Why English Should Not Be The International Language Of The World

When I was younger I didn’t like languages. In school, I hated Irish and thought it was a complete waste of time. Why bother learning it when everyone spoke English? In fact what’s the use of any other language when it’s obvious that English is the international language? This view is very common among English native speakers and to a certain extent it’s true. English is one of the most spoken languages in the world and is by far the most common second language in the world. No matter where you travel in the world, you have a decent chance of finding an English speaker. International conferences almost always are held in English and over 90% of academic articles are published in English. So it seems like case closed, English is the global language, everyone speaks it and I should be thankful that I happen to be a native speaker. Continue reading “Why English Should Not Be The International Language Of The World”

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Response To The Criticism Of Esperanto

Something I’ve been quite interested in lately is the language of Esperanto, an invented language which aims to promote global communication through a simple, neutral and logical language. However, it is hardly the most popular of hobbies and so I am a bit shy about mentioning it. It can also provoke strong negative reactions and sniggering from some people. As an Esperanto course is currently being developed in Duolingo, a lot more people are coming in contact with Esperanto or hearing about it for the first time. A lot of them are skeptical about Esperanto. So I thought I’d make a post dealing with all the criticism of Esperanto and my response to them. Continue reading “Response To The Criticism Of Esperanto”

A Week In Esperanto Land

An Irishman, a Pole, a Russian and a Frenchman are all in a room. What language do they speak? This isn’t a riddle or a joke but what happened to me last week. You see I’m just back from spending eight days in the town of Nitra in Slovakia where I participated in the Somera Esperanto Studado (Summer Esperanto Study). So what is Esperanto like in practice? What is the Esperanto community like, what do Esperantists do when they meet and how does Esperanto function as a language? Continue reading “A Week In Esperanto Land”

A Tour Of The World Of Constructed Languages

One thing that I have been exploring over the last few weeks is the world of constructed languages. As opposed to regular languages, these did not evolve over centuries, but were rather invented by someone. I find the whole idea of creating a language with a specific aim to be fascinating and constructed languages (or conlangs for short) give us amazing freedom to explore how languages work. Even a short study of them can give us an insight into how languages like English do or do not operate. So I thought I would give a tour of the main conlangs that people do learn (excluding those that were created for TV or a book). I have included a translation of the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer) into each conlang as seems to be the standard, as well as an example of the language being spoken or song where possible. Continue reading “A Tour Of The World Of Constructed Languages”

Reading Mein Kampf

Reading Mein Kampf is a very strange experience. The book and its author are so infamous that I almost feel like I have to preface what I say with the obvious statement that I am not a Nazi. But then why would I want to read a book by one of the most evil men in history? Hitler was unlike anyone else. His vicious hatred and the horrific acts he committed are something that none of us can understand. So out of historical curiosity, I decided to try and get an insight into the mind of this dictator. How could he possibly justify his evil ideology? Continue reading “Reading Mein Kampf”

Esperanto: A Language For Everyone

(This article was originally published in the University Observer. Rather than simply reprint it, I thought I’d publish my original draft before it was edited.)

The world is divided into thousands of different languages separated from each other, each with its own culture and nationality. Everyone who has been on holiday has felt that awkward moment when you try (and usually fail) to breach the language barrier with a local. We have probably all thought how much easier life would be if there was one language that we all could all speak together. But national pride gets in the way, the English won’t learn French and the French won’t learn English, and neither will learn German. What we need is a neutral language, one that doesn’t have a past of colonialism and oppression of native languages. There is a language and it’s called Esperanto. Continue reading “Esperanto: A Language For Everyone”

History Matters

Economics is usually discussed in a vacuum devoid of any reference to history or culture. The economy is viewed as a place without a past and little distinction is made between policies implemented in Japan, Scandinavia or America. However, in reality the past shapes the future far more than we realise. The state we’re in depends hugely on the actions and events of decades or even generations earlier. Economies were not born yesterday; they are hugely shaped by what came before. In other words, history matters. Continue reading “History Matters”