Some among us are blessed to have mastered two or more languages. Those lucky ones start, as do we all, with a native tongue but they build from there. It could be the result of desire to travel, learn, or even communicate, directly and simply. It could be the result of required academic or professional proficiency. It could be the result of an accident of birth with parents or other loved ones not able to speak in the dialect to which we are accustomed. Or, it could be the result of the physical limitations of geography where our latitude and longitude require more of us to survive and flourish daily.
The level of education, wealth or aptitude have little bearing on those who develop the skill. In the rows of gold-chorded honors graduates, none would be without a second or third language on their resumes. Still, in tourist markets from Istanbul to Beijing to Mexico City to Manhattan, peddlers call out in nearly as many languages as there are faces in the crowd, eager to catch the attention of would-be customers in their own tongue. They study pop-culture, food and other non-verbal peculiarities to better use the acquired vernacular. It seems that words alone are not complete.
In fact, many communicate without words. Symbols, logos and pantomime are used as ample expression. Culture itself can stand without voice, and information technology has developed and nourished countless other “languages,” all designed for increasing efficiency and universality. Each word finds an equal, yet entirely different, counterpart, and they do improve our ability to connect with each other. But are we on a path to rebuild the Tower of Babel? Or, are we rightly seeking to regain the bond between all humans lost as we scattered the earth?