Language as a verifiable instrument for measuring historical developments (Part I)

By Nancy Olakunle


Language is one of the single most important features in any given society as the language of a people carries their history, emotions and even their outlook to life like none other. Proving this fact should not be difficult if one knows just what to look out for, which is why it is important to know that some of the racial prejudices between humans against each other are based on difference in language. Because of the above stated facts, students of language often find themselves laden with an unavoidable responsibility towards their language of study to not only study the language, but also to understand the story behind each literary achievement and identify the history of the people through their literature which is best put in their language.

Studying a language does not just require intellectual ability, but also a good deal of emotional commitment. Students of language do not just spend time on learning the basic rudiments of speaking and writing a language; they study texts and literature written in the language, because every work of literature is usually filled with the emotions that inspired the work. Books like “Oliver twist”, “Tess of the D’urbervilles”, “Sailas Marner” are examples of English literary works which carry the emotions and the state of mind of its production period, and hence, it is therefore almost impossible to read any of these books without having an emotional response and intellectual opinion about the situations and events portrayed in the books.

Having an emotional response to the texts of a language is not the only way through which linguists can understand the historical allusions made therein; every book has a geographical, time, political, and even economical setting, and because of this, it is inevitable that one would find oneself drawn into the setting. Either emotional or practical, a response will be emitted, and this eventually turns out to be a sort of foundation training for human and public relations. This may have a lot to do with the fact that linguists often turn out to be good conflict resolvers, good intelligence and strategy officers; given the right training, they often turn out to be excellent when they find themselves in the law profession. They often turn out to be good politicians and diplomats. Perhaps this is why the departments of language and related studies are often referred to as the HUMANITIES.