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Speak the language

I just participated in a Baha’i junior youth camp in France as a volunteer cook. For 10 days with my kitchen-team mates we prepared meals for 75 kids aged 13 and 14. The team was composed of two PhD in biology; two engineers; one student physiotherapist.  Somehow none of these amazing people wanted to dominate the team so we ended up working in collaboration,  “re-inventing” the recipes we had been given in the beginning, working around local produce or facilitating processes. You can count on engineers to make oriental patties into  tortilla-like squares so you can fit more of them in the oven! The youngest among us turned out to have a great talent for logistics so we ended up listening to her input religiously.

Now apart from that interesting personal experience, we discovered that the kids’ language was totally uncomprehensible to us (we were all in our 40s) and tried to get them to “update” our slang, which they found really hilarious. Part of the camp’s pedagogy heavily focused on kids’ developing their language skills (no slang!) not only for the purpose of public speaking or eloquence but more specifically because with increased and refined language range comes an ability to have more complex thinking. Mark Pagel in this TED talk explains how language evolved for a better human cooperation (see talk here). He also highlights that the natural path of language development in a globalized world will be to have a common language.  Bahá’u’lláh (1873-92) in the Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá’í Publishing Trust) highlighted the need of an “auxilliary language” which would be taught on top of the mother language as a powerful means to unite the world. Somehow our descendants will be able to travel the world and always find someone to chat to or understand the security warnings such as  e pericoloso sporgersi which remained a mystery for years!

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One response »

  1. Very interesting teaser on a deep subject… language or the use of our words as a great peaceful tool to uniting people. Tell us more!

    Reply

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