Translating from one language to another can pose real problems when the sentiment of one cannot be accurately expressed in the other- certain perceptions and notions can be specific to a language and its speakers and a linguistic equivalent may not even exist. An example of this would be the Romanian word Dor which ‘expresses the longing for a loved one, with implied sadness and the need to sing sad songs’, exemplifying how a language can affect the way in which its speaker experiences the world around them via the vocabulary at their disposal. It is for this reason, among others, that linguistic groups strive to protect their language.
The French are famous for the fierce protection of their language through the body that is L’Académie francaise, established in 1635 which attends to all matters concerning the French language. Currently, it is swimming against the tide of anglicisms slipping into the French language from all angles. It has reached the point that 2014 has been dedicated to the reconquête de la langue français. They are fighting back against ‘hashtags’ and the like and providing an authentic French alternative in a desperate linguistic preservation attempt, #mot-dièse.
But the French are not the only ones waging a war against linguistic impurities. The Chinese have embarked upon a similar project responding to the fact that their language now has over 200 English loan words in their dictionary.
Languages are dynamic structures and are constantly in a process of subtle change though efforts to protect them are not without reason. On average, a language dies every two weeks and it is predicted that by the end of the century, half of the worlds 6,700 languages will cease to exist without the implementation of urgent efforts to protect minority languages and dialects. It is therefore vitally important that language and linguistic diversity is protected. This is particularly true for the minority languages most at risk as language is what maintains distinct social groups and communities in the face of marginalisation and globalisation. The world may use English as a conduit of communication but to neglect a language is to neglect a culture, an identity and a community.