The Instigator
SuperRobotWars
Pro (for)
Losing
19 Points
The Contender
Chrysippus
Con (against)
Winning
40 Points

We Should Have An Official Language For Earth

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/12/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 6,505 times Debate No: 13137
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (23)
Votes (14)

 

SuperRobotWars

Pro

My debate is that Earth should have a official language to be taught alongside national languages in order to foster a greater sense of unity for the humans of Earth.
Chrysippus

Con

I thank my opponent for this debate.

I will be arguing against the resolution, "Earth should have a official language to be taught alongside national languages in order to foster a greater sense of unity for the humans of Earth."

=======

1. "Earth should..."

"Should" implies a need. Is there, in fact, a need for an official international language?

There certainly is a supply; people have been creating languages for that specific purpose since the Renaissance. Here are a few:

http://www.uea.org...
http://volapuk.info...
http://webspace.ship.edu...
http://www.lojban.org...

The insignificant fraction of the human race that have adopted these (and the many other) "universal" languages may indicate the lack of an actual need for such a global language. For the most part, normal people seem to find knowing one or two languages sufficient; all they need to know is whatever is spoken by the people they work with on a regular basis. The globe-trotter set, being (if I may hazard a guess) a very small and comparatively rich fraction of Earth's population, should be able to hire translators, learn the languages they need to do business in, or find an unofficial language spoken world-wide. English comes to mind, for some reason... [1]

2. "... a[n] official language..."
To state the obvious: To have an official language for the earth, there must be some kind of consensus over the entire planet. I could invent a language and declare it the "official" language of Earth, but that wouldn't make it so. The consent of the entire human population or their rulers is needed.

Now, this obviously would take a massive effort to get every single group on earth to go along with this plan, or even a significant fraction of the Earth's population. Were this an attempt to wipe out the plague, eliminate illiteracy, provide clean water to everyone on Earth, or end slavery, the point of the effort might not be in serious question; but, if people were to pour their lives into this cause, work selflessly for decades educating people about this goal, spend uncounted millions implementing the legal and physical infrastructure this project would need; in the end, what would we have?

Nothing.

Human nature would not change; 10,000 years of history would continue dividing us; racial prejudice would still spill human blood; war would not slow just because the conquered understand what their conquerors say.

A quick cost/benefit analysis of the effort needed to teach all of mankind "Humanese":

Costs:
-Blood, sweat, tears.
-Decades of hard work
-Billions of dollars worth of books, government publications, classes, workshops, seminars, congresses; et al.

Benefits:
-Tech support in broken Humanese rather than broken English
-Warm fuzzy feeling.

I propose that this is not worth the effort.

========
Footnote:

[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com...
=======

I reserve further arguments until after my opponent has had a chance to defend his resolution and make his constructive case.

To my opponent, with thanks.

- C.
Debate Round No. 1
SuperRobotWars

Pro

Your first argument is wrong due to the fact it was not agreed upon by the nations of Earth. Think about it if these languages are not pushed by government to be taught in schools how are they supposed to become common in the world for the most part those languages were privately made and the governments of he world haven't looked at them at all or paid any mind therefore nothing would ever happen with those languages they made. And to refute your bilingual argument only 66% of the world populace is bilingual so what about the other 34% and remember the definition of bilingual which is: Using or able to use two languages, so what happens when a person who knows Spanish and Japanese goes to South Africa which has 11 official languages (Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu) that person has no true means of easy communication. And what you said about "The globe-trotter set, being (if I may hazard a guess) a very small and comparatively rich fraction of Earth's population, should be able to hire translators, learn the languages they need to do business in, or find an unofficial language spoken world-wide." for one there are only two truly world wide languages that are unofficial which are violence and money, two most people of the world want to foster unity and trust for the younger generations so if they have one language in common they would have a better sense of understanding with their fellow man, and also understand that there are many different ways of communicating in our modern world rather than just going there such as Internet, phones, and mail (although slow and old it still works).

Sources:
http://wiki.answers.com...
http://www.merriam-webster.com...
http://www.answers.com...
http://en.wikipedia.org...

I agree with your second statement, there must be a consensus of all the world governments on the matter. And of course it would take a massive effort to get countries to agree (and we don't need every group to get along with this plan only the majority must agree). And yes it would cost a lot of money and time, but when people can communicate with each other easily it can help to create more peace in the world through understanding of one another.

And for your argument about human behavior not changing is only partially true. Human behavior is attributed to the human environment very little of it has to do with nature, as you are more or less implying with your idea that human nature will not change and saying that racial prejudice will continue to divide us, prejudice is not natural it is learned from others (hence not natural). Hence by allowing for the communications between children by teaching them a standard language for the world we could put an end to perpetual racism. Just because I'm black means I should be racist against Europeans from coming to my homeland and conquering it and selling my ancestors into slavery, no, just because I'm Russian I should be racist against the Mongolians for coming and taking over Russia so long ago, no,just because I'm Japanese I should be racist against Americans for dropping Nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, no, so in this light racism can be put down.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://dictionary.reference.com...

And to counteract what you said about the costs and benefits, there would be no blood shed (but there would sweat, and tears of politicians and linguists working on the project), and there would be a substantial amount of time spent on the project, and several billion dollars but remember this is for the future and no god things come easy, it all comes from hard work and perseverance. And what you said about the benefits is utterly pointless in the fact that the true benefits would be: the ability for more people to compete in our globalized economy due to a standard for language, a greater sense of unity for future generations of people, and less mistranslations due to the fact we all have a standard language taught in all schools alongside national and local languages.

My opponent must also understand that true peace cannot be accomplished without a standard way of communication. And I would also like to note the world has a standard system of measurement, numbers, and naming system (classify all organisms) why not one for language?

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
http://en.wikipedia.org...
Chrysippus

Con

I thank my opponent, both for his timely response and for giving this debate his time.

I will address his defence point by point.

=====

1. Argument against need

My argument was that, if normal people needed a worldwide language, they would have adopted one themselves. The lack of one does not prove the converse, but it does strongly suggest that there is no real need for an imposed official universal language.

His response:
"Your first argument is wrong due to the fact it was not agreed upon by the nations of Earth. Think about it if these languages are not pushed by government to be taught in schools how are they supposed to become common in the world"

This is a fair objection. If people do not even know about these languages (in particular, the languages exemplified by the list I provided, created specifically to bridge culture barriers), they cannot use them. The question is, do they need them in the first place?

Historically, when groups of people who do not know each others' language find they need to interact, one of three things happen:
A) A common language is learned, either imposed by the stronger of the two groups or mutually agreed upon (Lingua Franca: http://en.wikipedia.org... )
B) A pidgin language is created to allow trade. (Pidgin: http://en.wikipedia.org... )
or
C) One of the groups learns the others' language.

Those that need to communicate find a way to do so. One or both parties learn a shared language, and communication is established. If everyone really needed to communicate with everyone else, we would learn whatever language was most useful for that purpose. There would be no need to make it official.

The closest thing to a language understood world-wide is English; estimates range from 300 million to a full billion speakers of English world wide ( http://en.wikipedia.org... ) and it is an official language in 55 countries ( http://en.wikipedia.org... ). Apparently, if you speak English you can communicate with up to 1/7th of the Earth's population; no one had to make it an official language for the world.

Beyond that, though, the other 7/8ths of the world seem to have no need for a global language. One can assume that the vast majority of them never encounter someone that does not speak a local language; people living in rural Iowa, Ukraine, India, or Australia are not likely to have personal (or email, telephonic, etc.) contact with someone that does not share their language. These are ordinary people, who work exclusively with people from their own language group; why should they be forced to learn in school a language they will never use? With the Internet and the growing availability of secondary education, those who wish to learn a second language can do so; why should we impose an official language on those who don't need it?

The objection may be raised that we are in a global economy now, and business is done worldwide on a daily basis. This only helps my argument, because those who need to communicate to do international business already do so. They have solved this problem for themselves without any heavy-handed re-education program forcing everyone to learn a common language.

"only 66% of the world populace is bilingual so what about the other 34%"

This statistic is taken from Answers.com. Some anonymous person wrote it, and there is no way to know where they pulled the number from. I took a screenshot of the page http://www.debate.org... ; if the reader will notice the "Related Answers" section down at the bottom, there are three contradictory numbers listed for the population of the world:
> Almost 7 billion.
> 9.9465936 billion
> 1000000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

Answers.com is unreliable. There is no reason to trust information solely taken from this site, and I will ignore any future citations from it.

"there are only two truly world wide languages that are unofficial which are violence and money"

Source? Also, your point?

"if they have one language in common they would have a better sense of understanding with their fellow man"

Any logical reason why this would be so? If it were true, is this vague "understanding" worth the effort to teach billions of people another language? For reasons stated above, I contend that it is not.

2. Argument against cost.

I argue that the benefits to be gained are far outweighed by the costs involved in creating a global consensus for and teaching an official language.

His response:

"I agree...there must be a consensus of all the world governments"

So far so good.

"And of course it would take a massive effort to get countries to agree"

Yes.

"and we don't need every group to get along with this plan only the majority must agree"

Eh, I guess; 2/3rds at least if it's going to be the "official language or Earth" as the resolution states.

"when people can communicate with each other easily it can help to create more peace in the world through understanding of one another."

This is a very naive view of international relations. Governments, who last I checked were the ones in charge of declaring war, have the resources to hire competent translators. We cannot blame international conflict on mistranslations.

And again, a vague feeling of understanding and slightly increased peacefulness is hardly worth the vast effort this project would require.

"And for your argument about human behavior not changing is only partially true..."

Due to character restraints I won't repost the whole of your argument here, but to address this quickly: I posted a few of the genuine problems that mankind faces (racism, war, historical division, the human nature of hatred and fear of strangers) which this project would not address. I could have given a much longer list, starting at lack of clean drinking water and going all the way to corrupt governments, but I don't have to. The point is not that humanity faces problems - you've already agreed with me that it does - but that having an official language for the whole Earth isn't going to do much if anything toward addressing those problems. If it would, you need to prove it.

"Hence by allowing for the communications between children by teaching them a standard language for the world we could put an end to perpetual racism."

I fail to see how that follows.

"there would be no blood shed"

I ask my opponent's pardon; I used a common phrase: "blood, sweat, and tears"; I expected the reference to be understood as indicating a tremendous effort and great sacrifice, not literal bloodshed.

"the true benefits would be: the ability for more people to compete in our globalized economy due to a standard for language,"

I dealt with that above;

"a greater sense of unity for future generations of people,"

Warm happy feeling = not worth the cost;

"less mistranslations due to the fact we all have a standard language taught in all schools alongside national and local languages."

This might be so; I concede this part of this point as plausible. I deny it is worth billions upon billions of dollars and decades of effort and the re-education of seven billion people.

=====

Conclusion:

I oppose the idea of having an official language for the Earth because:

A) The majority of mankind has no need for an international language, and those that need to communicate internationally are already doing so without any intervention;

and B) The costs of such a project would be enormous with little or no substantive benefit gained.

I return this to my opponent; best of luck!

- C.
Debate Round No. 2
SuperRobotWars

Pro

To counteract your first argument I say that since normal people cannot communicate properly and how the worlds communications systems are still limited it would take government support to do so and also in this fact due to lack of communications capacity people would only learn local languages further hindering the ability for a universal language. And your second argument about trade is still incorrect due to the fact it would only work for small groups and would change by location (different languages in different locations) and we are a civilization on a much wider scope than before and human language back then (in a manner of speaking) was much simpler and had less words than it does now and traders tend to trade fixed sets of goods and so new words posed no problem because they didn't come out often. And your third argument about being able to communicate with 1/7th of the world population by knowing English and that the other 7/8ths (which I assume you meant 6/7ths) will never need it so why teach it when they can stick to local languages, well all I have to say is this: if there was an environmental disaster and they had to receive immediate assistance from a nation with a different set of languages how are they to communicate easily, it would be a pain to have to bring a translator everywhere and dictionaries can only teach you so much, as well as the fact that to come to a common understanding of each others language could take months even years and would damage relief efforts, and also remember 6/7ths is the majority of the population therefore more likely to suffer from those disasters. and your argument about the Internets growing use as an secondary education negates your argument about the 7/8ths communications ability or the 7/8ths directly contradict it therefore resulting in both arguments negation. And your argument that "The objection may be raised that we are in a global economy now, and business is done worldwide on a daily basis. This only helps my argument, because those who need to communicate to do international business already do so. They have solved this problem for themselves without any heavy-handed re-education program forcing everyone to learn a common language." although true it also means that companies will only employ people with multiple language experience and a universal language would allow more people to compete in the job market due to everyone's understanding of a common language. And my numbers argument remains strong due to the fact those so called "contradictory numbers" were for completely different topics as can clearly be seen in http://www.debate.org...
They state the following:
How many people exist in the world?
Approx how many people are there in the world?
How many people are there in this world?
And my source for that is http://www.oss.net... http://www.amazon.com... http://en.wikipedia.org... . And this "vague understanding" is worth it, was the Civil Rights Movement worth the "vague understanding" of our fellow man? I believe it was so why not try to foster this "vague understanding" with the rest of the world. http://www.infoplease.com... http://en.wikipedia.org...

I account that we cannot change how government acts currently with this policy but future generations as I had clearly stated in my arguments in the previous round could foster friendships with those of other nations and these friendships could lead to greater understanding and peace. And what you said on the "(racism, war, historical division, the human nature of hatred and fear of strangers)" still doesn't address what I said in my previous argument in the previous round so I don't have t go into it. And your "Warm happy feeling = not worth the cost" is addressed in my previous paragraph and argument. In response to my adversaries A) although true things could run a lot smoother with an universal language. In response to B) understanding of one another is a great gain for that's also what the Civil Rights Movement was about http://www.infoplease.com... http://en.wikipedia.org...

I would like to end with this note: Is it not worth it for this so called "Warm happy feeling" which is unity and understanding to become a key role in our children's and grandchildren's future?

I would like to thank my adversary for such a great debate.
Vote Pro.
Chrysippus

Con

I'd like to begin by thanking my opponent for his time and courtesy. I have enjoyed this debate thoroughly.

The resolution is "Earth should have a official language to be taught alongside national languages in order to foster a greater sense of unity for the humans of Earth."

For the most part, Pro has restricted himself to merely answering my attacks on the resolution. In the absence of any major constructive arguments, then (at least, as far as I can find), the whole debate hinges on the two points I posed:

1. Is there a need?
and
2. Are the benefits worth the cost?

1. Argument against need

To briefly sum up my arguments under this section from the previous two rounds:

a. Most of the world's population has no need to communicate with people outside their language group, and thus do not need a universal language;

b. Those that do need to communicate across language boundaries learn business languages (such as English), use translators, or find some other way to communicate; they have already solved the problem, and do not need an official universal language.

In response to (a) he suggests a universal language would be useful if there were an environmental disaster that required international assistance. He also claims it would help world peace, help people trust each other, reduce mistranslations (of what, I'm not sure), and help people compete in the global economy. Of these 5 claims, only the first and last have any merit outside of an ideal world, and he only gives an argument for the first and second.

Lest I be accused of dismissing his arguments without cause, let me point out that having the same language does not necessarily help people understand each other, or prevent them from waging war on each other. History is filled with examples of warfare, racism, hatred, and gross misunderstanding between people groups who shared the same language.

Just a few examples of wars between groups that spoke the same language:
American Revolution
English Civil War
Mohammad's Hegira
Bolshevik Revolution
French revolution
the Roman Gladiator rebellions

Having a common language does not necessarily cause understanding and trust; nor does he explain why it would work on a global scale.

Of his valid points here, I would have liked to see more of his reasoning behind them; some justification of the cost involved. What he gave me, though, are generalities and blanket statements, not reasons.

His point about disaster relief ignores the fact that such aid is already given, without a universal language. Is it worth the cost of teaching everybody a new language just to make disaster relief go slightly smoother?

In response to (b), he concedes my point, but says a universal language would allow more people to compete in the global economy. Yet, as instruction in the languages used for business is widely available already (which I stated and he did not bother to deny), those who want to compete can learn the language they judge will give them the most advantage. As I said, for the global economy to work, those that need to communicate _already_do_so. Official world languages are not needed for that.

====VVV===If you don't read anything else, read this===VVV====

In my R2 conclusion, I wrote:
"A) The majority of mankind has no need for an international language, and those that need to communicate internationally are already doing so without any intervention"

And he responded,
"In response to my adversaries A) although true things could run a lot smoother with an universal language."

So, he says it's true that mankind has no need for a universal language. Whether things would indeed run smoother has not been demonstrated in this debate, nor is it important. If we do not need a official global language, why should we make one? Why spend the time and money?

I hold the resolution negated by his concession.

======

2. Argument against cost

My argument here, stated briefly, pointed to the enormous cost of getting the world's governments to agree to this plan and teaching the whole world an official language; I compared that cost to the expected benefits (a "greater sense of unity") and concluded it was time and effort better spent solving some of mankind's real problems.

In his response he brought up the comparison with the Civil Rights Movement. "...understanding of one another is a great gain for that's also what the Civil Rights Movement was about" and again "And this "vague understanding" is worth it, was the Civil Rights Movement worth the "vague understanding" of our fellow man? I believe it was so why not try to foster this "vague understanding" with the rest of the world"

With all respect, there is no valid comparison between a global language and the Civil Rights Movement. One might foster a mildly better understanding of our fellow humans, the other righted a heinous injustice. The first we admittedly have no real need for, the other helped rid us of some of America's most shameful deeds; ones that, I remind the readers, were committed by people who shared the same language as their victims.

I could go on, but I don't need to. Without any need for a global language, the enormous cost of implementation would be virtually wasted. The resolution is negated; we should not have an official language for Earth.

I thank my opponent for a fun debate, and urge a Con vote.
Debate Round No. 3
23 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
RFD's?
Posted by Atheism 6 years ago
Atheism
Nice voting for yourself SRW.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
Any chance we could get RFD's on this?
Posted by Koopin 6 years ago
Koopin
hjkjkrtfutrf
Posted by Alex 6 years ago
Alex
Sorry forgot about this one, anyways that word is "shall" not should.
Posted by MaxJ 6 years ago
MaxJ
There is no need for a universal world language. If don't think even 1% of the people here use a different language occasionally next to their native tongue. And I don't think it will be much different elsewhere.
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
6/7ths, of course. I hate typos!
Posted by SuperRobotWars 6 years ago
SuperRobotWars
I apologize about that too.
(vote pro)
Posted by Chrysippus 6 years ago
Chrysippus
It's fine; I knew what you meant.

Grr... the editor is cutting me off 200 characters early :(

Chuckle... Isn't it a little early to urge a Pro vote, SRW?
Posted by SuperRobotWars 6 years ago
SuperRobotWars
Sorry in one of my paragraphs I put god instead of good.
Vote Pro.
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