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I work in a library, so you can rightly assume I am interested in language and the written word.

Books are a drop of ink added to someone’s thoughts – and if you enjoy reading or writing – that ink is like a drug. I’ve been addicted since I was 7 years old. Some of my very best childhood memories are being read to by my Mother and summer-time trips to the bookmobile when school was out.

Through literature, we learn facts we never knew, we feel the emotions of others, we share experiences common to humans in all their variety.

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We are our words.

Though we don’t all speak the same language, when we write something down, we are creating a tool that can be used to unlock what we are saying so that others can understand.

No one really knows how or when humans began to use language. There are two opposing views:

1.  The Discontinuity Theory – which says that a single chance mutation occurred in one individual about 100,000 years ago which triggered an “instantaneous” emergence of the language faculty. [Kind of like the “Big Bang” theory of how the Universe was created.]

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2.  The Continuity Theory – which sees language as something that is innate in humans and that came about in a gradual way as a socially used tool. Some say the spoken word evolved from the human capacity for song! CLICK ON LINK BELOW

We do know that Sumerian (Spoken in southern Mesopotamia, now called Iraq) is the oldest WRITTEN language and it dates from the 4th century BC.

Currently, there are approximately 6,000 spoken languages in the world, but only about 80 of them can be classified as being primary WRITTEN languages! How can that be? Well, the main reason for language diversity in the first place, is because communities in remote locations were isolated from each other.

HERE ARE SOME SAMPLES OF ANCIENT TEXTS

Sanskrit
Sanskrit
greek
Greek

With the development of satellite TV’s radios, the Internet and mobile phones – all infiltrating even the most secluded areas – there are very few humans today That are not in communication with other people and places. Usually, whatever Language is the most dominant nationally, is the one that is written and taught In the schools.

Therefore, while people may still speak their private tongue at home, they will begin to use the dominant language for their written and verbal daily communications with others. After a couple of generations, ethnic languages disappear simply because they are not being used by, or taught to, those younger.

LINK to article about Quileute Indians of Washington state who are LOSING their language.

The six “official” languages of the United Nations

RUSSIAN

ARABIC

CHINESE

ENGLISH

FRENCH

SPANISH

LINK teaching the Quileute language online.

Below is a graph of the top 10 languages used on the Internet per millions of users

English

Chinese

Spanish

Japanese

Portuguese

German

Arabic

French

Russian

Korean

536.3

444.9

153.3

99.1

82.5

75.2

65.4

59.8

69.7

39.4

All the rest of the world=350.6 million

LINK to Jacob Black speaking Quileute in the Twilight movie “New Moon”

gauginsjournal 

Gauguin’s Journal (In French of course)

I predict that in the future we will all be using one common language worldwide.

What a tragic loss! We will finally be able to understand each other, but the great tapestry of words that each culture has woven over the years; the ONE thing that was created by its own people that made it distinct from everyone else, will be gone. And once gone, lost forever. No translation – however precise – will be able to convey the emotions of a poem in exactly the way it was originally written.

SEE EXAMPLE BELOW:

wms

As originally written by William Carlos Williams

This is Just to Say

I have eaten

The plums

That were in

The icebox

And which

You were probably

Saving

For breakfast

Forgive me

They were delicious

So sweet

And so cold

 

cookie
Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster

COOKIE-MONSTER’S TRANSLATION WOULD BE LIKE THIS:

Me Telling You

This just to say Me eat the cookies

in the cookie jar

Maybe you saving for snack time?

Me sorry. They delicious!

So yummy and om nom nom

 

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Poetry

Even if you can’t understand another language, the beauty of it in both it’s oral and written

form is still something you can appreciate. Look at these examples:

The Language of POETRY

ENGLISH

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost

SPANISH

Dos caminos se bifurcaban en un bosque, y yo- / Yo tomé el menos transitado, / Y eso ha hecho toda la diferencia.” El camino no tomado – Robert Frost

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ENGLISH

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. / I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight / For the ends of being and ideal grace.”   How Do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett

FRENCH

“Comment puis-je t’aime? Permettez-moi de compter les façons. / Je t’aime à la profondeur et la largeur et la hauteur / Mon âmepeut atteindre, quand on se sent hors de la vue / Pour les fins d’être et de grâce idéale.”Comment puis-je t’aime?- Elizabeth Barrett

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ENGLISH

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure-dome decree / Where Alph, the sacred river, ran / Through caverns measureless to man / Down to a sunless sea.” Kubla Khan, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

CHINESE (with English Characters)

“Zài shìwàitáoyuán zuò hū bì liè/ A fùlì tánghuáng de huānlè qiú fǎlìng/zài nǎlǐ de ALPH, shénshèng de héliú, yùnxíng/rén/xià yīgè méiyǒu yángguāng de dàhǎi wúliàng tōngguò róngdòng. Sāi móu ěr·tàilēi·kē lēi lǜ zhì de “hū bì liè”

CHINESE (with Chinese Characters)

世外桃源做忽必烈/ A丽堂皇的欢乐球法令/在哪里的ALPH,神圣的河流,运行//下一个没有阳光的大海无量通过溶洞。塞缪尔·泰勒·柯勒律治的忽必

Look at how delicate the CHINESE script is above. It’s like some beautiful art!

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ENGLISH

“O, my Luve’s like a red, red rose, / That’s newly sprung in June. / O, my Luve’s like the melodie / That’s sweetly played in tune.” A Red, Red Rose, Robert Burns

IRISH

O, Tá moLuve cosúil le dearg, d’ardaigh dearg, /Sin sprung nuai mí an Mheithimh. / O, tá mo Luve cosúil leis an melodie/ Sin a bhíbinn i dtiúin.” A Dearg, Dearg Rose, Robert Burns

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Literature

The Language of BOOKS

  • ENGLISH: Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the riverbank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book’, thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversation?’ Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
  • RUSSIAN (with English alphabet)

Elis nachinayet poluchat’ ochen’ ustala sidet’ yeye sestroy na beregu reki , i ot nechego delat’: odin ili dva raza ona zaglyanula v knigu yeye sestra chitala , no eto ne bylo kartinok, ni razgovorov v nem, i to, chto yavlyayetsya ispol’zovaniyeknigi ” , podumala Alisa , ” bez kartinok ili razgovor ? Priklyucheniya Alisy v strane chudes, L’yuis Kerroll

RUSSIAN (using Russian Alphabet)

Элис начинает получать очень устала сидеть ее сестрой на берегу реки, и от нечего делать: один или два разаона заглянула в книгу ее сестра читала, но это не было картинок, ни разговоровв нем, и то, чтоявляется использование книги “, подумала Алиса,” без картинокили разговор? Приключения Алисы в стране чудес, ЛьюисКэрролл

The Russian Alphabet is so pretty!

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Or this one:

ENGLISH:

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all

before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into

it, if you want to know the truth.” The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger.

ARABIC:

إذا كنت تريد حقا أن نسمع عن ذلك، فإن أول شيء عليك ربما تريد أن تعرف أين ولدت، وما هو رديء مثل طفولتي، وكيف احتلتوالدي وجميع قبلكان لديهم لي، وكل ما ديفيد كوبرفيلد النوع من حماقة، ولكنني لا أشعر الخوض في ذلك، إذا كنت تريد أن تعرف الحقيقة. الماسك في راي من قبلJ.D.سالينغر.

Who knew what Catcher in the Rye looked like when written in Arabic? Or even that it had been translated into Arabic? Since it has, then it must mean that they are reading it!

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ENGLISH “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

ITALIAN

E ‘una verità universalmente riconosciuta che uno scapolo in possesso di una buona

fortuna debba essere in cerca di una moglie. Orgoglioe pregiudizio di Jane Austen

The very English sentiments of Jane Austin translate beautifully into Italian.

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Now for some Shakespear

ENGLISH

 “Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

GERMAN

Zwei Häuser, beide gleich an Würde, In Fair Verona,wo wir legen unsere Szene, Von den alten Groll Pause, um neue Meuterei Wo zivilen Blutmacht zivile Händeunrein. Romeo und Julia von William Shakespeare

When you see English words translated into German side by side you can almost understand German even if you don’t speak it!

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Are the LINKS below the future of language? Let’s hope not!

LINK to article about how cursive writing is no longer being taught in school!

LINK to article about how texting is changing us.

LINK to list of Text Messaging Jargon

Runes from The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

hobbit

Dinosaur Language from Dinotopia

dinotopia

I love languages! I love how we have evolved differently, even though we are all one people.

It would be a shame to lose our diversities altogether. Our differences are what make us interesting!

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