Could English 'Kill' Other Languages?
At the recent TEDx conference in Beirut, Lebanon, activist Suzanne Talhouk delivered a speech, the first in Arabic at a TED conference. In it, she pleads with the gathered academics and creatives to not abandon their native language. She points out that language is not just a collection of words, but an expression of culture, one of the things that can make a group of people truly unique when compared to others. Talhouk worries that English is effortlessly becoming the world's default language, and sees English's invasion of Lebanese and Arabic culture as harmful to the rich history of the Lebanese people.
Around the world, billions of people are learning English, sometimes at the expense of learning the nuances and unique attributes of their native tongue. The meteoric rise of the United States and Western culture in general has made English into not just a way to get ahead in the world, but in some cases, it seems to many to be the only way to lead themselves out of the poverty or instability of their home country. Talhouk sees this spread of English in favor of one's native tongue as a cultural homogenization, a true loss that, in the end, makes everyone worse off.
In literature, works translated into English are read widely around the world. But, once translated, does a book lose some part of its author's original intent? Is English killing other languages?
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