Against Homogenisation

Foreign languages are alternative ways of thinking

In recent days, a few media outlets have mentioned the amusing The Meaning of Tingo. It is a compendium of words from other languages that name rather specific or complicated concepts, that have no English counterpart. My favourite is Backpfeifengesicht, “A face that cries out for a fist in it.”

The preservation of languages is the first front in the battle against homogenisation. People who speak in a different way also think in a subtly different way too. For example, there is a real conceptual difference between “I had a dream” and the French “J’ai fait un reve” (which means “I made a dream”).

We need these alternative ways of thinking, in politics and art. They can remind us that things may not always be what we preceive them to be, and they can help us solve problems.

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