Language is important, its how I'm communicating with you right now. A forum like this obviously couldn't operate or exist had we not some form of common way expressing ideas. For us, the language we use is obviously English and for many its the only one they know.A mural in Teotihuacan, Mexico (c. 2nd century) depicting a person emitting a speech scroll from his mouth, symbolizing speech
But languages have histories, politics, power dynamics, etc.
The indigenous people of where my family came from (Cundinamarca, Colombia) spoke Muyscubun and other Chibchan languages before being conquered by the Spaniards. They still do now, but often in secret or in isolated communities that survived The Conquest. There's only one school I know of that still teaches it, and its not exactly in an urban area.
I grew up in a Spanish speaking family that immigrated to Texas when I was about 2 or 3. Through the power of American media and cultural hegemony, English outcompeted most of my Spanish skills despite my mom and dad almost exclusively speaking Spanish. So though I understand Spanish as well as I do English, I have trouble speaking it. While it makes things difficult sometimes, (my step-father only knows Spanish), it doesn't trouble me as much as the fact that I only know a few words of Muyscubun despite my family's ancestors being mostly rooted in the Amerind populations in the region we came from.
That being said, there's been much anthropological and psychological research done on how language may effect the way a person perceives reality. Generally language is both the vehicle, and manifestation of a culture.
My Arabic speaking roommate from Kuwait commented that in English there are very few words(at least in use) for describing different kinds of terrain. He said this made it extremely difficult to give decent directions to English speaking friends but he could easily communicate subtleties of different locations and paths to Arabic speaking friends. For example, he talked about how there were specific words in Arabic for different forms of hills and different colors of soil that just did not exist in every day English. Meaning he could not simply use a single phrase to describe a location but instead had to give entire sentences.
What languages do you speak?
What languages does your family speak?
What languages did your ancestors speak?
How has it shaped your life?
I wanted to make a post in here for old time's sake. I remember a lot of discussions with Joe, Hairy, and a few others back in the day, so I thought I would.