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The Tower Of Babel

The Tower Of Babel

When my mother was in high school, many decades ago, she was compelled to learn Latin. By the time of my own high school years—also long ago—Latin was no longer compulsory, but it was still offered.

What’s the point? It’s a dead language. Where on this earth can you go where Latin is spoken? What peace treaties or other negotiations that will dial down world conflict are going to be worked out in Latin? What books are being written in that language?

I read somewhere that someone had translated WINNIE THE POOH into Latin, but what’s the point? How many people can actually read it?

We have enough trouble getting along in this world without there being a language barrier, but what’s the point in studying a language no one speaks?

There have been several attempts over the years—none successful—to devise a universal language with which we all could communicate, and in which, as a side benefit, books could be written that everyone could read. Most notable of these was Esperanto, which had its heyday yet was by no means successful. If any books were published in Esperanto, I’m not aware of them.

It’s too bad we can’t all speak the same language, even if that language is a second language for each of us. But there are plenty of people who don’t even speak their native tongue properly. Look at all the English-speaking people who say “ain’t” or “He don’t.” My own grandmother, though far from illiterate, still commited the “She don’t” faux pas.

We don’t even all have the same alphabet. Japan, Russia, Israel, Korea, and Greece—to name just five—each use a different alphabet than we do and from each other.

I wish the effort to teach a universal second language, be it Esperanto or otherwise, had succeeded. We’d have to double the size of our libraries to hold all the books in Esperanto in addition to all the English editions, but we’d be reading books by wonderful foreign authors who’d never been translated into English.

And we might edge a few steps closer to attaining world peace.

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