The Language Nook – Le coin langues

A world in which only one language would be spoken would be a world of terrible loneliness.

A world in which only one language would be spoken would be a world of terrible loneliness.

by | 8 Jul 2016 | Quotes


This is a quote by Claude Levi-Strauss (1908-2009), a French anthropologist and ethnologist, member of the French Academy (Académie Française).

It is truly difficult if not impossible, to imagine a world in which only one single language would be spoken.

Some may dream of it and would like to to see one sole, easy-to-learn language being used all over the world. We may think of Esperanto as one such language, but Esperanto was not created to replace the already existing languages.
Zamenhof’s goal in constructing that language, was rather to offer an international language that would help people from various nationalities and mother tongues to communicate with ease in an easily learnt language.

“A world in which only one language would be spoken would be a world of terrible loneliness.”

In this quotation, Claude Levi-Strauss talks about something totally different: he tries to imagine the whole world speaking one unique language.

But if everyone in the whole world spoke the same language, then what about all that a language contains and conveys : ideas, concepts, culture, comprehension of our pairs and our environment?… Isn’t the diversity of languages a guarantee against loneliness?

If you are reading this post in The Language Nook, you are most probably interested in foreign languages. Can you picture a world without the diversity of languages we can enjoy throughout the world?
How would you feel about it? Share your thoughts!


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  1. Rima Allaham, Ph.D.

    I agree with you. I speak five languages. Every language is a world by itself. I feel like I am exposed to so many ideas. I am fascinated with each culture.

    I lived in the US for twenty five years. 380 million Americans speak English only. I have never met anyone who is fluent in any other language. The US is the best country to study this phenomenon. Do they feel lonely? What do they understand about the world? Who do they perceive it?

    • Yolaine

      Welcome to the Language Nook, Rima, and thank you very much for your interesting comments. Your choice of words about being “exposed to so many ideas” is exactly what I feel with every language I have discovered or learnt. It is also what I feel I am doing to my students when I teach them French or English : I expose them not only to the language, but also to a new way of thinking, a new culture, new ideas! 🙂

  2. English Spanish Translations

    What Strauss really meant by loneliness in only one language. I can only imagine he referred to not being surprised by or discovering new ways of saying and seeing things. As they say a culture is a land and its language. However, what can be more lonely than not knowing another language in a place where only that language is spoken and people aren’t willing to communicate in any possible way.


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