- Published: January 25, 2022
- Updated: January 25, 2022
- Language: English
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The racialist theories of the Germans are largely based upon these fallacious assumptions. It cannot, however, be denied that there is nothing more which readily gives unity to people conscious of their divergent origins as the unity of the tongue. Language is the medium through which people express themselves, maintain mutual intercourse, share common thoughts and participate in their weal and woe in the same idioms. Common language helps the growth of feelings and traditions, at first through folk songs and folk tales and later through a written or printed literature. “ There is nothing,” says Ramsay Muir, “ that will give unity to divergent races as the use of a common tongue, and in very many cases unity of language and community ideas which it brings, have proved the main binding force in a nation.
” Bohen explains that the concept of a mother-tongue has made language the source from which springs all intellectual and spiritual existence. Earnest Barker finds the closest affinities between nationality and language. “ Each word is charged with associations that touch feelings and evoke thoughts. You cannot share their feelings and thoughts unless you can unlock their associations by having the key of language. You cannot enter the heart or the mind of nation unless you know its speech.
Conversely, once you have learned the speech you find that with it and by it you imbibe a deep and pervasive spiritual force.” The general view is that diversity in language greatly weakens national sentiments. The most recent example is the revolt of Bengalis in the erstwhile Eastern Wing of Pakistan and their secession from its Western Wing to form the sovereign State of Bangladesh. But if diversity of language weakens the national spirit, linguistic unity does not always bring national unity. It has not united the Irish with the British, nor the Austrians with the Germans. Spanish Americans show no disposition to join the Spaniards or even to consolidate in South America.
The Swiss are a nation, though they are divided linguistically and four languages and a number of local dialects are far more generally spoken than the official languages. Paradoxical as it may seem, nothing whatever is done officially or privately, to lessen the linguistic differences. Nevertheless, language is important, not exclusive, as a factor in welding the people together in common ties.
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