Bonding Over Languages | A Note on Learning Foreign & Local Languages
It really does not matter how grammatically correct your sentences initially are, as long as they communicate the intention of the sender and are understood by the recipient in the desired matter. It is the effort that is very much appreciated. – Sarah Berry*
Communication is not about ‘Me’, it is about ‘We’. It is not just about the reversal of a single letter in the word, but understanding the fact that communication is vital in today’s globalised world, where the meaning of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ or the ‘World is a Family’ holds ever-increasing importance.
Though communication is mainly of two types – verbal and non-verbal, verbal communication finds more usage in our modern world through the medium of languages. The quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “He who knows no foreign languages, knows nothing of his own” emphasises the need to explore the learning of at least one language is commonly offered and opted for in most schools in India and also abroad.
Personal and/or professional reasons are two domains that serve a plethora of reasons for learning a new language. As famously quoted “The limits of your language are the limits of your world”. Learning a language does not only limit itself to grammar, vocabulary, spelling and so on but open doors to a whole new world through the understanding of the culture of the country, whose language is being learned, thereby expanding horizons. As someone said, “One language sets you in the corridor of life, two languages open every door on the way”.
The above also holds true for professionals. Not only does knowing a language enhance your career prospects by bridging the gap with other cultures, it also serves as a stepping stone, especially in the field of diplomacy. Nelson Mandela rightfully said, “If you talk to a man in the language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to is the heart.”
Arthur Mattli, Ambassador, who served as the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Switzerland in India a few years back, sums it up aptly – “During their assignments abroad, diplomats often learn the basics of the languages of their residing host countries, if foreign to them. The lesson for that investment in time and effort is not to impress people with their candid communication skills, but to understand the fundamentals of a culture and its people through their language, its vocabulary structure, and often its unique script.”
He adds,”Such investment is not only rewarded with intimate insights into a foreign culture, respect by the host country officials and the people, but it will benefit in the building bridges between nations, which is the central subject of any diplomatic mission.”
He concludes with a very valid point – “I don’t want to miss either the fine sense of humour or wisdom, which are often beautifully wrapped in a local language.”
Besides the above, physiological studies have found that speaking two or more languages serves as an advantage for the cognitive process, enhancing multitasking, memory and perception.
It really does not matter how grammatically correct your sentences initially are, as long as they communicate the intention of the sender and are understood by the recipient in the desired matter. It is the effort that is very much appreciated.
Being brought up in a multicultural environment, I grew up with three languages – English, Hindi & German. Besides these Punjabi & Sanskrit were taught in school. It was a challenge but also an opportunity, which I grabbed with both hands. Not only made it make me expand my horizons, but also incorporate the various insights into my life.
Motivation is the crux of learning a new language. Of course, the practice of a language, on a regular basis, is vital. As a Czech proverb rightfully says, “As many languages as you know, as many times you are a human being.”
*Sarah Berry has over 20 years of diverse professional experience in fields such as teaching and Public Diplomacy. She also writes Poems and paints.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team