I have been the believer of the magic of languages and its ability to form better relationships ever since my childhood days, trotting along with my dad in his various transfers along the country. And being in a multi-religious, multi-linguistic country like India, where around 33 different languages and 2000 dialects are identified in usage, picking up 5-6 of them did not seem so difficult.
But the importance of languages changed from being just a mode of expression to many things as I grew older. Better friendships in teenage with people who could speak the language. At a time I was the close friend of many groups of people. My linguistic prowess showed its better features as I grew up and ventured alone in this wide world. A favour here, an easy booking there, people I found out where bound to their languages. Truly language had hidden powers, beyond the squeak of words.
As in the words of Angela Carter, Language is power, life and the instrument of culture, the instrument of domination and liberation.
So three years back when I came to Dubai, the magical land of Middle East, I was thrilled to get a chance to learn the lyrical Arabic. The Arabic language has a lyrical tilt in its words and the script just flows off the pages. A truly artistic language. I was really excited to be able catch the language on the streets so to speak and thus learn it the native way. (I had learnt all my other languages by just being in the city).
But the shock came in a few days of my being in Dubai. The shops, cabs, cleaners, workers, vendors, everyone could speak English, Chinese, Indian and Arabic. I simply didn’t get a chance to learn. So I armed myself with books and an online course to embark this learning experience. But the fun was just not there and Google just about translates everything. The technology today has made learning something new unnecessary.
As Friedrich Hebbel rightly put in perspective, “ If language had been the creation not of poetry but of logic, we should only have one.“