For the Love of Linguae

Essay Writing Competition 2019
Category: 12 - 15 years
- Winner -

Winning essay in this category is "For the Love of Linguae" written by Tristan Kuhn

Tristan lives in rural KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa and is home educated. In his award-winning essay 'For the Love of Linguae' Tristan tells us about the importance of learning languages and his own language learning experiences and shares an inspiring message with us. 

For the Love of Linguae

South Africa is a rainbow nation. A rainbow nation has many different kinds of languages and people.

We have eleven official languages within nine provinces or states. Where I live there are a few languages spoken, namely isiZulu, English, Xhosa, and Afrikaans. I can speak a bit of isiZulu such as “hello” and “how are you” and “I am fine”, but I really want to learn it fluently.

At the moment my family is learning isiZulu because most of the people around us speak it. We are also are learning Afrikaans because of the history on my mom’s side and we are learning German because of my dad’s side of the family.

We have just started Latin. I really want to learn Latin in depth because it is the base of most English words. I also want to learn Greek as I am fascinated by the Greek history.

Every language has a history and I believe that if you listen closely you can detect the history of that language. Take Latin, for example, it is a language of learning and grace, but there is a darker aspect to it in that it carries a hint of war and power as seen as in the conquering Roman Empire. My favorite language is Latin because I love Roman history. Here are a few of my favorite words: aurum which is gold, inimicus which is the Latin word for enemy, hastam which is a kind of spear, gladius which is a short sword, and aura which is air.

A new language can gain you a new friend and let you see the world in a different way. I really want to learn a lot of languages because I feel that the more languages you learn the more opportunities you have for relationships, careers, and travel.

It is so sad that so many languages have died out or been changed. It is sad because I like the way the old languages sound. I also feel that the old languages are more closely intertwined with their cultures. That is another reason I want to learn Latin. Latin has not changed since its inception and continues to form the basis of many beautiful languages.

The power of language is incredible but there are a few limitations such as in the translation of languages, feelings or ideas cannot always be expressed correctly since the words in one language may take on more or different meanings in another language. For example, the Greeks language has more than one word for love (like eros or agapi) which express different types of love, while English uses one general term.

Most of the time languages are closely intertwined with their cultures and therefore their words and meanings have cultural significance. Books and languages are close to my heart.

The gift of languages is important because there are a multitude of languages in the world and it truly touches people’s hearts when you speak in their language. On one occasion I said hello in isiZulu to a shop keeper and she was very happy that I took the time to greet her in her own language.

I really hope that more people will learn more languages. I also wish more people would record some old languages because many are dying out.



In the Age category 12 - 15 years, Tristan shared his insights into the power of languages and his message to learn languages to connect with culture and history in order to create better interpersonal and intercultural relationships resonated strongly with with us. Thank you Tristan for sharing your story with all of us! Well done! Congratulations!


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