In other words…

Why do we communicate?

Are the only reasons which contributed to civilization development were access to water, fertile soils and good hunting areas? Or was it something more? I believe that most of the philologists will agree with me that any civilization would not developed if it wasn’t for communication. The necessity of performing collective tasks such as hunting for wild animals or building shelters forced people to develop language skills. The set of sounds and gestures transformed into a proper system that allowed sharing of emotions and instructions, which in turn guaranteed survival in the harsh conditions. Over time, when there have been fluctuations amongst different tribes, the trade became a key element that helped to develop the craft of translation.

One step further

In my opinion, thanks to those who were capable of communicating in at least two languages the cultural, economic and religious growth took place. A barter, which was gradually displaced with other forms of payment, required communication between two parties. Subsequently writing system was developed giving the opportunity to transcribe oral tradition which was earlier transmitted verbally from one generation to another. Ballads, poems and songs about customs, ceremonies and rites of a given nation were put on paper. There were translated mythologies, calendars and units of measurement. All kinds of those translations helped to open up to other communities and uniting them. Even before 6th century B.C. the ideas and concepts of the Far East, i.e. India, China or Iraq, enriched the Western regions of the world. Many medical and scientific theories but also intellectual currents of that time, authored among others by Claudius Galen or Plato, poured into Europe. Multilingualism in the Medieval Spain resulted in founding Toledo School of Translators which allowed to spread of many works of ancient philosophers and scientists in such languages as Arabic, Latin and Spanish.

Lingua Franca

Latin tied up Europe up to the modern times. It has become an universal language until the nineteenth century when French became most used amongst diplomatic and economic spheres. The World suddenly become small place due to creation of the universal language which abolished borders. Lingua Franca, as we used to call this phenomena, was a mixture of many European languages, for instance French and Italian, but with reduced inflexion and grammar. Today our lingua franca is English language. Thanks to spreading English language to all continents those people involved in further development of science; economists, businessmen, scholars and diplomats are free to communicate their ideas. However, the penetration of this language is not restricted only to science/technology/business world but also to everyday life spheres such as fashion or entertainment.

English today

In Polish companies and corporations in baby steps are introduced „Casual Fridays”, children in primary schools wear „old school” outfits and the „trendsetters” in high schools preach new style. New lingua franca soaks also through Polish entertainment world. Hordes of daredevils are running from one „casting” to another, musicians are recording „long plays”. Polish culinary world also was dominated by the new lingo, since youngsters indulge themselves with „fast-foods, chips, hamburgers and smoothies” so grown-ups fight against obesity by popularizing „slow-food, bio and organic”. The evolution of English language has an enormous impact on worldwide culture. Other European languages are also soaking English vocabulary like a sponge so most of us doesn’t even notice that we tend to use English syntax or simply making calques.

Everybody borrows

We need to remember that English language was interfusing with a broad stream during and after World War I while the last centuries infiltrated our speech with languages of neighboring countries, namely: German (szlafrok, kartofel, klejnot), Russian (barachło, gilza, kołchoz, zsyłka, zagwozdka, sputnik), French (afront, naturalista, faux pas, femme fatale , expose, etui, fin de siecle, toaleta, szal) or Hungarian (juhas, baca, dobosz, giermek, szereg, szyszak). When it comes to borrowings, some changes cannot be stopped, because those are just resultant of the progress. Nevertheless, everything needs to know their boundaries, because: is the language only a tool of communication? The tool which we daily customize to our needs? Or maybe it is something far more important than this? Is it pays off for Poles to take care of a language purity in this times when everybody is absolving themselves with a frantic pace, constant lack of time?

Let’s keep it clean

Mother tongue is a tool but the tool which primary task is to transmits national identity. The biggest issues these days are the argument of language economy, which in my opinion is overused, and a lack of proper language model and authorities in this field. The Polish usus not only disregard language norms but also believes that violating all social and behavioral rules is fashionable. One of the best examples of such behavior is Polish breakfast television. The morning anchors use sloppy, slurred speech often gesticulating too much which gives an impression of a drowning person waving for help – searching for a proper word they lose and end up using slang or vulgarisms. The lion’s share of the morning audience are women who are raising children and by watching those programs comically distort their own language which in turn is being passed to younger generation. The cure for this disease is a well-edited book. Since the budget cuts affect editing, I recommend to dust off old, forgotten collection instead of browsing supermarket bookshelves in search of another celebrity biographies.

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