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The Tragedy of Dying Languages

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One global issue of great concern to me is the alarming rate of language death happening in the world today. It’s estimated that half of the world’s 6000 living languages will be extinct in the next 50 years, many with little to no record of their vocabularies, grammar, or potential for expression. I deeply love and am fascinated by language as it forms the vital medium for clear and direct communication at all levels. Without it there is no science, no politics, no philosophy or religion, virtually no art, and no substantial form of education. Every natural language carries with it some thousands of years of cultural history with it, shaping it as a unique lens to frame life and new experiences. Each of these lenses gives us a new view, a new angle to approach problems of the world or to be more creative. These languages are the backbone of unique indigenous culture, and indeed, one cannot separate language from culture itself. The death of a language is the effective death of a culture and the reduction of human diversity. This being at such a time where humanity is more capable of learning from one another than ever before is one of the greatest unspoken tragedies of modern man.

Coming from a multicultural background and having a diverse group of friends at a young age brought me to early consideration of the differences between cultures, and this only grew as I learned about religions and world history in high school. Having now traveled the world a bit and spent a great deal of time studying languages, I have learned just to how great an extent psychology and philosophy can be shaped by language. Language has long been considered the cornerstone of humankind and it has the potential to elevate us to unimaginable heights in the arts, sciences, and philosophy. Such an incredible tool is remarkable in its own regard but with a huge array of different such tools at our disposal, and for the sake of the over-all well-being of humanity such diversity must be maintained and promoted to make the world that much richer and more beautiful.

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The Meaning of Communication

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Life is a combination of sensory experience and creative myths and metaphors around the complex and biotic organizations of sensory experiences. Beyond lucid clarity and awareness this is what makes up conscious experience. Every mental object amounts to a myth or metaphor of an aspect of objective, physical existence. Language, at the broadest level, is any attempted representation of a mental object, event, or phenomena–itself being a representation of some aspect of physical existence (thus making language “representation of representation”).

As soon as there is an effort to communicate through art or language (including math), there is the attempt at engaging two or more consciousnesses into an act of temporary union. This union through the sharing of experiences is the root of all forms of communication between organisms, and it is the purest form of connection that we can achieve in this world at this point. Communication, including language and art, is therefore the most basic expression of the human will, for it is the will that drives us away from the suffering of disconnection and towards the contentment of its opposite.

Here is the underlying force which pulls life inexorably onwards. It is why, when a person is drawn into connection with their senses and inanimate objects, it is the highest symptom of an illness of the will or spirit. Whether brought about from the person’s community or the person themself, they have failed to attain the necessary degree of connection with other living things to allow them to thrive in contentment as a living, conscious organism. A will wasted on sensory experience is an ill; the cure is pure connection to other conscious beings through the myth and metaphor of lucid experience.