Monday, August 18, 2014

The World Vernacular Is English, Korean Edition

I've mentioned a number of times here, from points abroad, that English is the world vernacular. As Latin was in the West, and Greek was in the East, so now English is, everywhere.

Our Holy Father's recent apostolic voyage was an opportunity for him to speak publicly in English.

In Korea.

The reasons for historic language hegemonies may not be the most religious reasons, and in fact they often are tied primarily in a rather unsavory way to economic and military realities. And it may not be a great boon for other reasons as well. I spoke about the dominance of English with a priest--himself from New Jersey--who works internationally. His feeling about English is that it is unfortunately too direct for the best kind of dialogue. Romance languages tend to allow for nuance, for mentioning things in a non-confrontational way, touching ideas without committing to them. English tends to aim at "sealing the deal" of meaning.

For better or worse, English is the language spoken by the world. And even more so with music. American pop music is heard across Europe in every shoe or clothing store, and unfortunately in a growing number of cafes as well.

And when the Pope speaks to the young, in Korea, he speaks in English.

This means that the liturgical music resources that are produced in English must be of the highest quality in every way: theologically, musically, and poetically. We can either export shoddy plastic gimmickry, or produce beautiful art that aims towards perfect praise.

There really should be no question about which direction is appropriate.
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