Column - Killing the beauty of language

THERE are several things that differentiate humans from animals and topping the list is our capacity and capability to communicate using languages. Language and the decorum with which it is used also determine how civilised a community or the society is as we develop.

English is one of the most widely used languages in the world. Estimates suggest that around 375 million people speak English as a first language and a further 375 million speak it as a second language. The largest number of English speakers is in the United States. English has also been adopted as the official language by all major international businesses. Of the total estimated 40 million internet users, 80% use English as their medium of communication. English is the official language, or has special status, in 75 territories around the world.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the United States, the majority of the population speak English. In other countries, it is only a minority who speak English, even if it is the "official language" of that country.

We all speak with an accent and we also speak a dialect. Accent is the way we pronounce and because we all pronounce when we speak we all have an accent. Meanwhile, dialect is not only pronunciation, but also the words and grammar we use.

Standard English is the dialect normally used in writing and spoken by the most powerful and educated members of the population. What is Queen's English then? Queen's English is a well-known English accent spoken by the royal family and other members of the upper classes in the UK.

It is an accent which fascinates many non-native speakers and they try to copy the accent, some forcefully, to create a brand of superiority for themselves. The Queen's English is revered as a mark of status for oneself.

In sum, we know that language pervades social life and it is a primary vehicle by which we learn the cultural knowledge and more importantly, it is also a significant means by which we gain access to the contents of others' minds.

Now, with apology for delaying my point, a video titled " British Reporter's Epic Rant about Trump's bizarre inauguration got me totally riled and reeling about the horrendous exploitation of English. Notwithstanding the subject of the video, by any standards, the reporter took the rant to a deplorable level.

The language flavoured with nothing but expletives, was distasteful and offensive to put it mildly and coming from a British reporter, I was more than just disappointed.

I will not discuss the video in great length here as to do so would accord it unjustified patronage and importance but suffice to say that it contained all the swear words there might be in the odd dictionary of the speaker, repeated with no reservations, on a man who sits in office, lawfully elected.

My apologies again, this is not supposed to be about that subject of horror but my intention was merely to highlight the unbecoming ways in which the reporter chose to fashion his words in vain and pain of seeing a man of disrepute with decrepit mannerism holding such high office.

It is often said that, "when words fail us, we curse unsparingly and this is a hypothesis of Poverty-of-Vocabulary (POV) would have us believe. In this context, swearing is the sign of weak vocabulary, a result of lack of education and impulsiveness".

The hypothesis goes on to accord lower socio-intellectual status to those who thrive on profanities to attract attention. However, this hypothesis is being challenged by cognitive scientists and while some covenant is reached I take liberty to use POV in favour of my argument.

In contrast to the British journalist, Fareed Zakaria took the outburst on the same subject on a more cultured slew. A journalist and host attached to CNN, the Indian American talked about Trump's "ban" on Muslims in a mellow manner but packed his comment with the same disapproval and protest everyone else had, without spewing swear words.

I agree, "Our language is the reflection of ourselves. A language is an exact reflection of the character and growth of its speakers."

The writer believes that the Malaysian education system will reach greater heights with a strong antidote to revolutionise just about everything. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com