According to a census taken in 2018, India with a population of 121 crore (1.21 billion) has 121 different languages spoken, where each language is spoken by at least 10,000 people as their mother tongue. That being said, 96.7% per cent population in the country have one of the 22 scheduled languages as their mother tongue.
The Eighth Schedule of the Constitution (the list of official languages recognised by the Constitution) consists of the following 22 languages:
Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Bodo, Santhali, Maithili and Dogri
If you ask me, this is still a lot of languages considering the fact that not many Indians can speak more than 2 of these languages, let alone all 22. In fact, I am fluent in only one of them (Tamil), though I can comprehend Hindi a little bit.
On the other hand, it is estimated that there are 6,500 languages spoken in the world, which is insane!
That being said, you might wonder why would someone want to take the time to learn a new language when they already know one. In fact you’ve seen YouTube videos of “Karens” in the states, shouting “we speak English in this country!” at fast-food employees. We can say that a similar environment exists in India as well, especially between the Northern and the Southern states. With such situations all over the world, why would you even want to learn a new language?
In this post I will be addressing exactly that, by going over the benefits of a learning a new language.
Note to fellow-programmers: Not talking about programming languages here, but guess it does have its similarities.
Without further ado let’s get right into the conventional 3-pointer.
1. You broaden your worldview
First on the list is something that we don’t usually think about when we learn a new language. While learning a language we usually spend a lot of time understanding the basics and the grammar of the language, which requires a lot of hard work and consistency on our part. But in addition to the language itself, we usually also end up learning about the culture of the people that speak the language, since it is a part of the language itself.
Let me give you an example. I’ve been learning German for sometime, and one of the things that I got to know from learning the basics of the language is that Germans have a high regard for order and structure. One of the things that surprised me is that when talking to a policeman in German, you are not supposed to use “du” (the informal German equivalent of you), but instead must use “Sie” (the formal German equivalent of you), and saying the wrong you could get you to thrown in jail. I’m not sure to what degree this is serious, but I’m sure that this rule does exist in Germany. But at the same time, you would expect the same when the police officer addresses you, since it is a formal context, and you would be treated with respect as an individual.
Studying cultural examples like this from other countries gives us an alternative perspective to see the world, which we might not otherwise get by sticking to our home states and our mother tongues.
2. You double down your skills in the languages that you already know
In addition to just knowing more about the world, learning a new language could also help improve your existing languages as well. This is because, at the end of the day all the languages have a certain way of communicating a message. They could have different sentence structures, or alphabets, or punctuation, or grammar, but they would still all have a subject and a predicate in them.
When you learn a new language (say Hindi) from a source language (say English), you would end up learning the English grammar better since you would be mapping concepts that you already know from the source language with the new language.
For programmers out there, you know this is true, since you would have seen yourself improve in your understanding of programming languages when you learn a new programming language.
3. You can now understand a group of people and their content which you could not do before
This heading does seem mouthful, but what it basically means is that once you learn a language, you gain intellectual use for a new set of information that was meaningless to you before, and also gain the ability to talk to a group of people who you couldn’t with before.
Although English is THE international language for most purposes, there are still quite a number of people who still don’t speak English. And even if people of some country do speak English, the language that they use for all their administrative and creative tasks usually end up being their mother tongue (Eg. Japanese, Germans, Chinese). So the only option to understand some of these creative content (say books, podcasts, movies) would be to learn the language.
And that’s the end
Learning a language — any language — is therefore a good thing that anyone in any age can indulge in, and with apps like Duolingo that make language learning free, it is easier than ever to start learning a new language today.
And I also want to take this time to thank all my readers who’ve liked and put comments on my posts, and also the people who’ve reached out to me with your own insights on the topics that I’ve been writing about.
Until next time!