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Research – Elc

Names: Denise de Kort, Elena van de Gevel, Lisa Klessens, Lotje Momberg,
Nanette Panhuizen & Riddhi Garg
Class: Ta3b
Subject: English Language & Culture
Teacher: Miss Ellse
Main question:
Why isn’t there one universal language instead of the many languages there
are at the moment?

Sub questions:
1. What is a universal language?
2. Have there been universal languages before?
3. Would one universal language really be an ideal situation?
4. Will we have one universal language in the future?

Content:
Hypothesis…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………...3
What is a universal language?................................................................................................4,5
Have there been Universal languages before?....................................................................6,7,8
Would one universal language really be an ideal situation?................................................9,10
Will we have one universal language in the future?...........................................................11,12
Main question……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..13
Data bank……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………14
Task division………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..15

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Hypothesis

In our opinion, we don’t think that there is going to be one universal language. This is
because language is a big part of the culture. It gives you identity. It makes who you are.
People will hold onto that thought. Who are they really when there is only one universal
language? Humans aspire to have their own distinct identities and form different groups.
The second aspect is that the tendency for languages is too diverse. For example, in the early
days, English was spoken another way. Take as an example how Shakespeare’s plays were
written. You really see the different use in English than it is used nowadays. This changes in
language cause new languages to develop.
Some people might think that one universal language would be a clever idea just because it’s
easy. But we have already tried to make a universal language before, Esperanto. The fact
that we aren’t speaking Esperanto nowadays, clearly shows us the language was a failed
attempt.

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What is a universal language?

There are many different answers for this question, it may refer to a hypothetical or a
language used in history and that is understood by a big part (or even all) of the world’s
population. But you can also answer it by saying it’s a means of communication which is
understood by all living things, beings and objects alike. It is also possible to explain ‘a
universal language’ as if it’s a way of communication between two groups who don’t speak
the same primary language. A universal language is the communication solution for people
with different primary languages. In other conceptions, it is possible that the ‘universal
language’ is the primary language of multiple
groups, this makes it a universal language. In some
religious and mythological traditions it shows that
there was once a single universal language among
all the population of the world. Which would make
it very easy to communicate and live together.

Another possible answer to the question: ‘what is a


universal language?’ is that it can be a language
spoken by a large group. Take as an example: the Arabic language. In the Islam the language
of the Qur’an is the Arabic language. This makes the Arabic language the universal language
of the Muslims. Also all texts in the Koran are written in this language. There are more of
those situations in which a language turns into a universal language. It’s possible as well that
within the universal language there are some differences in the pronunciation, but the base
of the language is for everyone the same. But one language can also split up, like the
classical Chinese language is now spread over a big part of Asia and the created new
languages such as Japanese or Korean.

If you search for the definition of the words universal language


you get;
1. An auxiliary language that is used and understood
everywhere
2. Any kind of expression that is used and understood
everywhere.
So a universal language does not need to be spoken as long as
everyone can understand it. Also an important thing for a
language to be universal is that it needs to be understood everywhere.

So a universal language does not need to be spoken, so actually there are already some
universal languages, or “languages” that come close to a universal language.

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Like face expressions, gestures, hobo sings/code, emoticons, sign language, music,
mathematics or programming languages.
Overall the languages without words have the same meaning. And
everyone knows what you mean when you point at something. But
there are still some differences within these languages. For example
the sign language. The ok-sign (forming a circle with your thumb and
index finger) means that something is good. But in Turkey this means
something totally different. There you insult someone by making the
ok-sign or you call someone a faggot. So even though those languages
do not even need words, still some misunderstandings will arise.

There are multiple universal languages that need to be spoken. They were created by
linguists, priests or even a photographer. They can be very old, but some are also from the
last century. A lot of effort was put in “the universal language”, but they all failed to be
spoken nowadays by all people.

Sources:
 https://www.definitions.net/definition/UNIVERSAL+LANGUAGE
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_language
 https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto
 https://www.quora.com/Why-cant-the-world-have-a-universal-language
 https://www.quora.com/What-does-universal-language-mean
 https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/1528793/Why-There-SHOULDN-T-Be-a-
Universal-Language
 https://www.businessinsider.com/why-there-wont-be-a-universal-language-2014-
7?international=true&r=US&IR=T
 https://youtu.be/qLwCq8_SzLA
 https://www.toptennetz./10-types-communication-closest-universal-language.php

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Have there been universal languages before?

Failed attempts
There have been a lot of attempts to create a universal language and not all of them
succeeded. However this doesn’t influence their importance in our modern world.
Blissymbols
Charles K. Bliss has developed a communication system that was designed as a written
universal language. Charles was working in Shanghai as a photographer and filmmaker. He
became fascinated by the Chinese symbols and decided he wanted to make a slightly more
scientific version of this. He called it Blissymbols. The symbols are representing objects like
cars or houses but also they represent ideas for example the mind. The symbols are very
easy to draw and this should communication make more effectively. The Blissymbols never
became international but they were used in the 1970s and the mid-1980s by some people.
Volapük
Volapük is an art language. It was developed in the years 1879-1880 by Johann Martin
Schleyer. He was a catholic priest in Germany. It is mainly based on English but also bits of
German, Latin and French. The name of the language means “world language”. Volapük
spread through the middle class very rapidly and for one decade it was super popular with
more than one hundred thousand users around the world. The success of Volapük gradually
came to an end after the appearance of Esperanto in 1887. Nowadays the language is only
spoken by a few. Volapük has been, after Esperanto, the second most successful universal
language in history.
Solresol
Solresol is a musical language made in 1817 by the Frenchman Jean François Sudre. The
language had considerable popularity for some time, but it peaked in 1902. The language is
based of solfège. This is the art of identifying musical tones relative to each other. It can be
spoken, written, whistled, sung and played. Here are only seven syllables in the language.
They correspond to the seven notes of the diatonic scale: do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si. But this
allowed only 2660 different words which is quite less than natural languages.
Ithkuil
Ithkuil is an artificial language, created between 1978 and 2011, developed by John Quijada.
He was inspired by Esperanto. Ithkuil is a mix of a philosophical and a logical language. It is
designed to transfer large amounts of linguistic information using less words than in natural
languages. Therefor also the sentences are very short in Ithkuil. Both vowels and consonants
appear, the tone can change and the language makes use of prefixes, suffixes and inserts.
There are 17 vowels and 65 consonants based on various languages. The words can be
difficult to pronounce.

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Esperanto

Although there have been multiple attempt at creating a universal language, Esperanto is
probably the most successful and famous one.

General Information
Esperanto was designed by the Polish linguist Ludwik Lejzer
Zamenhof. At first he didn’t intend on calling it Esperanto, he
simply referred to it as ‘the international language’. It were the
early speakers who became fond of the modern name. Ludwik
designed it from the idea that everyone, in addition to his or her
own regional and national language, learns Esperanto to be able
to communicate with each other easily at an international level.
Esperanto didn’t just come to existence like many other
languages, it was specifically designed for a certain purpose,
which is why it is called a ‘planned’ language.
Because it is relatively easy to learn and use compared to other
languages, it is an introduction to learn other, more difficult
languages.
Esperanto is a language that is not tied to a specific area, race or nation. It is politically
neutral. The language is owned by no one and accessible by everybody.

Fundamento de Esperanto
Fundamento de Esperanto or, Foundation of Esperanto, is a book published in 1905. In the
book, Zamenhof explains the basic vocabulary and grammar rules that form the base of
Esperanto. The Declaration of Boulogne officially made it the only obligatory authority for
the language that same year. The Fundamento is written in five different languages: French,
English, German, Russian and Polish.

The grow of Esperanto


Esperanto grew mainly in the 20th century. Both as a language and a linguistic community.
Which some might say is strange, considering the Nazi regime and the soviet Union ruled by
Stalin. Despite speakers facing persecution, Esperanto speakers continued to establish
organizations and publish periodicals. Esperanto periodicals played a major role in the
Esperanto movement. It was the only practical way the language could be used between
conferenced and the periodicals were tailored to specific regions and interests.

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Geography and Demography
Most Esperanto speaker are located in East Asia
and Europe. Especially within the Northern and
central parts of Europe, as can be seen on the
map.

Research has shown that the popularity of


Esperanto tends to be higher in richer countries
with widespread internet access. Also, 1. Location map of the Esperanto association members
because these countries seem to contribute
more to science and culture. Even linguistic diversity within a country was found to have a
slight inverse correlation with Esperanto popularity.

Sources:
o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volap%C3%BCk
o https://www.britannica.com/topic/Volapuk
o http://www.blissymbolics.org/
o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blissymbols
o https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0078n3eVV8
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solresol
o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ithkuil
o http://www.ithkuil.net/
o https://www.trouw.nl/home/wie-spreekt-er-eigenlijk-nog-esperanto-~a44b9324/
o http://www.esperanto-jongeren.nl/?m=15
o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto
o https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_language
o https://www.toptenz.net/10-types-communication-closest-universal-language.php
o https://www.mpi.nl/q-a/questions-and-answers/why-is-english-the-universal-
language

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Would one universal language really be an ideal situation?

There are approximately 7.5 billion people


on earth and there are about 7000
languages on the planet. But what if we
could change that? What if we could
create one global language that all 7.5
billion people could speak? Would our life
be better?
If we look at the aspect of human collaboration this idea of a single language is great
because it means that everyone is able to communicate with one another easily. However
this also means that making decisions becomes harder because everyone has their own
opinions and they wouldn’t hesitate to share their opinions with the rest of the world if they
spoke the same language which can lead to social problems.
Language is not only how we express ourselves but it also affects how we view the world. So
if we were to eliminate the separate languages from all countries and keep only one, it
wouldn’t just mean that a language has disappeared, it would also mean that each country
would lose its unique history, culture, perspective, and identity along with its individual
language.
After we learn to talk, language becomes a major aspect of who we are. It’s how we relate to
the world, and it’s how we were able to leave the caves and build civilizations. It’s a huge
part of our collective identity and our individual identity, and has a very powerful effect on
how we think.
So the question we all need to be thinking about is that if we all spoke the same language,
wouldn’t we all begin to see the world in the same way? And is that really the life we want?

English or Dutch as the universal language


English is, by some, already perceived as the universal language. This is mainly due to the
former influences from the British empire, and due to the current influences from America in
the world. Which is why changing it to an actual universal language wouldn’t change the
situation as much as for example making
Dutch the universal language. The Netherlands
has definitely had influences in various
countries apart from its own, especially in the
age of colonization, but not that much on
languages. Of course, there can only be
speculated what would have happened if the
Netherlands remained its power and Dutch
would be the present-day universal language.

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Let’s say everybody would suddenly start speaking Dutch to each other, this would cause
past languages to fade away and history to be forgotten. This would also be a problem with
English of course, but not such a big one because English has had a much bigger grip on
history than Dutch.
Other consequences of making Dutch the universal language would be the fact that you’d
have thousands of different ways the language is being spoken. Let’s say complete China
would learn Dutch, the difference in sound would be pretty large compared to people born
into the Dutch language. These different sounds would develop and might eventually form
various accents that aren’t understandable for others anymore. This is the same case with
turning English in the universal language. But less due to the fact that English Is generally
more common and more people know how the words should be pronounced. So to
conclude, it wouldn’t be a smart idea to turn either English or Dutch into the universal
languages because of drastic consequences that come along. The effects would be terrible
with English, but straight up catastrophic with Dutch.

Sources:
o https://www.quora.com/What-would-the-features-of-the-ideal-universal-language-
be-except-the-number-of-people-knowing-it
o https://unbabel.com/blog/world-that-speaks-the-same-language/

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Will we have one universal language in the future?

In the current situation, English is the world’s dominant language. But is this going to stay
forever this way? Now around 572 million people speak English but if you compare it to
other languages such as Chinese or Hindu it is remarkable that those two languages are
more spoken. So why is English still the dominant language? This is because the Chinese
dialects combined already have more native speakers than any other language, followed by
Hindi and Urdu, which have the same
linguistic origins in northern India. So
the big question is: ‘’Which languages
will dominate the future and will we
have a universal language?’’ Also, an
important aspect of this research is
what the definition is of a dominant
language.
How can a language become dominant?
What is a dominant language? A dominant language is usually a language that is spoken in
large amounts, that means that the country itself has a large population or it is spread to
other countries. Another important factor is the most powerful countries. For example, take
England it has a lot of trade and technology. These are all the important factors for a
language to become dominant.
Which languages will dominate the future?
There are a few ways to answer this question but we will first look at the important factors
that cause a future universal language.
1. Which trading countries become popular? This is a very important question to ask because
now the big trading markets are England and America (English speaking countries). This can
change for example there are a lot of MNC’s located in China, India, The Philippines etc. It is
much easier for the MNC’s to speak their employee's native language so that they easily can
communicate. Now, this is the other way around because in India most of the people speak
English but in China, there aren’t many. So the trading language can change in the future
from English to for example Chinese.
2. Which languages are spoken and spread the most? This is important because if you want
to speak to as many people as possible it is useful to look at the use of languages in
countries. For example, German is spoken in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, some parts of
Italy and Belgium. This means that many people speak German and if this also happens with
other languages such as English it is likely to become a dominant language.
All these factors combined, the languages Chinese and Hindi will play huge roles in the
languages that will dominate in the future.

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Will we have one universal language in the future?
In this paragraph, we discussed al the important factors for a language to become a
dominant/universal language. If we look at all these factors it is likely for a universal
language to develop/exist. But if we look at all these factors again it seems to be that the
universal language is already an existent language, for example, Chinese and Hindi. If we
look in the aspect of identity there shall not be a universal language. Because language is a
big part of culture and identity. It makes who you are and people tend to cling to these
feelings.

Sources:
o https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/24/the-future-of-
language/?utm_term=.7de0bbf67b04
o https://www.translatemedia.com/translation-blog/english-continue-dominant-
global-language/
o https://www.flexword.de/which-languages-will-dominate-the-future/
o https://ltc-english.com/will-english-become-the-universal-language-of-the-future/
o https://www.businessinsider.com/why-there-wont-be-a-universal-language-2014-
7?international=true&r=US&IR=T

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Main question
To answer the question, ‘Why don’t we have one universal language instead of the many
languages we have today?’, let’s recap what we discussed in the sub-questions.
Summarized answers to the sub-questions:
o What is a universal language?
- An auxiliary language that is used and understood everywhere
- Any kind of expression that is used and understood everywhere.
o Have there been universal languages before?
There have been many attempts on an auxiliary language for everyone. The most
successful attempt being Esperanto.

o Would one universal language really be an ideal situation?


It would make sharing information easier, but it is debatable whether it makes
communication with others easier. One language could lead to social problems.
Above that, language make a big part of people’s culture and identity. One universal
language would take that what makes languages unique away.

o How can a language become dominant?


The factors for a language to become dominant are: it is spoken in large amounts, it
is spread to other countries and it is a powerful country.

o Will we have one universal language in the future?


It is likely for a universal language to develop/exist. But it seems to be that the
universal language is already an existent language, for example, Chinese and Hindi. If
we look in the aspect of identity there shall not be a universal language. Because
language is a big part of culture and identity. If an assumption had to be made about
possible languages that could dominate the future, you would probably come to the
conclusion that Chinese and Hindi will play a big role in the future due to their
importance in the global trade.
If we look at the answers above, we can conclude that we actually do have a universal
language. Just not one we all speak. For example Chemistry, mathematics and music could
be seen as universal languages. From past attempts we can predict that a planned lingual
universal language would probably fail. Modern languages play too big of a part in modern
cultures. Although English is a world language, it is not a universal language. Chinese is in all
likelihood going to play a big role in the future.

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Data Bank:
- https://rudhar.com/lingtics/intrlnga/homophon/suggesti/1904en.stm
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_language
- https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esperanto
- http://ttt.esperanto.org/us/USEJ/world/index.html
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bB4_B2b36D4
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=079myzI9xj0
- https://www.businessinsider.com/why-there-wont-be-a-universal-language-2014-
7?international=true&r=US&IR=T
- https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ezpvx4/why-humans-dont-have-a-universal-
language
- https://www.quora.com/Why-cant-the-world-have-a-universal-language
- https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/1528793/Why-There-SHOULDN-T-Be-a-Universal-
Language
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SlOwS58R0g
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJWVOkdWQAs
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzDS2WyemBI
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fpl8D8Ns2Vg
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bLx5hLag6WQ
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1J3zT9cJvEs
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqDFPU9YeQM
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9KDg9JGRs7c
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KztctvSveEI
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUU8pLEk6nk
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzu8d8sOUGU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmy6ldalm94
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kg8jS-AMyMo
- http://science.sciencemag.org/content/303/5662/1329
- https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/24/the-future-of-
language/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.b7d029fa96d3
- https://www.daytranslations.com/blog/2018/10/languages-of-the-future-what-will-the-
world-speak-12580/
- https://www.quora.com/Which-language-will-be-%E2%80%9Cthe-language-of-the-
world%E2%80%9D-in-future
- https://ltc-english.com/will-english-become-the-universal-language-of-the-future/
- https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/60033/in-the-future-around-year-2500-
will-only-one-language-exist-on-earth
- https://www.forbes.com/sites/pascalemmanuelgobry/2014/03/21/want-to-know-the-
language-of-the-future-the-data-suggests-it-could-be-french/
- https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/6248058/What-Language-Will-the-World-Speak-in-
2115
- https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/ezpvx4/why-humans-dont-have-a-universal-
language

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Task Division

Persons: Tasks:
Elena Hypothesis, sub-question 4, main question
Denise Hypothesis, sub-question 1
Lisa Hypothesis, sub-question 2, main question, document
Lotje Hypothesis, sub-question 2
Nanette Hypothesis, sub question 1
Riddhi Hypothesis, sub-question 3

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