Essay About Language Importance

Knowing language is a need for every human on the planet, but why? So we can talk, discuss, and express feelings? Yes, however language exists for more than just basic communication. Language shapes our thinking in many ways, and those languages are what give us perspective on the world.

Language works in many ways to shape the way each and every one of us think. One way language shapes the way we think is it shapes the sounds we make. In English, the German sound 'ΓΌ' does not exist, and in German the English sound 'w' does not exist. Not only does that change the way our words sound, it also changes sound effects that we make. To describe the sound a dog makes in English, one would most likely say 'woof' or 'bark', but in German they would say 'wau' (pronounced "vau"). This seemingly small difference still changes the way we process everyday noises, shaping the way we think. On a deeper level, language gives us an automatic bias by using loaded words. Loaded words are words with connotations that are meant to bring forth emotion. When people think of the word 'man' some descriptors that come into their heads would be strong, large, tough, etc. When people think of the word 'woman' they might describe one as pretty, kind, sweet, dainty, etc. Words can be loaded and reloaded, as shown in the writing "Indian Education" by Sherman Alexie. When one thinks of the word 'doctor' they most likely think of an educated white male. Alexie reloaded that word by describing himself, a fourth grade Indian male, with it. He envisioned himself as a doctor and called himself "Doctor Victor" (Alexie). Knowing more languages can open up more loaded and reloaded words, and it can also allow us to gain knowledge.

The more languages we know, the more knowledge and perspective on the world we have. Everyday more and more people learn popular languages such as English, French, Spanish, and so on; however, everyday native languages continue to die off with the last person who speaks them. When these languages die off, the world loses elements of perspective and knowledge that comes with knowing that language. Imagine if English were to die off and never resurrect. The number of poems, essays, stories, knowledge lost would be detrimental to society and be extremely difficult to recover from. For years upon years we would be finding out "new" information without knowing that people before us had already discovered it, written it down, and talked about it. Though the native languages dying today are not nearly as widespoken as English is, we still lose knowledge and perspective that comes with that language. Additionally, it is important to understand that people who speak more/other languages than you see the world differently than you do. Every language has an element to it that sets it apart from the rest, whether it be sounds or the way we perceive directions ("How Language Shapes the Way We Think" TED talk by Lera Boroditsky). Understanding this concept may cause a want, or even a need, to learn more languages to gain perspective and knowledge.

When it comes to language, ignorance is not bliss. The more we can learn from our native language and others around the world, the more we can understand about how it works. I learned that English has automatically biased words in it, as do many other languages, that words loaded with negative connotations are used casually everyday, and that I am a perfect example of some ignorant person who uses these words. To better our society, it is important to attempt to reload these words with positive connotations and understand that being fluent in one language does not show all perspectives of the world.


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