Dominant languages infuse their verities into the wider world, crowding out alternative visions from more minor tongues. Linguistic asymmetry isn’t new—over the past two centuries, Latin, classical Chinese, and French each took a turn in the sun—but never has one language so completely eclipsed the rest, Mizumura says, as today, in the age of the Internet, with English.
When writers stop writing in a language, that language decays. People lose faith in its ability to bear the burden of their fine feeling and entrust their most important thoughts elsewhere.
A writer writing in English can count on her words reaching people all over the world, whether in translation or the original, but there’s no guarantee English-speaking readers will ever encounter experiences first framed in Japanese.