24. February. 2020. | 10:17

Language as a mean of facilitating communication

Written by: Allen Meta, Project Officer D4D

Dating back to the prehistoric period, human beings needed progress from non-verbal to verbal communication, not only to facilitate but also to enhance the exchange of information’s between humans. Although without a standard set of letters, nevertheless, verbal communication to a large extent facilitated communication among humans in general.

According to the statistics, there are about 7000 languages spoken today, a varying number seeing that around the world there are still some small and isolated places with their own methods of communication and languages spoken by only a handful of people.

In Kosovo, the Albanian and Serbian languages enjoy status as official languages, moreover in municipalities where communities make more than 5 per cent of the population a similar status as official language is also granted, like the example of Prizren municipality which has 4 official languages, to be specific Albanian, Serbian, Turkish and Bosnian languages.

Referring to the proverb “as many languages you know, as many times you are a human being” which I concretely experienced during many occasion while taking part in different events in various regional countries. Considering that I grow up in a family where a Bosnian-Macedonian (let’s call it like this for arguments sake) language was present, because the origin of my mother is from a region in Kosovo called Gora, therefore Gorani language was spoken (a mixture of Bosnian and Macedonian, with loanwords from Albanian and Turkish), so as a child I’ve managed to understand and later on learn as well speak in everyday life.

As an enthusiastic child to learn more languages, I have attended an English course and just within 5 years, I have acquired enough English language knowledge so speaking was not a problem anymore. I had a similar eager for more languages. With a basic knowledge of Serbian language due to the similarities with the Bosnian language, I have started to read different articles and short books written by Serbian authors but also books translated into the Serbian language. As time went by I’ve developed proficiency of this language.

Taking into account that the Serbian language enjoys the status as an official language in Kosovo, this sparked my enthusiasm to learn this language that would additionally facilitate my dialogue with Serbians, Bosnians and Gorani living in Kosovo.

After I started my studies, together with some other fellow students we started to engage in some activities that would bring us later in some other countries where foreign languages are being spoken. Initially, the first activity paved us the way to Slovenia whose language I had a feeling that sometimes I did understand, but it was only a matter of few words considering that the etymology of the language derives from the branch of Slavic languages.

The following two activities started with Croatia and during that time I was also practising those acquired basic skills. Communicating was very easy since my peers spoke only Croatian or English. This caused my interest to sharply arise and triggered my curiosity for more languages, continuing to read articles in Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian. So next stop was Serbia and with time I understood that only by speaking with others I have achieved language proficiency.

After a while went in postgraduate studies in Macedonia, with lectures given in three languages, that is Albanian, Macedonian and English languages. This was an interesting experience because it gave me a new set of Macedonian language knowledge due to its similarities and differences between comparing with Serbian and Bosnian languages. Lectures given in the Macedonian language propelled my interest not only because I found the subject matter to be so appealing but because of the language that I wanted to learn as well.

This is how I have perceived the dictum “as many languages you know, as many times you are a human being”. By now speaking with Serbians, Bosnians, Croats and Macedonians were utterly simple. From my experience gained through different projects of collaboration both inside and outside of Kosovo, I understood that language made me able to communicate easily and get rid of prejudices.

Youth in general, and especially in Kosovo, should learn languages spoken in the country we live in, in order to facilitate dialogue among us and to remove those barriers that divide us. After all, knowing many languages is just adding value to yourself. The benefits of learning foreign languages are undeniable, especially regional languages. We live in a region where learning and speaking Albanian and Serbian language is of special importance not only for the sake of an easy dialogue but also in reducing prejudices toward different people and communities.

The blog post on a personal experience with multilingualism is published within the information campaign on language rights in Kosovo. This campaign is carried out as a part of the project Creating a Bilingual Kosovo” implemented by the NGO Aktiv and supported by the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Pristina. The opinion expressed in the text does not reflect the views of the Norwegian Embassy.