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Let us all speak one language

By Mnelisi Gasa | Feb 26, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THEY say my language, IsiZulu, is dying and I'm proud. Yes, I am proud.

THEY say my language, IsiZulu, is dying and I'm proud. Yes, I am proud.

Now, I am proud not because my language is dying, but because of what is symbolised by the death of my language.

You see, the death of my language and the death of many other languages is a symbol of unity. "How so?" many of you may ask.

It's pretty simple. If you think about it, it's something that is bound to happen if we ought to unite.

Let's think about what are commonly known in South Africa as hostels. Often in small communities like these there are people of many different ethnic groups of people, who learn to speak a common language.

This is caused by a sense of community ... a strong sense of community... where people have to interact with one another on a daily basis.

Speaking a language they all understand creates an understanding within the community, which in turn creates a strong sense of unity.

Now, I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say the world is "shrinking", and the main cause of this is technology.

As we can see today, with every invention and innovation in communication and travel technology, the world is becoming as small as the hostel community.

Technology is making it possible to have breakfast in South Africa, a meeting in the rather-controversial Zimbabwe, speak to people in numerous other countries and, to add the chilli on top, have supper in India. All this in a day.

This means that, just like people in the hostel community, the people in the global community have to interact with one another on a daily basis.

So how can we now expect the "shrinking" of the world not to have the same effect as the squashing of people into small communities such as hostels?

We need to accept that the world is becoming a very small place. In fact, it is becoming so small that there soon won't be space for 6412 languages. This explains why the majority of the world's languages are said to be on the verge of extinction.

The language with the most non-native speakers, which is well-known for being made up of a combination of languages, has over 250million non-native speakers.

It is a language that is always growing, changing and evolving to suit any generation and any country. It has on many occasions been called the easiest language to learn. This language, in which I'm addressing you right now, is English.

If you take a moment to see the side of the coin that I'm trying to show you, you will see not only the social, but also the economic advantages of having a uniform language for the global community.

The biggest one, of course, is commerce. Because the language of commerce is English, and is universal, it makes it easy for anyone to do business anywhere.

This is because the business world has acknowledged the importance of a common language.

The goal we should all work towards is to create a common, or uniform language for the global community. Much like when you create a school uniform when you need everyone to wear the same clothes because you cannot have something that suits everyone's style, tastes, or even selfish, conceited whims.

But no language has to be thrown away, because though it is crucial that we learn the uniform language of the global community, we can still speak other equally beautiful languages among those who understand them.

For example, the word "Ubuntu", which originates from Nguni, is now recognised as South African English though many South Africans seem to have forgotten the meaning of this word.

Having said all that we all have to learn English and we all have two choices.

We can either be miserable about the likely possibility that our language will not become the uniform language - or we can celebrate that mankind is beginning to speak one language, because that is a sign that mankind is uniting.

This makes me happy because I realise that though we will be strong if we stand together as our respective continents, we will be even stronger if we stand together as a global community.

lThe writer was placed third in the 2009 finals of the Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards.

He is a matriculant at the Port Shepstone High School in KwaZulu-Natal.


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