The Mezzofanti Guild Language Learning Made Simple

Global Homogeneity Has Made The World Boring And Ruined Adventure


 
In today’s (rather dark and nefarious-looking) video, I share something I’ve been reflecting on for quite a while as a new parent which has made me increasingly sad the more I realize it.

Here it is:

We are at a point in history where we have discovered literally every place, people and culture on this earth.

This is really the first time in human history that we can honestly say we’ve dominated every corner of our planet. We can look at any square inch of ground in any country on any continent at any time of the day with a simple swipe of our finger (e.g. Google Maps).

Nothing is new anymore.

Think about that for a moment.

Even for people growing up just a few decades ago there was at least some sense of awe and wonder about remote places and people. There was an appreciation of the “otherness” of what lies beyond our own boundaries.

I just don’t know if my son’s generation and onward will ever fully experience that. No child in future will ever aspire to discover the unknown because there is no unknown (space excluded obviously).

Technology has made a guy living in a remote town far away no different to the guy living down the street.

 

The implications for language learning and cultural immersion

Those who favor this trajectory believe that it’s helping cultural and linguistic diversity.

In fact, the complete opposite is true.

The more the world becomes interconnected, the more homogeneous and boring we all start to become.

The world becomes dull.

In the video above, I ask the question:

“How will this affect language learning decades from now?”

I think this is a really important and relevant question to start asking.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

Comments

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  1. Thanks for the interesting post.

    When travelling seeing I’ve seen how speaking English can impact someone’s life – evidently economically. But, I’ve thought about this for some other reasons.

    How the culture and politics are informed and exchanged via English (e.g. US hegemony to Latin America) more easierly now via the internet.

    Will the learning of English, or another lingua franca ( perhaps Spanish and/ or Chinese) remain the prerequisite for speakers of other languages, or will instantaneous translation enable such speakers to have more agency ( & to cheaply and quickly communicate) not to defer to learning a major language, unless for a select few who need to finesse grammatically the language without computer aids?

  2. I don’t think it’s primarily the fact that the world is more ‘interconnected’ that cultures are becoming more homogeneous and languages are dying out. It’s not primarily English that is killing most of the world’s languages (except of course in places like Canada, Australia and the US), it’s mostly the official or ‘national’ languages of each nation-state. In that sense I think it has to do with the distribution of power, state policy and the different levels of prestige attached to each culture that is primarily causing this.

    You are an Australian — you’re then aware of Arnhem Land, where people regularly speak an upward of three languages and have as far as we know done so for centuries. These communities have long been in contact with each other but somehow they haven’t assimilated each other despite the cross-pollination. Why is that?

    1. I don’t disagree. Interconnectedness is not a natural phenomenon – it’s very much engineered.

      Re: your question on the indigenous: people all around the world throughout history have naturally resisted “cross-pollination” and still do. You can be in direct contact or indeed, right beside another group without that group exerting influence, power or change over your own group.

    2. I didn’t say that indigenous people resisted cross-pollination – in fact, I said the exact opposite. In any case the last sentence of your response is exactly what I was getting at: two groups can be ‘interconnected’ without one assimilating the other.

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