¿Qué? (What?)

By Chad Leigh Kluck on

So I'm driving around uptown Omaha, Nebraska, one day and I stop at a traffic light. There is a Chinese restaurant with a sign that reads: "Authentic Chinese Cuisine / Dine In or Carryout / Se habla Españ__ol." The windows read: "Tacos / Burritos / Tamales." I think: ¿Qué_?_ (Spanish for "What?") How authentic is this?

Let me go off on a tangent here: Universal communication. In other words I propose that Latin make a comeback to bridge the people of all nations. The authentic Chinese restaurant is trying to draw in those who speak Spanish and thus building a bridge from China to Latin America. (I have learned that contrary to popular belief Latin is not spoken in Latin America. It is also rumored that an ex-Vice-President also had the same notion as I do.) This bridging is no small potatoes. If everyone, whether French, German, Russian, Chinese, Spanish, English, or California, could speak one common language (Latin), imagine how much business the Authentic Chinese/Mexican Cuisine business would do.

Imagine also going to any country and speaking to anyone on the street. They could not laugh at you because you do not know how to pronounce their words since you were communicating in a common language. Sure they can make fun of your tourist clothes in their native tongue, but you get that in your home country anyway. Heck, I make fun of tourists. I'm from the Midwest and when I drive past a family alongside the road with East Coast license plates standing by a fence taking pictures of cows in a pasture and mooing at them, I say to myself "dang of city-slickers." When I'm in Chicago with my cowboy hat, cowboy boots, six-shooter, and a Garth Brooks tee shirt, trying to figure out the turnstile in the subway/el-train station, Chicagoans look at me and say "Damn old hick. He should be carrying a .22." In Italy, France, and Texas, I'd be a "funny American. Should be carrying an automatic."

Why should all the "educated" people have fun in foreign lands? A person should only have to know a few languages to get around in the world. (As stated earlier I propose the person's native language and Latin.) I already know a few additional languages (mainly computer) and I want to learn more, but there is no way to learn all. Within the next few years, I will be taking courses in Spanish, Latin, and English, and I would not mind learning Italian either. What about when I go to Germany or Bulgaria? How will I cope with only a knowledge of four languages? If Latin were universal, I would only need to know two languages and I could save the other two to impress people. (Mainly by making fun of them at the dinner table with other guests who speak foreign languages that I knew.)

Why Latin? Good question. (Though it is a sentence fragment.) First of all since no nation uses Latin as a way of day to day communication, there would be no superiority, The English language has become superior by being the common language used in aviation and on the Internet. Though not a phonetically correct language, English does not have special characters that computers using ASCII, EBCDIC, or EXTENDED ASCII cannot agree on, which makes it ideal for Internet use. (Prime examples of special characters are: ñ, ú, ç.) Special characters can be used in Latin, but they are not necessarily needed. How often do you find yourself looking at a foreign web-site, though?

Second, Latin has a history of being a common language in the Middle Ages. Let's say I spoke English, but I needed to send a letter to someone in Germany who spoke French. I would go to a monk and for a fee (probably livestock if I were a farmer), he would translate my English letter into Latin. The letter, in Latin form, would then be sent to France and translated by another monk into French. Then the letter, now in French, could be sent to Germany where the French man would be waiting for it. The English monk did not know French and the French monk did not know English, but still they were able to communicate my letter. If my correspondent and I would have both known Latin, I could have saved some of my livestock and time by writing the letter myself and sending it directly to the French man in Germany.

I conclude this thought, which is overpopulated with parentheses with a final thought that will also contain parentheses. With a common language, such as Latin, a person could carry a conversation with ten different people, each of whom speaks a different language. Who is smarter now? The educated individual who knows only French, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Korean, Pakistani, Japanese, Spanish, and English? (And has to repeat himself in each language in order to communicate with only nine people.) Or a person who knows two languages (English and Latin) and can communicate with all ten people at once?