A texting articulation of Hamlet’s (and possibly the thespian world’s) most famous line, and an example of a certain type of globalization from a book by Robert McCrum – Globish: How the English Language Became the World’s Language.
The premise is simple: Globish – a form of English – is the “worldwide dialect of the third millennium,” the lingua franca that connects us all – from one end of the globe to the other.
Let me stop here – what do you think? Is it a massively “colonial” view? Is it the reality of the digital age? Or is there really more going on here?
Globish? One language? I know of Chinglish, Spanglish, and Henglish – to name a few hybrids – and I also know that the average person uses words from multiple languages in their everyday conversations – more and more as events like the World Cup connect us, and English is just not the language of that venue – as far as I can tell.
I also see another Web dichotomy at play here – as global as we are, that is how local we are too – something I have written about in the past. In fact, we can be almost tribal – so much so that at its worst it helps aid and abet terrorists and other nasties who can communicate in their own clannish ways, making it difficult to track and understand – and at its best, it promotes culture and history and pride.
Having said all that, I do believe there is some truth to the premise – and the book is fascinating, worth a read – and the truth is a simple one: In today’s 24/7, always-on world we do need a lingua franca – we must have some common language that allows us to communicate. As in, be able to share. As in, a common language of engagement and relationship.
Remember your Bible? The Tower of Babel?
Maybe this is another chance for the world. According to the story, the world spoke with one language but lost sight of its humanity – the punishment was their great structures collapsed as did their potential unity, as one language became many and tribalism ruled.
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.
Seems to me that there might be a message in here for us – think Babel in reverse. Maybe humility in today’s world is to acknowledge our differences as unique opportunities to create commonalities.
No need to lose one for the other, and no need to bash one for the other….
What do you think???