Is there too much or not enough emphasis on language nowadays? In its purest state, language is meant to be a tool to allow people to communicate with one another. However, as things stand now, a misspoken word or use of the wrong phrase can be a serious faux pas and can cause the ideas being expressed to be dismissed outright. Is this placing too much emphasis on the words themselves while ignoring the ideas contained therein, or is it a reflection of a laxity on the part of regulating language? Words often have differing connotations based on the context (i.e. part of speech, placement/usage in sentence, background of speaker, etc.). Should language be regulated to an even greater extent than it is currently to prevent people from being confused by too many differing definitions/usages of one word? As the world moves towards greater globalization, clear communication becomes ever more essential to our day-to-day operations. How should we approach language in the 21st century -- as a tool that aids our lives but that pales in comparison to a more significant end or as a component so essential to life that it must be regulated to ensure clarity and continuation? Discuss.
I align myself with the group that says language is a means to an end. However, there are still rules that one must follow. You must follow these rules, not to conform your thoughts or expressions, but merely to help make yourself readily understood.
That said, globalization of language may make us more easily understood, but it's a scary thought to me. In my mind, the less we consider globalization, the better. After all, English isn't that beautiful of a language, and world-wide dispersion of it would be a sad thing indeed. There's no need for cultural differences to suffer for comprehension. These differences are already in place, and changing them now would hurt more than help. Using different languages is one thing, but mutating your own language to suit your own laziness is chiefly puerile.
I think one of the leading areas of contention in the field of linguistics today, especially when considering the English language, is where to draw the line between "dialect" and "improper use of the language." Historically, English has been one of those languages shaped to fit the needs of its users. Thus, there are numerous "dialects" of English that conform to the needs of distinct groups of English speakers. However, with English taking on a role akin to how Latin was used in early modern Europe, as a common communication tool which academics, scientists, and government officials from various nations and societies can use to communicate ideas to one another, it appears that either greater regulation of the language is necessary to ensure that "dialects" don't lead to disorder or another language should be chosen to be the "common tongue," so to speak. Personally, I feel that Latin should still be the choice du jour for this type of comprehension. Since it's a dead language, it theoretically wouldn't proliferate as English is in the global community and wouldn't threaten the already-existing languages with the threat of extinction. However, considering the great amount of speakers seeking a common language, the choice of language could at this stage be a moot point.