The Decline and Fall of the Babel Empire – Jeong, Han-yong



The Decline and Fall of the Babel Empire


‘I loved you, though I didn’t know it then,’*
How did the Cro-Magnons say this?
‘The love of a beautiful sin brings me long & lonely nights,’*
How did the Sumerians express this?

The Babel tribes, who once lived briefly on Earth, used more than eight thousand languages. It is not known exactly when most languages began and disappeared because there is no record at all. Especially after the 20th century, along with the expansion of imperialism, 99% of them disappeared quickly and quietly, while only a few big languages still remained.

Since the 14th century, Latin has remained only in letters.
Leroysen died in the 17th century, and Koikoi died in the 19th century.
Homa died in 1975, Yamani in 1978, and Ainu in 1980.
Uwik died in 1984, Karawa in 2016, and Basque in 2050.
The list is endless.

About 1,900 languages died all over in Asia.
About 1,800 died in Africa, and about 1,200 in the Pacific area.
About 1,000 died in North and South America.
About 260 died in Australia alone.
Once the minority languages disappeared, the big ones began wilting.
In this huge cemetery of languages, there still remained some epitaphs.

[Korean] 사랑해요 ‐ extinct in 2310
[Japanese] 愛しています ‐ extinct in 2397
[Turkish] Seni seviyorum ‐ extinct in 2488
[German] Ich liebe dich ‐ extinct in 2643
[Afrikaans] Ek is lief vir jou ‐ extinct in 2703
[Slavic] Я люблю тебя ‐ extinct in 2770
[Arabic] أحبك ‐ extinct in 2862
[Spanish] Te amo ‐ extinct in 2977
[Chinese] 我 爱你 ‐ extinct in 3086
[English] I Love You ‐ extinct in 3114

The Babel tribes used the word ‘love’ again and again and again. But the usages were so indiscreet that, we concluded, we could not discern through this research whether this word was the cause of their extinction.



* from the songs of Korean pop singer Cho Yong‐pil






Jeong Han-yong: poet, born in 1958, poetry 『How to Make a Mink Coat』 etc.

Translated by Seth Feldman



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