Betty has been reading lots of Enlightenment thinkers who, anticipating Chomsky somewhat, dreamed of a universal language that would make manifest the equality of all men. Is it a sign, or a similie, for our sinfulness that we all speak different languages? Is esperanto the way to undo the folly of Babel?
Quite independent of this Betty's off-beat musing on the subject, this blog's Washington correspondant, Moo, weighed in:
As you well know, I like nothing better than to be surrounded by writers and people who read and care about books and recently I got to meet and talk with one of my favorite contemporary essayists, Richard Rodriguez. His first book, Hunger of Memory deals with the issue of private vs. public language. He is the son of Mexican immigrants, and writes that while his private life language was Spanish, the language of his public life in school, playground, and the streets was English. In a similar vein, Jorge Luis Borges also wrote that he thought that his family and his English nanny just spoke to him in different "ways" before he became aware that they were speaking different languages.
Since Betty and I speak different languages, and my other daughter, Little Hun, speaks even more, I am interested in this question both from a linguistic and private point of view. What is our private language? Our lingua-franca is English, but with some Spanish and Spanglish thrown in for good measure.
I am an interpreter, and interpreting for the Chinese Supreme Court Justice this morning was incredibly difficult into Spanish, but for some reason when I had to go into English it became much easier. Odd, isn't it?
This blog has many bilingual and multilingual contributors, and we encourage everyone to weigh in with their thoughts.
P.S. Just to set the record straight, No, Betty and Bimbo are NOT getting married! They do not WANT to get married. So let's just quash that rumor right here. They still live happily together and with their chi, with whom they share a sinful lifestyle and a private language.