According to linguist and political thinker Noam Chomsky, “A language is not just words. It is a culture, a tradition, the unification of a community, an entire history that creates what a community is. Everything is embodied in a language “. So, could we have a universal, global language that unifies and represents all of us? Given the diversity of human life, would it even be possible? The Proto-Indo-European may have come close to it, and then the Hellenic Koinè, then Latin. What about CHTML or Python? After all, computers talk to each other using 1 and 0 regardless of the language used to program them, and are spread across the globe. Whatever the language used, it seems that the desire for some form of universal languageis identified as the way around the translation process one by one. The idea of a bridge (a koinè language) that connects a certain number of languages, understandable to a large population, has indeed a strong appeal, especially when one of the objectives of globalization is multilingual communication in real time. In today’s networked world, does the idea of a universal language make sense?
Language has many functions. We don’t have a universal means of communicating with each other simply because we don’t have a universal topic to discuss, we have millions of them. This is excellent news for translators and localizers. Perhaps they are not as good for those who hope that computer-aided translations will become a magic wand for communication between cultures. Still, the idea persists with a growing appreciation of what characterizes a global community, is still an idea under consideration. When Latin fell into disuse in the post-Renaissance world of European letters, many thinkers sought to replace its ability to express all kinds of subjects in a widely understandable form. Mathematicians Rene Descartes and Gottfried Leibniz attempted to formulate a way to build a language capable of expressing conceptual thoughts. In England, John Wilkins, among others, sought to facilitate commercial communications between international scholars by using a system of “real characters”, symbols which constituted a lingua franca.
In 2001, Professor Abram de Swaan of the University of Amsterdam described in his book “Words of the World: The Global Language System” how power and language are connected in the community global. His achievements as a social scientist allowed him to describe in detail how a multilingual world can also be described in hierarchical terms that show the unequal field in which languages compete for domination. In its model, English occupies the “hypercentral” position, while other languages exist more widely in positions from central to peripheral. In the translation community, we work in this arena on a daily basis. There have been critics of de Swaan’s ideas in the academic community,