Ethnologue.com's bold tagline claims that it catalogues 6912 of the world's living languages. While the claim is surely impressive, it makes one wonder at the freak happenstances of history that have allowed us to become so messed up as a species that we couldn't unify some of our communication. Even body language is radically different between adjacent regions.Let's face it, if there remain 7000 different interpretations of words as common as "water", we are always going to have destructive global conflicts around the world. I know this sounds like quite a leap, but when a mesh-backed cap wearer in Mississippi will turn around and crack someone over the skull with a beer bottle because he misheard someone complimenting him as a "flag lover", the variations of language have proven their destructive powers. In the meantime I'm going to enjoy a tall cool glass of wasser, agua, uma, su, wossa, ondou, ji, akvo, banyu or H2O.
While the Esperanto experience was noble in its conception, and small groups have adopted the constructed language to varying degrees, it certainly was never the over-riding success that would change the face of world communication. That said, technology has radically changed the ability to communicate across borders, continents and oceans. While trying to propagate a language through print would be cumbersome at best, involving drawn out exchanges by letter on usage, failures and successes, the current state of connectivity allows for everything from a text file dictionary e-mail attachment to live video-on-demand tutorials. There are, however, problems that would tax any attempt to resurrect Esperanto or some other existing or constructed language.The sociological impact of a newly-learned language distributed throughout humanity sounds tempting, but consider the risk. As knowledge is power, so is language. While certain countries may endorse, adopt, perhaps even legislate the language's education to its populace, those falling behind would not only put themselves at a disadvantage with regard to simple understanding but, moreso, on the precipice of an economic sinkhole. Clear language is essential in business and is the reason so many MBA sycophants pick up Japanese or Chinese as a second language; there's always a job for someone that can bridge the verbal and written gap between world languages.
Those who, for any reason, could not maintain the pace of the language's growth would start to suffer implicit economic sanctions as trade would become scarce. Third world countries would hardly stand a chance as the technology that would allow for ease of assimilation is beyond them.I suppose that half of the problem could be alleviated by eliminating the written language altogether. If books become e-books, letters remain e-mail, and business can be validated digitally, does an a/v language become the standard of correspondence? I'd wager that ascii emoticons reach cross-culturally far more effectively than the words "smile" or "wink". Will broadband lead the way for the constructed language of the future? Maybe the tight head shot of a webcam will prompt a serious re-examination of strictly face language instead of body language. A new business crops up of web notaries that will witness and certify verbal contracts completed via Skype. All chat, journalism, blogging, becomes aural or visual. All poetry, short stories and novels become spoken word recordings. The death of the written word - as Sanskrit became increasingly divorced from a verbal component, the new "Visaural" language would evolve without a written component.
I know it sounds far-fetched, but could we at least start with proper names? I think we need to evolve to the point where we can respect the language of the place that spawned the name of the place. Would it really be that difficult for us to pronounce Rome as Roma or Paris as "Pa-ree"? Couldn't we say Espana for Spain or Deutschland for Germany? It really wouldn't be that hard, because while I honestly don't see a way to avoid history's diverse explosion of languages, I really hate it.