Our Diverse, Bilingual Society: A Premeditation on the Face of Tomorrow’s Future
Over the past few years, it doesn’t take much observation to recognize the US is indeed becoming more and more of a bilingual society. Despite assumptions that English is still the dominant language, it is now very common to see bilingual advertisements anywhere from your local DMV to a fast-food restaurant. In the past, society has often assumed bilingualism was a sign that one hadn’t adapted properly to American society but over time preconception have changed and science can back it up.
So what does this mean for American society? Well not much to be honest, things will continue going along the way that they always have only now with a much colorful chatter in the background. This idea of “foreign language” or “foreign people” entrenching onto society as a whole is soon going to be challenged by the reality not all people are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing.
By breaking down the barriers of language and culture society can become more inclusive and diverse. With multiple points of view being considered decisions can be made that don’t just benefit one faction of society but all of society as a whole. It’s definitely safe to say that it’s human nature to split off into groups, to surround ourselves with the safe, the familiar. This is why people have what’s essentially an attachment to their culture or religion. They have an emotional connection to it which is much stronger than any strain of rational thought. This inherent part of the human condition is within all of us and is the reason humanity builds societies and forms groups.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this, it’s simply how we are. The emergence of language and the creation of phonetic structures within different societies have been researched and explained by evolutionary anthropologists. Humans in general tend to split off into separate factions, not for any bad reason but simply because we’re wired to do so. The same can go for language. Obviously, someone would want to keep speaking the language they grew up in.
Unfortunately, one side effect of this predetermined way of thinking that we are all wired to do is of course discrimination and xenophobia. One culture finds another culture scary for some reason, they clash, and voila we’ve got another war or conflict on our hands.
The advantage of being bilingual is it allows one to bridge this gap quickly. Often times certain words or phrases can be as many put it “lost in translation”, leading any chance of reaching an impasse or a resolution far gone. Being bilingual in today’s society allows one to be able to communicate with much more people and gain a much broader perspective. It’s quite common for the first reaction to starting to learn a new language to be that of worry and fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the alien. All of this is a part of a natural response built into our DNA to prevent our ancestors from trying to cuddle a sabre tooth and getting their head ripped off. But what we need to grasp is that those days are long passed. It’s the 21st Century and the world needs its population to communicate more than ever. If anything, just imagine your bilingual self as being one of many diplomats training to unite the world into the 21st Century and hopefully into a 22ndtoo if all goes well and we’re not battling each other in epic Mad Max-style car wars (although that would be pretty cool).
Think it possible with all the bad stuff happening in the world right now communication and reconciliation are what we need most. Not walls, not fear but simply being able to hear one another’s point of view. Even if that means no cool car battles, it sounds like a pretty good outcome.