We’re delighted to announce the winners of our fourth set of Pre-GCSE Inspire competitions! For Class 4 we looked at how languages and linguistics can help to make a game more immersive, and how games can help us to learn languages. This class’s competitions featured a tricky language puzzle, the question of whether or not we should all speak the same language and more. We received some excellent entries to these competitions; you can read a selection of them below.
Congratulations to the winners of Class 4 competitions:
- Maddie, Ealing
- Raya, Ealing
- Sarah, Harrow
- Tommaso, Ealing
- Marina, Ealing
Each of you have won an Amazon voucher. This will be sent to the email address you provided in your competition cover sheet; please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven’t received yours by the end of the week.
Competition 9: A characteristic voice
Each class will have a photo, art or short video competition with a prompt based on the topic we are studying in that class. In Class 4, we have been looking at the importance of language in video games, so for this competition we want you to feature a game character whose voice is particularly iconic. What features are particularly noticeable about the character’s voice and why? Try to illustrate why the distinctive features of this character’s voice or accent matter, and what they indicate about your character in context of the game.
Entries can be photographs, visual art or short (<10 seconds) videos. You should also include a short written explanation of your entry (maximum 100 words). To prepare for this competition, you should have read “Using language to build characters and worlds.”
First place: Maddie, Ealing
Second place: Raya, Ealing
Competition 10: LINGO
Play through the scenario below in which you are unexpectedly dropped in a land whose language you need to learn as quickly as possible. Then, once you’ve played through the game and learned some basic principles in this language, have a go at questions 1-7 below!
1. Can you identify two verbs, and give their meanings?
2. Can you identify two nouns?
3. Can you find three ways of indicating possession (my, your, his/her)?
4. What’s the most likely meaning of primstick in question 4?
5. How do you say “to drink” in this language?
6. What are the 1st, 2nd and 3rd person singular endings of verbs?
7. If “home” = heimo, “in” = o, how would you say: “I want to go to my country”?
Everyone did very well on this tricky puzzle, especially considering that for many of the questions you had to make some guesses – much like in real-life language learning situations! You can now check your work via the link below.
First place: Sarah, Harrow
1) 2 verbs: kala= is kilas’ or kilam (kil- root word)= would like/want I am unsure of how to change these verbs to infinitive as I can’t find anything that indicates to what the word ending may be
2) 2 nouns: brabo= name pito= a drink
3)Possessive pronouns: ari= my bari= your mari= her
4) Primstick could mean ‘really’ or ‘very much’ – The phrase was ‘Kilam pito primstick’, and from the question ‘kilas’ pito?’, I could assume that if kilas’ means would you like, then kilam must mean I would like, and pito means a drink. This left me to use my current knowledge and infer what seems to be the most sensible and probable answer, which seemed to be an adverb or something that indicates quantity. I would really like a drink/I would like a drink very much.
5) to drink- ‘pit’ must be the root word as ‘pito’ is a noun, though I’m not sure what the verb ending is for infinitives
6) The 1st person singular ending is ‘am’, which can be seen from how the word kilas’ when speaking to someone else changed to the word kilam, the root word ‘kil’ staying the same but the suffix ‘as’’ changing to ‘am’
The 2nd person singular ending is as’, which is shown when Plam is speaking to Sala, and says kilas’, but the ending changes when Sala is talking in 1st person to kilam, showing that the root word must be ‘kil’, therefore the verb ending for second person must be as’
The 3rd person singular ending might be ‘a’, though I am not sure as the only verb I found used in 3rd person was ‘kala’, which happened to be the same for both 1st and 2nd person as well.
7) Kilam kala o heimo – the word kala means is, so the infinitive of it is to be, therefore the translation should be, ‘I would like to be in my country’ however I don’t know how to change these verbs to infinitive, so the phrase is likely to be quite incorrect grammatically.
Second place: Tommaso, Ealing
Competition 11: Would it be better if we all spoke the same language?
Oxplore is an innovative digital outreach portal from the University of Oxford that tackles big questions across a wide range of subjects and draw on the latest research undertaken at Oxford. Click the link below to explore today’s big question: Would it be better if we all spoke the same language? Then, considering what you have learned in this class and on Oxplore, as well as in previous after-school clubs on Esperanto and other languages, answer the question: Would it be better if we all spoke the same language? Your answer should be in the form of a short essay (maximum 500 words).
We received some really thoughtful, well-written responses to this question. Some common themes that emerged are that speaking the same language might make communication easier, but it would eliminate cultural diversity and personal identity. A few entries also pointed out that choosing which language to speak would be a highly political decision. Read on for the standout entries to this competition…
First place: Marina, Ealing
Would it be better if we all spoke the same language?
Different languages originate as a result of isolation between areas or regions. When communications are cut off between areas that originally spoke the same language, changes are made to the linguistic structure of the language in each area over time. These are usually caused by migration to different places, where people explore new foods and plants etc. and new people are met who share ideas and influence their dialect. The modern world has an abundance of different languages, which shape the amount of cultural diversity we see today. This means that each region is unique in its heritage and offers different ways to perceive the world through the culture embedded into their language.
Languages encourage cultural differences and diversity between countries that make a country or region unique. This means that people can identify themselves, along with their culture and family, with their language. If we all spoke the same language, important aspects of the culture that are tied to the language would be lost, reducing diverse cultural perspectives that influence how we see the world. Furthermore, people would gradually become accustomed to a similar way of thinking, as they cannot cross the boundaries of the one language and gain knowledge from another. This would cause a lack of creativity and innovation, which are normally influenced by one’s unique culture and experiences. What would happen if people lost their sense of creativity? We might see less discoveries being made or books being published. Perhaps the world would become less and less open minded to change, fueling the lack of motivation to make a difference to society.
In contrast, if we all spoke the same language, there would be no language barrier and we would understand each other better. There would be a foundation of understanding across the world, increasing the knowledge that can be shared. Because of the shared language, people would be able to connect and sympathise with people from different countries, due to the familiarity of the language that would make them seem similar. This might step closer to drawing an end to problems that people face due to fear/hate of people with distinctly different cultural backgrounds, including their language; for example, people might find that the amount of racism will decrease as people can identify and connect more with different people, losing the will to discriminate against them.
Even if we all set out to learn the same language, differences would still occur in the languages to form dialects. People who live in different areas develop different ways of speaking according to how the people around them speak and their surroundings. Overtime, these different dialects might evolve (over time) to sound like entirely different languages. For example, the english language has many different dialects, some which cannot be understood by other english speakers. For example, North American English sounds very different to the english spoken in Northern Ireland or Scotland. Even if the world decides to all speak the same language, it would spark tension and conflict between countries over what language should be spoken and would put many people at a disadvantage in society.
In conclusion, I think that it is unnecessary for the world to speak a single language as it wouldn’t exactly solve our problems (for example world peace). In fact being a culturally diverse world means that you become more open-minded and see other nations as different, which opens up to personal exploration.
Second place: Sarah, Harrow
Would it be better if we all spoke the same language?
While many may believe that having simply one universal language for the people of the world to speak is better whether be it for ease of communicating or implementing tasks such as travel and trade, I disagree. I believe the diversity in the many; both innovative and traditional methods of communication we have formed over the centuries spent on this Earth. Our many languages help us form special bonds with others in the group we communicate in, giving us a sense of belonging, to our ethnicity, to the group of students we study the language with, and to the country that the language is originally from. Language is more than just a way to send a message; it is part of our identity, and a foundation for both who we are, and who we want to be.
Language is very personal to culture, and a lot of words in language are formed based on culture, and wouldn’t necessarily exist elsewhere, just as certain festivals are specific to religion and aren’t really celebrated outside of those beliefs. Having a single language for the world to speak, though it would certainly rid us of language barriers and make travelling easier, would take away from the culture and traditions of different countries. We are lucky to be surrounded by such diversity in race, beliefs, personalities, and cultures, if we only allowed a single language to exist, it would take away from the beauty of such an assortment of people that decorate this Earth.
Though the thought of everyone being able to understand each other by speaking a common language seems like an ideal world, it is simply just that – an ideology. There are too many problems with having one single language for everyone to learn. Despite English being a language of its own, there are so many dialects, and different ways of speaking it depending on where you are from- US, UK, urban slang. If all of these languages that were initially spoken the same formed so many variations, why wouldn’t the one language we all speak form dialects of its own? In that case, it would be pointless just having a single language, as it would be likely to end up branching off into its own languages, just as Latin did, rendering the idea of a united language to be flawed.
Having many languages in the world is better for us evolutionary wise as humans. Research shows that being bilingual affects the structure of the brain in a positive way. It’s been shown to increase the volume of grey matter in several brain areas that are usually connected to language learning and processing, restructuring the brain as a response to learning a second language. This sort of task requires particular cognitive demands that a monolingual person’s brain wouldn’t. As a result of the new language learnt by the bilingual, the white matter in their brain that transfers information and decides between two different languages has to evolve and adapt to become more efficient, bettering the human brain. If the world only spoke a single language, how could we increase the productivity of our brains?
Moreover, having just a single language restricts communication in the form of description. Some languages have words which may not be translated to another language, particularly languages very rich in ancient poetry such as Arabic and Hebrew. Translating certain words takes away from the beauty and true meaning of them. Languages should be celebrated as a unique phenomenon which helps human beings to develop and progress in various aspects of life.
Remember: the deadline for Class 5’s competitions is 5pm tomorrow, 8 July. We’re looking forward to seeing some more fantastic work – and there are some more Amazon vouchers on offer for the winning entries!