Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Watch That Speaks Esperanto

Tick tock. Tick tock. Time’s running out for more than half of the world’s 7000 languages. Doomsdayers estimate that at least one of these dialects will go extinct every week. Experts attribute this phenomenon to the slow death of the indigenous tribes. The language Amurtag, for example, is said to have just 1 speaker now. And if an alien abducts this chap, our planet will be down to 6999 bhashas in a jiffy!

So who’s responsible for this linguistic holocaust? It’s not a Hitler by the name English. It’s not even globalisation. It’s bummers like us who have to be hauled up for The Case of the Vanishing Vernacular. If you want proof for your guilt, I shall stack them up one by one.

Did you know that the English language has over 500,000 words under its able command? The average bloke on the street uses less than 5000 words everyday! That’s a usage rate of just one percent.

Apply this 1% rule to Hindi, Tamil or Kannada and you’ll realise we waste away 99% of the words in the dictionary. What that means is we have no one else to blame for the silent necrosis of our sacred tongues.

Which is why, any movement to promote usage of new words or languages, should be actively lauded. One group of linguaphiles who’ve been at the forefront in fighting the ‘War against Poverty in Vocabulary’ are the unsung Brand Namers.

Thanks to them, the Average Joe knows exotic words like Ubuntu (Afrikaans for ‘humanity’), Hitachi (Japanese for ‘sunrise’), Samsung (Korean for ‘three stars’), Alta Vista (Spanish for ‘high view’) and Volvo (Latin for ‘I roll’).

Achilles Ditesheim, a Swiss Entrepreneur, deserves full credit for adding a dash of Esperanto to our lives. His move of choosing Movado (meaning ‘always in motion’) as the moniker for his luxury watch, paved the way for a bouquet of mellifluous Esperantist names from that company, including Amorosa, Eliro, Juro, Kara, Mezo, Saffiro and Vizio. Inspired by the acoustics of this universal language, a famed soft drink major christened its orange fizzy as Mirinda (means ‘wonderful’). They’ve never looked back ever since.