January 6th 2015

Reasons for a trilingual blog

“Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.”
‒Oliver Wendell Holmes

Back when this blog was still in the early conception phase, I was advised to keep it simple and convenient. One language. Not more. Preferably English.

“Just know that it will be much more complex and time consuming to handle on a regular basis if you want to do this in English, French and German. You will basically have to do everything three times.” , is what Tim, the Swiss web designer and programmer who turned my concept proposal – a roughly 20-page long Word document – into beautiful designs and lines of code.

Here’s the thing though:

There is no way I can pick one of those three and stick to it. That would be a hindrance to my thought process. English is – of course – the most logical choice when it comes to global reach, but French and German are my native languages and expressing myself in those two will probably always be easier for me.

Languages impact the way we think. They impact the way we express ourselves. They impact the way we are perceived. I can only agree with the words of Azade Seyhan, a Fairbank Professor of German and Comparative Literature at Bryn Mawr College Pennsylvania:

“In every language, you’re someone else, a different person.”

A blog is a place where you can express yourself. If I can more easily express myself by having the possibility to choose which language is most suited for a first writing, well then I am willing to invest the time it takes to translate what I wrote in the two remaining languages.

Translating is an art though and even if I aim at delivering faithful transcriptions, differences between versions of a text will always exist. In any case, I will do my best to turn them into worthwhile readings.

Another reason for not going down the monolingual route was the fact that the internet is already full of blogs written in English. Nowadays, English is so widely spread and strong that using it is the most logical thing to do. Back in 2011, Jon Huntsman Jr., who served as U.S. ambassador to China and speaks Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese Hokkien, claimed:

“It’s interesting to note that the largest English-speaking nation today, or soon to be, is China.”

Things come and go. Everything is in motion. The French language used to play a dominant role in Europe before English took over. Long before that, it was Latin and Greek.

In a not too distance future, Mandarin Chinese – due to the size of China’s population – could position itself as the only real competitor capable of challenging the dominance of English.

But if languages and thoughts (and ultimately – cultures) are so closely linked, dominance of one single language cannot be something to promote.

It’s a question of diversity.

And since this post started with a quote from American author Oliver Wendell Holmes, let’s end it with a quote from Austrian (before accepting the British nationality) author Ludwig Wittgenstein

❝The limits of my language are the limits of my world.❞

Blank filler

and Charles the Great

❝To have another language is to possess a second soul.❞

Over and out.

À bientôt.

Bis bald.

Timelapse created with a Canon 5D Mark III and a Canon 50mm 1.4.

This post is also available in French and German.

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