By Adriana Adarve – Owner of Adarve Translations
Time and again have I heard this question, aside from the usual, “Well, if you live in this country you have to speak our language.”
I can understand the frustration many people feel at not being able to communicate with other people who do not speak their language, but I also believe that the diversity of languages in the world is actually a treasure trove for all of us to enjoy.
I also believe that if we all spoke the same language, had the same way of thinking—which is highly related to language—lived with the same set of cultural values, and always used the exact same words to communicate, life would be too dull and boring an affair.
As I mentioned in my blog Frame… Shift… Reframe… Reshift, “Ever since the dawn of time, human beings have been changing, shifting, moving around… There are many reasons for this moving around of human beings and one of those reasons is simple curiosity.”
Language frames our world and our way of thinking, doing things and expressing ourselves. Language frames our perception of reality. If we all spoke the same language, then we could all be thinking in similar ways. There would not be much novelty in our world, not many new ways of framing thoughts and doing things that would feed the incessant curiosity of our brains. In other words, our thought process and the world we create with this thought process would become a daily routine, a very dull routine indeed.
This brings me back to my strong belief that the diversity of languages in the world is a wonderful treasure trove for all of us to go digging in and discovering new, magical things that will tickle our curiosity and help our brains feel alive.
Today I had the need to call Switzerland, my children’s country of origin, to ask some official questions. The person who answered the phone spoke Swiss German, but I said “hello” in French. She immediately answered me back in flawless French, and we had a very nice and interesting conversation. It is a common thing that in such a small country as Switzerland one calls a phone number, a person answers in one of the four official languages and then automatically switches to the one the caller is using in order to provide the service requested.
There is no fuss, no questions as to why everybody doesn’t speak the same language in their country, no big deal about why the responder has to switch to another language other than his or her own. No, it has been understood that language is an integral part of the culture of each and every single one of the citizens, and as thus, the different languages spoken in the country are honored and respected.
I am multilingual, or a polyglot if you prefer, and that is one of the reasons why I don’t believe we should all speak the same language and be done with it. The main reason for my belief, though, is that knowing that other people do not speak my languages opens wide the doors of my curiosity, gives me the chance to approach them, learn from them and enrich my life and the life of those around me.
When everybody doesn’t speak the same language the world becomes larger, wider, richer.
Wishing you a richer life,
Adriana Adarve, Asheville, NC
About the Author: Adriana Adarve is the owner of Adarve Translations and is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish & French), as well as pluri-cultural, multi-cultural, plurilingual and multilingual.