My recent trip the Germany has further solidified to me how important English is as a language.
Language is a really incredible thing. It is what sets humans apart from most of the animal kingdom. Throughout our existence, we have developed language. Language allows people to share ideas and experiences and is probably one of the most important developments in the human race. With the advent of language, generations could share their knowledge with future generations.
I bring this up because language allows for communication between two individuals. It can be quite difficult to go through life without having to interact with someone. And as much as I do not enjoy interacting with people, certain scenarios require it and there’s no avoiding it.
During my trip to Munich, I was stunned when I walked into a restaurant where no one spoke a single word of English. Munich is a tourist hotspot. Visitors from all over the world visit, and there’s usually one thing in common: they all speak English. Now, let me start off by saying that I do not ask for someone to speak fluent English. But at least enough to get by. Enough to understand things like “I’d like to eat lunch here”, “I’d like to pay my bill please”, etc.
Regardless of where you come from, whether you like it or not, English is the international language. It is so important to at least speak a little bit. And learning English (despite it being ridiculously hard to learn) can take you a long way. I understand the pride that people have with their mother-tongues, but there comes a point where choosing to cling onto a language and ignore another becomes obnoxious.
On the subject of the waitress, I’m not sure whether she did not speak English, or simply chose not to speak. Regardless, you’re in the service industry, in a tourist hotspot. You need to learn to communicate with people from abroad, and as much as you may not like it, that is done in English.
There are a few other international languages out there. For example, French, Spanish, Arabic. But none can get you as far as English. I’d say the internet is partially the reason for how widespread English is nowadays. A lot of websites are in English, and the widespread availability of live chat interfaces and discussion forums have allowed the language to spread among non-native speakers.
And here’s a point I touched upon earlier. I do not ask for anyone to speak fluent English. But being able to speak just enough so that you can communicate with another individual is really important.
Let’s take the example of Germany, where people only speak German (even the road signs are in German, without any translation). Being able to speak German is going to help you in one country only, and that is Germany. The second you step out of those borders, your ability to communicate drops to zero.
Now, some people might say that I sound like an English-language fanboy. I’m actually a universal-language fanboy. I’m of the mindset that there should exist some international language that I can use to communicate with anybody on the planet. What that language is, I do not care. I’m willing to learn a new language if it means I can use it to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world.
In fact, I’m so pro universal-language, that I cringe when I hear a country has people that speaks tens of different langauges. I just see it as pointless, inefficient and a waste of time. Sometimes, I see news articles saying that X language is now dead and no one speaks it. I can’t help but thinking “good”. Language is to aid in communication. If it cannot be used to communicate, or is inefficient, it is not serving its purpose. These random languages that exist that only a dozen people speak aren’t helping our case. I’m a person that strongly believes that there should be one language used as a method of communication. If that is English, then so be it. If not, I’m willing to learn that new language, because it will certainly make my life easier.
My experiences in Munich have fortified that belief. Getting my without the help of people is certainly do-able (thanks to Google Maps and Google Translate). But I don’t believe I should be spending so long at a popular international tourist destination trying to figure out which train ticket I should be buying to get to my next stop.
So what do you think? Do you believe there should be an international language that is mandatory for everyone to speak? Let me know in the comments!