Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Language: It’s influence in viewing the World

What is Language?

Language is the tool through which we express our thoughts, views, opinions, feelings. We can also define language as a system for communicating our wishes and desires. To be able to speak in more than one language is very important in today’s world scenario. Globalization has made it necessary that one should consider learning more than one language to become successful in any perspective. For the very reason, today one can find various professional translation services that help in language translation and imparts the knowledge of the language. 

Role of Language in Human Life

Language plays a vital role in the development of human identity. We live in a linguistic world that is we carry the whole world in our minds through language. Nothing gives us more joy than to express ourselves in a language, just as Frantz Fanon recognized that being able to name the world around in one’s own words provides the individual with a sense of possession, a sense of belonging. (“The Emperor’s New Words: Language and Colonization” by David Gonzalez Nieto).

Language and Our World View

 Language affects and influences our view of how the world is: The debate on this topic is an ongoing process. Many consider language as a mere tool of communication. But others also consider language for understanding culture which in turn influences one’s view of the world. ‘Language influences our thoughts’, was brought forward by the well-known linguists Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf, through their hypothesis known as “Theory of Linguistic Relativism”. According to Whorf, “language is more than just a communication tool - language determines our perception of reality”. Though this was just a hypothesis, but it cannot be wholly denied that the language has no influence over our view of the world. Some aspects through which the difference is created are discussed below:

   Firstly, if we talk about Indian languages, be it Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, Gujarati or Tamil, each has a distinct name for the relatives. To take the example in Hindi, we have a mama, mami, chacha, chachi and the list goes on. Whereas if we compare it with the English language we find that they have only one category for such relations uncle and aunt. We have a broad categorisation which shows our relations are closer than theirs. And this shapes our view of relationships.

    Secondly, we know concept of time is similar for everyone. But in a research, it has been discovered that our approach to financial and economic matters depends on time. Languages such as English, Spanish, Hindi, have grammars which distinguished between past, present and future. While some other languages like Chinese uses the same to describe actions at different times. This creates a difference in our view as the languages which can differentiate the time can behold the time more closely. They can surely plan something concrete for the future as they have definite terms.

    Thirdly, while giving directions we mostly keep our physical body at the centre and describe its right and left or front and back for recognising the directions. But some languages do not use ‘left’, ‘right’ like the Australian Aborigines. They are more specific with their directions, such as north-east and south-western. They use north, south, east and west for which they have a better sense of directions. It is seen that such people could understand the directions more promptly.

    Fourthly, language can also influence our perception of colour. In Indian languages or English, German, colours are given names like red, green, blue and so on. But in some languages like Japanese blue and green are considered as the shade of same colour. Again, in Russian language, they don’t have a single name of the colours like ours. Suppose, if we say that “the sky is blue”, they will be more specific about the colour of the sky, “the sky is light blue”. Speakers of such languages are more specific about the shades of the colour than the other language speakers.

    Fifthly, if we talk about the articles of gender in English for human are ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ and inanimate objects have no gender. Whereas in Hindi, inanimate objects like chair also can be termed as animate by saying ‘kursi khadi hai’, terming it as feminine gender. Similarly, ‘kapada’ ‘chasma’ are masculine. Thus, attaching emotions with inanimate objects.


Thus, different language has different sets of grammar and vocabulary which affects our viewing of the world. However, to say that our perception completely depends upon the language solely will also be not correct. But it helps in building a habit, belief, customs which makes us acceptable in the world, in our society. Therefore, to be able to translate one language into another while keeping the essence like that of the native language is very difficult. This is where the professional translation services are required for language translation, which will assure no miscommunication while dealing with a global audience.