There is a 140 character limit on micro-blogging platform Twitter, one of the top 10 most visited sites on the Internet used to share anything from real-time news to mundane activity updates. It’s a short sentence or two if you were to ‘tweet’ (or micro-blog) in English. But in Mandarin, 140 characters is enough to write a short story.

In the Christian Bible, the story of the Tower of Babel shared how the people of Earth wanted to build a tower that would reach heaven and prove humans could be equal to God. God says in Genesis 11:6,

“If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.”

To save them from their pride and arrogance, God created language to divide the people, thus never completing the construction of the tower.

The nuances of language is fascinating. Some languages are rich enough in vocabulary to describe the parts of a bicycle in one or two sentences. While other languages are more conversational and would probably take a paragraph or two to do the same. Hence, the ability of a language to effectively transmit information may hinder the growth of its citizens if schools in a country prefer using their native mother tongue as the medium of instruction.


Students discussing homework before school begins at a private school in Lvea Aem District in Kandal Province, Cambodia.

Students discussing homework before school begins at a private school in Lvea Aem District in Kandal Province, Cambodia.