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Bombay: It is the evolution of language that separates human beings from the rest of the animal kingdom. This is not to say that animals and birds are not able to communicate, but to give you a sense of comparison, while the average human has a vocabulary of between 20 and 35,000 words, animals and birds the smartest can barely speak a few hundred. There are many theories on the evolution of language. However, it is believed that between 100,000 and 50,000 years ago, something changed quite drastically in the human brain that made it possible for critical building blocks like language to evolve.

Today the human race speaks approximately 6,500 languages, of which 12 are the most widely spoken, and the United Nations has adopted 6 of them as official languages. Languages ​​make it possible to communicate and collaborate on science, technology, international affairs, art, culture and make everything possible from commerce to world peace.

To recognize the important role languages ​​play, the UN adopted a resolution on May 24, 2017, which declared September 30 to be International Translation Day. September 30 was chosen because it celebrates the feast of Saint Jerome, a priest from northeastern Italy, who translated the Bible into Latin and is also considered the patron saint of translators. He was fluent in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and translated parts of the Hebrew Gospel into Greek.

The role of languages ​​in accessing quality education, strengthening cooperation, building inclusive knowledge societies and promoting intercultural dialogue cannot be underestimated. Languages ​​provide a shared context and a sense of identity; international dialogue also helps to build a more tolerant world, and multilingualism is therefore a fundamental value of the United Nations.

Most Indians are multilingual, generally speaking their “mother tongue” in addition to English and the regional language of the state in which they grew up. In addition, some of us have probably also managed to learn French or German in high school. Besides the obvious professional benefits that multilingualism brings, recent research has also shown that it increases cognitive abilities and can even potentially reduce the natural mental decline associated with old age.

With the pandemic still upon us, we are all traveling much less than before. So how about investing all that free time in learning a language that would make this post-covid exotic European vacation a little more fun!

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Posted on: Thursday, September 30, 2021, 7:00 a.m. IST

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