One of our favorite English linguists, David Crystal, wrote about how important language can be in uniting people of different backgrounds or beliefs. In short, Crystal said that “language is the only way in which we can really explore what those beliefs are. We can, of course, experience a country without saying a word in the local language, and have a great time, but if we want to begin to interpret what we have seen, and understand for ourselves the true uniqueness of the people and how they think, then we need to know (at least a little of) the language – or languages – in which their vision of the world is expressed. If we have no lingua franca in common, we have to rely on an interpreter or translator to make communication possible – something which works at a functional level well enough, but which distances us from the emotional realities that motivate the people. Only direct, face-to-face, one-to-one communication can make us feel we have really made contact with the way someone thinks.”
If you wish to read the full text, which we highly recommend, please visit David Crystal’s blog.