The Language of the World

Have you ever wondered what language the world would use if it could speak? Would it be a spoken language that everyone could understand or a quiet language of gestures and eye contact? With over 8 billion people in the world, and more than 7,000 known languages, it seems unlikely that there will ever be one language that everyone speaks. Interestingly, cuneiform tablets from Mesopotamia are believed to be the first examples of written language, though Egyptian hieroglyphs appeared simultaneously in the 4th millennium BCE. 

However, with so many languages and cultures in the world, it's hard to imagine that we will ever have just one universal language. Even when people don't speak the same language, communication is still possible using nonverbal cues. For instance, you can use gestures like pointing to your wrist to ask for the time, and people from different linguistic backgrounds can understand you. Similarly, in a group of friends, people can communicate nonverbally when someone is upset or angry. Nonverbal communication includes facial expressions, body movement, posture, gestures, eye contact, touch, space, and voice. However, it's important to remember that different cultures interpret nonverbal cues differently.

For example, in some cultures, direct eye contact is considered impolite or even aggressive, while in others it may be a sign of respect. Hence, it seems unlikely that there will ever be one universal language, and that's okay. Our differences make us interesting and unique. We can still communicate with each other, whether it's through Spanish, French, German, Mandarin Chinese, Thai, Swahili, Haitian Creole, Italian, or any of the thousands of other languages spoken around the world. Interestingly, Albert Mehrabian, a researcher of body language, found that communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% vocal, and 7% words only. This is known as the 55/35/7 formula. However, it's important to note that an individual's attitude can also be displayed through the form of vocal communication, such as inflections, tone of voice, or pitch. 

The language of the world is best experienced through direct, in-person interactions, as it encompasses the full range of verbal and nonverbal cues. In-person communication allows individuals to experience the nuances of vocal inflection, facial expressions, and body language, which all contribute to a more complete understanding of the message being conveyed. While digital communication has made it easier to connect with others, it fails to replicate the depth and richness of face-to-face interactions. As such, it is important to prioritize direct communication in order to foster stronger connections and a more comprehensive understanding of the world around us.

By Nana Senya, GLS Administrative Support Specialist II