Penelope Maclachlan 

The Christian Bible says in Genisis 11:1-9 (King James version): 

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Nimrod, the great grandson of Noah, is recorded as builder of the tower of Babel. The Bible says the Christian God was angry because he saw it as an attempt by humans to challenge divine authority. The punishment for such presumption and vanity was to scatter the human race all over the earth and make it difficult for them to understand each other.  

The effect of this punishment is, if a curse, one that is blended with blessings. When we travel from the country we were born in, and go to live in another, we will thrive more from this experience when we learn the language of our host country. Some newcomers are apprehensive about trying; they fear making mistakes.  We all make mistakes, though;  they are an essential part of the learning process.

It is a joy both to preserve own language and culture by discussing them with fellow countrymen and women and, if we move overseas,   to learn a new language, converse with its citizens, and read its books and newspapers. Making friends with people of various nationalities broadens our outlook and sympathies. 

Research shows that children who speak more than one language improve their  cognitive skills across the whole curriculum.  Stroke victims have a better chance of recovering if they are linguists. Speaking various languages can help postpone the onset of dementia in those unfortunate to suffer from this illness.   

If we speak two or more languages, we can help newcomers to our shores by conversing with them in their own and in the local language. Working in the adoptive country can mean higher pay for those who speak both the language of their employer and that of clients from overseas.   Careers in languages can be lucrative and stimulating. A good language teacher at school or university will encourage students to experiment and expand their horizons. An interpreter may work in courts of law and gain a fascinating insight into legal processes.

Here are two websites which linguists may find relevant to their interests and ambitions:  

Chartered Institute of Linguists: 

The amazing power of being bilingual: 

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