Language, Invention and Distinction

I've been working on a manuscript that examines how language interacts with the world and I find it endlessly interesting. The highly complex nature of our communication structures, practices and cultures means that very little human experience is free of language. More specifically, the actual language or languages we speak, think in and process deeply influence us. We might, if we push hard enough, allow that language inhabits us as much as we inhabit language. 

Given these deep intricacies, the nature of how the various languages we are part of is very important to think about. How do computer languages, marketplace terms, mixing of languages, power and conquest all relate? They are most certainly not trivial. 

Michel Serres has published a piece reflecting on how the marketplace - marketers and money people - are changing the nature of French and what might be done about it. I read the piece and thought that all uniqueness, distinction, peculiarity and local flavour is important. In this case, the matter of discussion is the use of French but I thought of many other ways that the particularity of the local can get washed out in the mass influences that move in and around us. 

Years ago I had a long conversation with a Ukrainian Orthodox priest that I met with from time to time  to discuss ideas with. He talked about how the retention of a Ukrainian mass meant that younger people failed to see the experience as meaningful - they were thoroughly English and the Ukrainian was the language of their grandparents. If he insisted on a Ukrainian mass, he risked the loss of a generation and thus of a much greater enterprise. If he gave up Ukrainian in favour of English, the cultural ballast of the Ukrainian culture would be deeply undermined. What a difficult, and specific, predicament.

Here's the article link. I would be most interested in what people make of the ideas raised. The image comes form this website