Is English the universal language?

English language

I'll dispel this myth right now. English is not the universal language. In business communication, however, English is increasingly taking its place as the lingua franca, this does not mean other languages are less important in business relationships, on the contrary. You use the languages that are necessary for your type of business, the products and/or services you offer as well as your customer target groups.

Technology makes our world seem smaller. For decades, linguists and artificial intelligence have been trying to shrink the world of communication as well. One of the attempts was the creation of the artificial language Esperanto. The intention was to promote this simple, neutral language as a universal second language for international communication. We all know the result.

Is unconditional love as the universal language enough?

Of course, we could say that unconditional love is the universal language. I can only hope that this language is understood and experienced by every single person lving on our planet. Unfortunately, this language is not enough. Languages are created by humans so that we can communicate with each other, give messages, express what we want, etc. And since we all live in different countries, have various cultures and history, there is a great variety of languages on earth.

The universal word of babies

Still, in my point of view, I think the language of unconditional love is never far away. When I heard and read about the findings of Marc van Oostendorp, Professor at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, I jumped for joy.

The professor came to the conclusion that a baby's nationality has no influence on the baby's first spoken word. Whether the baby was born in China, the United States, Belgium or England, the first word is always: MAMA.

Could this be proof for the slumbering, eternal existence of the universal language of unconditional love? Or is it just a physical reaction to a sound?

(Source only in Dutch: Waarom zeggen baby’s overal ter wereld 'mama'? - 'Why do babies say 'mama' all over the world?')

The English language: complicated and weird?

Many may find the English language complicated and weird. And yes, although grammatically correct, you can build the craziest, most bizarre sentences in English. For example:

The complex houses married and single soldiers and their family.

At first, you may assume that ‘complex’ is an adjective and ‘houses’ a noun with ‘married’ as the verb. On second thought, the sentence only makes sense if ‘complex’ is the noun, ‘houses’ the verb and ‘married’ an adjective for the noun ‘soldiers’.

And what about this oneAll the faith he had had had had no effect on the outcome of his life.

Again, grammatically absolutely correct with the past perfect tense used twice. Don’t bother running your spelling and grammar checker. It will go berserk!

The English language: same pronunciation, different meaning

Although the pronunciation of some words is the same, the words can have a completely different meaning. Cite/site/sight, for example. Let’s clear up the different meanings with a sentence: The construction site came into sight and the builder started to cite the further development of the building.

Or complement / compliment: The winemaker receives a compliment for the selected wines that perfectly complement the dishes.

The eloquent English language

The more you study the English language, the more you will be convinced of its eloquence. For a non-native English speaker, it might not be possible in their lifetime to fully master the English language without an Oxford University linguistics degree. However, our freelance translators at Jinah Translations love this language and the native speakers know their language inside out. Always keep in mind though: to make a mistake is human and even the greats of English literature admit to having their language flaws. Like Stephen Fry and Oscar Wilde.

Translation from and into English by Jinah Translations

Maybe you want to reach more customers with your company by using different languages? Then it is a good idea to have your communication, documents, website and/or webshop translated by a translation agency. At Jinah Translations we specialize in supporting companies to realize and expand their international presence. Let us help you.

Our love for the English language is paramount in all our business activities and we have been able to demonstrate this since 2008. Our translation agency has provided English translations for all manner of texts: general translation, legal and technical translation, website translation whether with or without SEO.

Contact us today for the translation of your text from and into English!