Tim Truzy is a poet, short-story author, and he is currently working on several novels.
Speaking of Language: Alive or Dying
Languages have a life cycle of their own. For example, in a recent article I read in a newspaper, a report discussed the death of a Peruvian language. The story centered around a man, the last speaker of his native language, who was devastated By the loss of All of his tribal members due to changes in their environment which had occurred over the last fifty years. Yet, he shared the basics of the dying tongue for a scientist who recorded the conversation.
My mind recalled Latin, Mother-tongue of many languages. I pondered what it may have been like to be the last speaker of that language in a conversational manner. Certainly, there are Latin Catholic masses. Most medical terms, and the legal profession, have foundational parts of words traced back to Latin. However, the tongue of the Romans primarily lives on paper.
By contrast, English is vibrant and healthy. It is the “business” tongue of the globe. It changes and the vocabulary is always expanding. This poem is dedicated to those who have helped keep our languages of today healthy. This dedication includes: Spanish instructors, Mandarin teachers, and all of the language educators of our planet. In addition, I thank Ms. White, my high school English and Literature teacher. I also offer a special thanks to the poet and English teacher who writes on this site, Lora Hollings, for continuing the important work of keeping our language alive and thriving. I've also encountered three poets on this site, Venus Marizta, Kshipra Pal, and Thomas Hooker, who also come up with creative ways to express thoughts and ideas in moving poetic works. Enjoy: “Language Resurrection.” If you find the words to do so, please leave comments.
Language container of youthful stories,
Words borders of chapters turned and closed hands,
Contents spilled and spelled memorials,
For each typed or uttered shackled sentence.
Language nailed painting walls colorful souls,
Melting through reshaping vain items anew,
Another tale another history,
Blurred phrases blurted phases all renewed.
Even hands off – Kings’ nails scratch, scrape, and sue,
At my desk diplomas heated degrees,
Encircling my tongue to speak with ease,
“Write this right. Keep quiet those real fables.
Smile with the elite furnishing tables.”
Language still knows a place to seek and slide,
Puppy pit bull someday to rise,
Petted, panting, playing with the Kings’ wolves,
Loving and leading that mightiest pack,
Libraries books carried in my back sack,
Words finding pages refuse to go back,
I’ve always avoided those sidewalk cracks,
Parents taught me always best way to act.
Kings have been overthrown I’ve heard, stranger,
Mouths have many tongues and kingdoms to please,
Vocabulary invested our bond,
Articulation robust our need.
Colleges collecting long lost speech,
Carbon tombs my ancestors’ voice imaged stilled,
Play back with lasers foreign people sounds,
Fossilized phonics fancy funerals.
Reading an epitaph silence confused,
“When ideas need expressing language rescues,
Words retire to those dictionaries,
Rising again with shapes skinny or fat.”
Just a hiatus? A soft vacation?
Temporary shelter from fixed station,
To be awakened to our loud throats,
To say things once hidden in dusty moat.
My Savior spoke fluent Aramaic,
His cherished voice alive and clear in books,
Noise of words change while meaning still remains,
Evolve and revolve can’t dissolve His reach.
To kiss the lips of those longing for more,
Hip-hop blasting English born dialect,
I’m certain His Word resides somewhere there,
Even songs beyond my comprehension.
Interesting Facts About Languages Today
- In order to understand how many people speak a particular language, several factors must be considered. Primarily, various sources may give different estimates. Also, there is no set definition as to what constitutes mastery of a second language. In addition, there is debate as to what is a “dialect” or represents a “language.” Even the numbers of native speakers of a particular language may be questionable.
- There are approximately 400 million Native English speakers. But nearly 1.5 billion people speak the English language across the globe. Mandarin Chinese is the second most spoken language on the planet according to some sources. However, depending on the source, the order of the most spoken languages in the world are in this order: Mandarin, Spanish, English, and Hindi. Arabic is another popular language. French is the sixth most popular language. Some scholars believe the use of French will expand, particularly, in Africa.
- Although there are approximately seven thousand languages on Earth, nearly half of them are spoken by small numbers of people. These groups are usually no more than three thousand people in size. For example, the Hawaiian language has stabilized at about one thousand speakers, but it is vulnerable to vanishing. Some fast fading languages include: Njerep, Liki, and Sarcee. Indeed, every continent on the planet where humans live have a language on the verge of extinction. To examine whether a language is endanger of becoming extinct, age distribution is pivotal among the users of the tongue compared to the actual number of speakers of the language. Scientists estimate nearly half of the languages today will be extinct in a century.
- The shortest sentence in the English language is: I am. 25% of the world’s population speak English. To read a Chinese newspaper, a minimum of two thousand characters must be known by the reader. The written Chinese language has fifty thousand characters. On the continent of Africa, some languages are composed of “clicks.” These are known as Khoisan languages.
Lists of endangered languages – Wikipedia. Retrieved October 6, 2018, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_endangered_languages
List of languages by total number of speakers – Wikipedia. Retrieved October 6, 2018, from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_languages_by_total_number_of_speakers
© 2018 Tim Truzy