The Universal Language

Imagine a world where every person speaks the same language and has the same vocabulary. A  world where everyone can not only understand each other but also gather their potential in the same effort and build something together. This is an idea so utopic that science fiction also likes to explore it in some general terms as seen in the movie Arrival. I’d say we don’t need a perfect language per se though but perhaps simply something everyone can speak and understand.

This language could be any of the existing ones though it’d be clever, if we have to choose one now, to pick it based on several desirable characteristics one would expect from a Universal Language:

  • Learnability: Steady learning curve, easy to get started and also to become fluent;
  • Efficiency: Should not take long to express ideas on it or to understand what is read or heard;
  • Clarity: Constructions in the language should be relatively clear on its intentions;
  • Expandability: Easy to create extensions like new words or structures. Also known as the power of Freedom;
  • Popularity: As we are picking an existing language we should also consider how many people are already fluent on it.

If we think about this in the context of actual human-communication languages, we seem to be naturally adopting English as the universal language for now. I guess this choice is pretty obvious, but I guess the reasons for it considering the proposed system would be mainly it’s compromise between learnability and efficiency which made it become as popular as it is today instead of French for example.

Perhaps English has become the current Universal Language because French was a bit harder to learn? I’m not a speaker of both myself but it does feel like French has a lot of extra nuances that can pose extra difficulty for the ideal learning curve I idealized. French is much more artistic as well, I’d say, which takes us closer to another interesting type of language I’d like to talk about. We can stop thinking about spoken languages and think about this concept in a much broader perspective. The perspective of communicating ideas instead of words. A bit like one would have to explain about the Egyptian hieroglyphs or Japanese kanjis for your regular Western citizen.

In this perspective I believe no one could immediately deny the idea that music can someway be considered what we are referring to be the Universal Language itself. Everyone can understand music. Be it brazilian Funk or Bossa Nova, american Jazz, Hip Hop or Techno, european, israeli or indian Trance, portuguese Fado or even tribal Chants or pop music, no one can deny that music has the power of transmitting all kinds of emotions or feelings which can even take people into a trance-like state if they are really open for listening to and actually feeling it. Even music with no lyrics at all are capable of transmitting emotions. You might reject or disgust at some kinds of emotions represented but they are being expressed and absorbed anyway and that is what communication and language are, after all.

We could also expand the idea from music and say it’s actually all kind of art but I believe there are some types of art which can’t be really appreciated without some previous study or elucidation on what each element really means. Winery is a fine example of this. Painting and sculptures are more like music as they normally take a physical form that can be understood by most as well, though for abstract forms of those we’re back to the same blockage for feeling it.

Music thus seems more magical in this sense as even taking an abstract form everyone is in some way able to welcome and enjoy it for what it really is. This is what makes it so wonderful.

I initially wanted to write this and take it into a Computer Engineering perspective, talking about how JavaScript should be the One True Language with Node and React as its loyal companions, though after having blocked my creativity on this and thinking about it for a few weeks I realized it was much greater than that!

Some credits to Gol airlines who has provided me a sufficiently isolated space to allow me to finish this text.

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