Biodiversity, Cultures and Languages

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Biodiversity, Cultures and Languages

Monday, 14 June 2021 | Vir Singh

The story of the wonders of light is unending. On earth, this story of light begins with photosynthesis, a phenomenon transforming light into life, and spells out as a fascinating diversity of life everywhere and at all levels: on land, in soils, in waters, and at ecosystem, species and genetic levels. Evolution of human species is yet another wonder of light – wonder of all wonders! Human race is one, but tremendous diversity exists within the race spread over diverse geographical regions. Humans do not exist just as another distinct species, but in spectacularly diverse cultures. Human race, like nature’s biodiversity, prevails in colourful cultures. And, as such, an extraordinary diversity among human cultures blossoms on earth. This cultural diversity itself is a manifestation of nature’s biodiversity. As biodiversity changes its patterns, its colours, its rhythms, and its ecstatic impacts from place to place, so do human cultures. Biodiversity changes in tune with the climates of the earth, and so do our cultures. Ecosystem distinctiveness gives rise to cultural distinctiveness.

One of the aspects of human life is language. There is no single language of the humanity. This is one of the distinctive aspects of humanity that, unlike all individuals of a species amongst animals, humans do not have a monotonous sound of communication. What evolution has outstandingly conferred upon humankind is language. It is the language human beings are adorned with that distinguishes our species from those of all other species on earth. Languages are as diverse as biodiversity. Ecosystem diversity and linguistic diversity are closely related.

Biodiversity is a product of climatic diversity. But biodiversity also maintains climatic diversity. Biodiversity is specific to specific climate. Human language is also a phenomenon linked with the specificity of biodiversity and climate. Biodiversity is an attribute of light.

 Therefore, languages are also an attribute of light. Linguistic diversity, in fact, is also one of the great wonders of light.

All animal species create different sorts of sounds; and only a species in a population can communicate only with other individuals of the same species. That is, communication is species-specific. This is one kind of diversity (‘language’ distinctiveness among all species of a population) that light has created.

Among human cultures, this diversity is still more fascinating. Human language changes from one area to the other. In India there is a saying that a language changes at every eight miles’ distance. The greater the degree of heterogeneity of a region, the greater the number of spoken languages, dialects and accents. The higher the inaccessibility of a region (that often results in increased heterogeneity) the greater the linguistic diversity. In the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region across Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar, for example, there are as many as 30,000 languages spoken by inhabitants of diverse cultures nurturing themselves in diverse environments. In the world, as such, there are millions of languages, and local accents, which is a miracle of the diversity created by light in human race.     

Another variation light has created is at the level of every individual human being. Each individual human belonging to the same language group may be identified by his or hers own distinctive tone. Every human person presents himself or herself with a characteristic voice which hardly coincides with any other human person speaking the same language. In this way there are billions of diverse tones that light has created. And yet there are some voices which are so melodious that they unswervingly make a short cut to one’s soul.

 Many a singers in all languages have got winsome voices and rule over the hearts of masses. This is a very special attribute of light. Thus, every song is an action of light enacted by a singer. A melody is a form of light, a tragedy is a form of light. A rhyme is a form of light. A love song is a form of light. A romantic song is a form of light. A chorus is a form of light. A lullaby is a form of light.

(The author is a former professor of Environmental Science in GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology)

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