Evolution of Languages; A Universal Language?

There is no doubt that every single language in the world has evolved, and will evolve in the future. We discussed this in class, but I would like to bring this up again in the blog because I did not mention this in class. (I thought it would be easier to understand this on screen).

English Language

The English language has seen an enourmous amount of change over the last millenium, probably more so than any other language due to its widespread use in world. We should begin at the addition of words into the English International language. I am not sure which dictionary is the most widely used one in the world, but in recent years, dictionaries such as the OXFORD Ditionary has accepted new words into their list of words. There is an informal article talking about this development: http://writinghood.com/style/new-cool-words-added-to-oxford-english-dictionary/. However, one of the other things that I found intriguing was the fact that what we call “The English Language” can vary in terms of spelling and usage of certain words in different parts of the world.

Evolution of Simplified Chinese

Simplified Chinese has had many words added to the language over the past century, mainly due to globalisation. However, what strikes me when we look at the differences between the evolution of Chinese and of English is that for English, you either simplify the word, create a new word, or use an acronym. For Chinese, there are so many reasons and ways to form words. During the TOK class time, someone stated that the new words in Chinese resemble that of the English word in terms of how it sounds. I applaud that observation, because indeed, words like “INTEL” (company name) and “英特尔” (ying te er)  or Hewlett-Packard and ”惠普“ (hui pu) do sound similar. However, this is only one of the reasons for their diction.

Obviously, companies like INTEL and HP would spend a ton of money to market their brand in China, but sounds are not the only reason they choose particular words. 2 years ago during summer I went around researching the Chinese Names of different countries and companies in the world, and I concluded that while the English languages made up new words than only represent the company, in Chinese, the word not only sounds like the English counterpart, it also has an implicit messages that define the company/country: INTEL’s chinese name 英特尔 (ying te er) translates to “outstanding and unique” and HP’s 惠普(hui pu) translates to “affordable and excellent quality”. To add to that, every single country in the world would have a chinese name that reflects positively on the country, and possibly a similar sounding word to the Enlish counterpart. To name a few:

  • 中国 (Country at the Center)
  • 美国 (Beautiful Country)
  • 新加坡 (A new addition, direct translation of 坡 is bank)
  • 加拿大 (Country that owns lots of land)
  • 以色列 (Country with many races)

There are other intepretations of the chinese words, but these are probably the most common ones.
Therefore languages do evolve over time, but the addition of new words in a language may vary in methods and reasons for its additions, depending on what language we are examining.

Still, one of the topics that I like to talk about is whether or not the introduction of a universal language is possible. This could be through integrating a commonly used language into every society in the world (such as English International or Chinese), or it could be a completely new one. We would have to take into account the effect of implementing a new universal language on every region in the world. Also, could this be the final stage of globalisation? Please do tell me what you think in the comments.

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