Language is part of one society’s culture and identity. It is the way in which people communicate. It is a complex system, yet it is open to evolution, modification and innovation. It is something that has been transmitted in so many ways, either graphically, kinetically or orally.
Language varies across generations, education levels, ethnic and religious groups, class and regions. It has a hand in how others interact and perceive individuals.
What a mouthful! Looking at the other side of things, does it really matter what language you are speaking at this very moment? Somehow, even with the difference in language, people still manage to communicate, with the biggest example – music. Even if you do not understand the lyrics of a foreign song, you can still enjoy it. It is the beat, the melody and the rhythm that evoke different feelings, directly communicating and affecting the listeners.
Take for example two of South Korea’s major exports, the country’s dramas and music. Yes, the dramas are subtitled in different languages, and yet, if the persons doing the subtitling do not have a full grasp of the Korean language, the context, the deeper meaning and the ethos are lost. Of course we can say that as long as the foreign audience understand the flow of the story and the dialogue that will be fine. The same is true with their music. Popular female and male pop groups from South Korea are doing world tours, delighting audiences and making them scream, wave light sticks and banners and sing along. You see fans pronouncing the Korean words, although it will not be difficult to say that the fans memorized the words, but do not understand them at all. Does this fact take away from them enjoying the performance? Definitely not! Do the fans mind that they do not understand what they are saying when they spend moments to talk to them in Korean even without a translator? Of course not, for they even respond and shout.
With the easy access to all forms of communication, from mobile phones, to Internet connectivity, to social media interactions, people from all over the globe manage to communicate in their own, or in different languages. You will notice a lot of informal language teaching exchanges over at social media sites – friends and virtual acquaintances teaching each other words and phrases in their own language. It breaks the language barrier without conforming to a norm.
We cannot veer away from the fact that language is very important in our daily lives. Yes, we can communicate, whether you are speaking the same language or not, but still, language is what makes us talk to each other, to be understood, to be recognized. In a more formal setting, trained and professional language translators play a major role in helping each other understand, whether they use one common language or translate what’s spoken into different languages.
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