Has it ever occurred to anyone to forbid the use of his mother tongue by people of other nationalities, under the pretext that it is his language? That it is a private property?

Of course it will look ridiculous.

English people cannot forbid me to use their language under the pretext that it is their language. All human beings can use the English language. It goes the same for all the other languages. And this very fact shows us clearly the status of the language as a human common patrimony.

Thus, any language, modern or dead, is a common patrimony to humanity since it is free and can be used by any person on earth without any restriction. On the other hand, as a non-British native, by assimilating and by using the English language, I make it undergo a breeding, a crossing. It is no longer “British English”, it is another variant of English and it is an enrichment of the Standard English that is the “British English”.

Similarly, the same logic applies to other languages. The use by someone of a foreign language transforms and enriches it. Americans, Indians, Canadians, Australians, South Africans have enriched the “British English”. Quebecois, Africans, Belgians, Swiss people have enriched the “French French”. In the same way, the Latino-Americans have enriched the “Spanish Spanish”.

This foreign language that I decided to practice is now going to bear the ‘seal of my own culture’, and therefore becomes another graft of the Mother Tongue. I enlarge the expressive faculties of this foreign language.

This is how learning a foreign language can bring closer together nations of very different cultures, establish tolerance and found peace. The language bridge links nations far better than bridges made of steel or stones.

A language is but a particular apprehension by particular people of the same reality surrounding us. But few people seem to be aware of this.

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Other works by Hammoudi Abdelwahab:

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