Is there a "best" language?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Michael, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. Michael

    Michael 歌舞伎

    Are there a set of criteria we could use to determine which language is the "best"?

    Or are all languages equal?

    - Many of my Japanese and Persian friends say they like to speak in English (even to other Japanese or Iranians) because it allows them to express ideas they either don't have or say things more directly that simply isn't possible in their native languages.
    That's interesting.
    - Of course I have also been told Arabic is the "perfect" language - the criteria, that's what the Qur'an is written in so it must be.
    - I've been told Old English is the Lords language (and thus also Perfect) because that's what the KJV of the Bible was written in!
    - I read once that 100 years ago Japanese and Chinese tried to get rid of their characters because they thought this may have been holding them back socially and developmentally, but the problem was they can read information just sooo much faster using them, without them they read comparably slower and so they had to keep them.

    So, this all got me to thinking, is there a "best" language? Is it possible to rank languages? Perhaps by number of words? Perhaps by number of sounds, or in the case of Japanese by have a space for a lack of sound? How they are written?

    I read there's a group of people in south E Africa that speak tonally + still use clicking noses, presumably a remnant from before we evolved vocal cords! Is theirs a MORE or LESS or NEITHER evolved language?

    Do linguists ever attempt such endeavors? Are some languages more evolved than others?

    Last edited: Dec 10, 2008
  2. cosmictraveler

    cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always.

    No, and to try and do so would only show arrogance and foolishness.
  3. tim840

    tim840 Registered Senior Member

    I'm no expert, but I really like the English language. It is a very flexible and expressive language, which means its difficult to learn, but good for communicating with. The language has such a huge vocabulary, and can be manipulated easily to produce a variety of meanings and feelings. There are words for anything you could want to say.

    I havent got a lot of experience with many languages - Im monolingual and learning Chinese - but Id say English is a pretty good language. (Also, you can invent words if you dont know how to say something and people will still know what you mean)
  4. cosmictraveler

    cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always.

    I'd think there's no real best language but only one that could be more useful and easily understood to everyone.
  5. That's true. :D
  6. James R

    James R Just this guy, you know?

    All human languages have a large amount of redundancy. For example, consider:

    "Yu cn ndrstnd ths evn tho it lcks mny vwls."

    So, having fewer sounds or words is unlikely to make a language "better". We like a certain amount of redundancy, so that if we miss the meaning the first time we can still probably pick it up later on.
  7. CheskiChips

    CheskiChips Banned

    That has nothing to do with spoken language.
  8. Michael

    Michael 歌舞伎

    Is it possible to ask the question: Which is the BEST language and objectively answer it? Why do people think it's wrong to ask? Maybe it depends on which aspect.
    - Perhaps Chinese can impart information the fastest.
    - Perhaps English in the most prevalent.

    Some languages may be superior in some aspects while others in others.

    Think about this, is it normal to ask this question: Which computer language is the best to program in?

    See the point?
  9. EntropyAlwaysWins

    EntropyAlwaysWins TANSTAAFL.

    There is no such thing as a "best" programming language although you could definitely make the argument that a given language was 'best' for a given application.
    You can't really say that about human languages, I doubt most people would be capable of switching languages repeatedly mid conversation whenever the topic of discussion shifted.
  10. Michael

    Michael 歌舞伎

    good point
  11. EntropyAlwaysWins

    EntropyAlwaysWins TANSTAAFL.

    Random story that relates to this:
    I have heard that in Belgium (and other multilingual countries) it is relatively common practice for people to have a conversation between 2 people that are speaking two different languages, i.e, each speaks their native tongue which the other understands but is not as competent at speaking.
  12. Michael

    Michael 歌舞伎


    of course, I don't think there's a perfect language or a "best" language - it's just something I often here from certain types of people.

  13. Sciencelovah

    Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

    Best? Imo, Japanese. For example:

    年. 月. 日 = Year. Month. Date
    1直 = 1st shift (working shift)
    水洗 = water rinse
    担当 = person in charge​

    Very efficient, or? :cool:
  14. Sciencelovah

    Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

    Something that I made few years ago:

    *** 4th Year Annual Schedule of Engineering Control Department:
    (*** = company's name)

    技術管理 = engineering control/management
  15. Sciencelovah

    Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member


    That very short text means: Civil drawing (図 = drawing/figure)
  16. darini

    darini Registered Senior Member

    I think the best language for a community is their own (otherwise they'd be speaking another one).

    Anyway, as a non-native English speaker, I believe its flexibility helped it to become a lingua franca (perhaps Latin also had that feature, so it became the dominant language at its time - appart from the Roman Empire power etc.)

    So, I wouldn't say "best" language, but languages that are more practical than others in some aspects.

  17. Sciencelovah

    Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

    I have to say, that is true as well. My mother tongue (Indonesian) is the simplest language I've ever known (other language that I've learn is Sundanese, English, German, Spanish, French, Japanese, and now just starting to learn Arabic).

    In Indonesian, unlike in some other languages, there is no tenses, no singular/plural rule, no article (like the, a, an), to mention few. For example:

    In English:
    1. I am going to go to school
    2. Yesterday I went to school
    3. Tomorrow I will go to school
    In Indonesian:
    1. Saya pergi ke sekolah
    2. Kemarin saya pergi ke sekolah
    3. Besok saya akan pergi ke sekolah​

    The verb (pergi = go) remains pergi.​

    Another example:
    In English:
    1. I have one car
    2. She has one car

    In Indonesian:
    1. Saya punya satu mobil
    2. Dia punya satu mobil

    Another example:
    In English:
    1. I have one car
    2. She has two cars

    In Indonesian:
    1. Saya punya satu mobil
    2. Dia punya dua mobil

    Another example:
    In English: I - he - she
    In Indonesian: Saya - dia - dia​

    Very simple, or? I am not sure though, whether simple means best :D
  18. Enmos

    Enmos Moderator

    English, not because of the language itself but just because its international function.
  19. Sciencelovah

    Sciencelovah Registered Senior Member

    Eventhough so, it isn't the most spoken language.
    English: 510 millions speakers
    Mandarin: 1120 millions speakers

    I guess that's because the mandarin language is not worldwidely distributed like English.
  20. Enmos

    Enmos Moderator

    Why yes, internationally English is the most important language. Mandarin.. not so much :p

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