and correct during the Quality Assurance process compared to lets say the Malay language. Dravidian and Indic languages have scripts, evolving slowly over thousands of years but SEA languages use the English alpha. And I see languages from South East Asia, such as Bahasa Indonesia borrowing heavily from English which evidently should give them a bigger usage platform than other languages but they are not.

Here lies the conundrum, this simply means that why have a sentence with some English words if you can simply speak and write in English altogether. This proves that English is the true domain of the future, for the purpose of communicating and communicating ideas, our ideals are best defined in English first, mother tongue second and borrowed languages third. Translation is a tour De force, an intriguing journey into the realm of information dissemination, but I am still learning. What interests me most is the future of languages and how it will evolve to catch up with the fast forward world. Will there be a language singularity someday or has it already happened? And what will happen to this borrowed languages?

[#] A new series into Languages and Linguistics.
[+] If there will be a Technological Singularity, will there be a Language singularity?
[+] Linguistics


Alok said...

very well put bro .... as it is I am a fan of the way u write prose, essays and documentary .. they have smooth flow and absolutely flawless editing which ensures that the articles are not a drag on ..

I think we already have reached a common language platform and tht is English .... It is good that we have been able to achieve something tht we have all wanted for the past century and on the other hand it is sad that it has happened at the cost of 'the language of the land'.

A good background in English has become such a critical issue these days that even the Chinese are carrying on wide spread drive to teach / learn English but then come to think of it there is a huge 'opportunity cost' tht is involved in a single earth single lingo concept. and the opportunity cost is the slow but steady decline of local languages (which perhaps are far richer than English) ... sighs


Ponnarasi Kothandaraman said...

Insightful post..

Very true.. English is the only language that we can possibly think of as a common language. But at the same time it makes oneself wonder about the state of our own native languages.
Honestly i feel J about english taking control round the globe.

Cinderella. said...

You reminded me of '1984' by George Orwell...where he talks of world where totalitarianism is really total.Where all the world power has been divided into roughly 3 groups - Eastasia, Oceania & Eurasia.

Somehow it feels as if we are fast approaching that sort of a totalitarianism with our lingua franca first.....with english ruling us all...coz as the world proceeds even the humans find shame in admitting to what region they actually belong...masking their authenticity by ignoring their mother tongues and devoting themselves to the slavery of the universal language.
Learning something new is good..but that doesnt mean, I will loose myself in it so much so that I dont wanna get back to what I am and where I belong....

Miladysa said...

A very interesting and thought provoking post.

What is English? I know very little but understand that the widely spoken English of today does not have one root but many i.e. Anglo Saxon, Celtic, French, Germanic, Norse, Latin etc.

Native English speakers such as myself also have different dialects i.e. Lancashire, Yorkshire, etc. If people here in the UK addressed each other in dialect they would hardly understand one another.

As well as dialects we also have our 'native' languages such as Welsh, Gaelic, Scots etc.

Our 'English' dialects are dying out and at the same time we have/are gaining millions of words from other languages i.e.
Bungalow, Pyjamas etc. from India.

So I think that 'English' is/has always been a pot pourri of many languages and is probably more an international rather than cultural one.

Keshi said...

Im a polyglot u see ;-)


Pauline said...

Articles have been written on languages lost. Many countries speak multi languages and blend their own dialect within their communities. Some depth of meaning can be lost through translation. I would hope people would expand their capabilities in order to communicate yet at the same time hold on to their roots and heritage for it is in this that we hold our identity and lineage. Why must it be one or the other? Thanks for a great post :)

Ghost Particle said...

[alok] bro u r being too kind...critic me (sometimes :P). I agree with you, we may have finally cracked the language usage ceiling, so to say that we have reached a common wisdom in communication. But what i see is that there are emerging markets for mother tongue 'marketing', or localization of English contents to suit the local market. this may well prove that while the singularity is already reached, it doesn't hold true in a economic viewpoint.

And i agree with you, our heritage is language based, when the local language dies, so does the culture. But in the term of China, they are accepting the rushing future, and they believe culture is dispensable for the sake of the economy. Maybe it is the prevalent communist ideals of China.

Culture has always been cherished by migrants, and NR's. I hope to see a positive evolution of language, to user the imminent evolution of human culture.

[pons] i understand your feelings, but we did not force English to become this, rather it is an easy language to learn. And to some extent, the colonial history of our countries made us master this language...for the good. Thx pons.

[cindy] //coz as the world proceeds even the humans find shame in admitting to what region they actually belong...masking their authenticity by ignoring their mother tongues and devoting themselves to the slavery of the universal language.// this is a true premise in our world. It is shameful for people not to acknowledge their mother tongue, I will always converse in Tamil to other Tamils as long as it doesnt alienate the other non-Tamil company. But for life, I wont ditch my mother tongue for the sake of class or the modern culture. If only everyone would teach this to their children. We are living in a global village, and atleast we understand each other to agree. Maybe we can change this for the better. Thx Cindy, hugs.

[miladysa] a great insight into the partitions of the English language. Many users always think that it is one universal language, but being a Liverpool FC fan myself, i know that no one would understand the scouse tongue with it all the while being English! I am a great fan of the Queens English, the flawless representation of language with soul, rather than commercialism. The dynamics of English, now thats a new line to research into. Thanx so my Mil, hugs!

[Keshi] how would we speak to each other? in machine is true in some sense. Hugs!

[pauline] true what you said, we strive to create balance in many fields, but the first the Asian parents teach their children is english, which will slowly diminish their own language. English is easy enough to be learned, rich enough to be explored culturally like what Miladysa said. And certainly we cal all learn from each others language as well. Thx Pauline...hugs!

Karthi said...

>> our ideals are best defined in English first, mother tongue second and borrowed languages third.

Beg to differ here. whether it is written or spoken, one can express true essence of ones thoughts only in his/her native tongue only.

Expressing in other language cannot even come close.

Ghost Particle said...

[karthi] i understand. in a world view, English will seek for a wider dominance. and by ideals i wanted to mean the ideas to change the world. that should be the main ideal...somehow i have mistakenly reduced mother tongue to a culture viewpoint only. we will see, we will see. You know I appreciate Tamil more than anything. Thx bro.

Mandeep Gill said...

I love this post. i actually tried to comment here sometime back about the Indonesian language.

This may be slightly irrelevent but ya know, formal Ind. language is almost same as Malaysian language but the spoken language is a psycho cocktail of street slang + new generation terms + Sundanese + Javanese that bascially its got almost nothing in common with BM.

If you don't speak in their slang they might not understand you.

Staccato is a perfect term for this language. THIS here is Indonesian language.

Ghost Particle said...

Staccato it is...detached. But they do sound like they're fighting when they talk Indonesian.

I sometimes out of greediness will want to translate Indonesian, it is hard at first, then i noticed only a handful of government, official terms are very different. The others are basically, like u said,BM! heh...

Spoken language is much more naturalized to the locale because of easiness...the reason why many are expert speakers and not writers .

but u kno one Malay language we can never understand is the Kelantan is hard.


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