Thursday, March 05, 2009

How Little We Know

When I turned on my computer today, a message popped up saying that a new update was ready to be installed for my web browser (Firefox 3.0.7, if you care to know.) After installing it, I thought I would check to see what new features or bug fixes I had received. In the "release notes" was this line:
Official releases for the Estonian, Kannada, and Telugu languages are now available.
I had never heard of Kannada. And since I live in Canada, I thought I would look it up. I expected to find out about the language of some obscure tribe in Africa, or maybe a Native American language spoken by a few thousand.

Instead I found out that Kannada is the language spoken by 35 million people in India (That's more than the population of Canada.) It is a language dating back at least until the 8th century (older than English.) It is one of the most literary languages in India - India's highest literary honor, the Jnanpith awards, having been conferred seven times upon works written in Kannada. It is the main language of Karnataka province, which includes India's high tech centre of Bangalore.

And I had never heard of it. I, who am well read and interested in the world, and thinks he knows so much.

Telugu, as it turns out, is the language of 70 million people in India - in the provinces of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Chattisgarh, Puducherry, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. It dates back at least to 500 BC; rivaling Greek and Hebrew.

And I had never heard of it.

It is humbling to realize how little I really know of the world we live in. How western centric I am. How arrogant I can be.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about Akkadian?

5:56 pm  

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