The recent flap about Coca-Cola’s multi-ethnic, multilingual Super Bowl ad has us thinking. Maybe we language professionals need to do a better job of promoting ourselves. I mean, there’s a lot to love about the language industry, language as a career, and a multilingual world that needs us. Is all that love just our navel gazing? No, the world is made better by all of its linguistic diversity. And, here to prove it, we offer you our top 5 reasons why languages really do make the world go ’round.
Video entertainment has delighted us humans the whole world over for over 80 years and we have German, Russian, and English scientists to thank for the work. Some usages continue to be serious game-changers of the global order. You’ve got your royal British weddings, your American’s asking the world who shot J.R., Germans tearing down walls, and, more recently, everything from an Arab Spring revolutions to Gangnam Style dance moves. Even if you want to proclaim television dead, as the Guardian does, killed at the hand of the Internet, take joy then in the reign of YouTube video, which counts 1 billion unique visitors monthly from around the world. In fact, some 70 percent of its users are not even within the borders of its own home United States.
2. Science, Government, and Tech
Speaking of the joys of technology, let’s not forget that you’re reading this little language love letter on a device made possible by scientific developments that have been shared over time and landscapes and languages since recorded history. While English has been the lingua franca of science, business, and government for one generation, it’s not always been the case. And, as far as international diplomacy goes, note that there are SIX official languages for the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian, Spanish, and, yes, English.
3. Tonight’s Dinner
We joked about this in our Coke commentary but, really, take a look at your plate before you go on again about the uselessness of a multilingual nation. We’ve got our pastas, our burritos, our sushi, and our humus on pita thanks to world cuisines translated across many tongues (and bellies).
4. The Olympics
… and any international sporting event ever, really. For the winter games in Sochi, Russia, some 1,000 translators and interpreters join folks working in their native tongue to ensure that 88 participating nations can get the news back to families and fans at home. And as all of the hilarious commentary U.S. gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg’s press conference showed, it’s no easy task trying to translate all of the slang-laden excitement of the Olympics. Remember that when you’re enjoying this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
5. Saint Valentine
Finally, when you’re looking deep into the adoring eyes of your loved one (or ones) tonight, don’t neglect a thought for the Italian for whom the day is named. Rome’s Valintinus may have been persecuted for all of his loving heart, but his heart’s generosity has found its way into other hearts the whole world over. And not just in its diamonds and chocolates and flowers configuration.
In Finland, you celebrate your friends. In Japan, female colleagues give chocolates to their male co-workers … who are expected to return the favor one month later. And if you’re not among the February or March celebrants in South Korea, you’ve got April … for drowning your singlehood sorrow’s in a dish of black noodles. (Seriously.)
The oddities of international Valentine’s Day traditions aside, it’s a fine day to remember just how worldly love is anyway. We share this world — and understand each other in it — because translation makes it possible.
P.S. We’ve got a lot of love to share here at Moravia for fellow language lovers. Take a look at our career page. We’re hiring and would love — love! — to welcome you into our family.