It may seem like the smaller languages of the world don’t have any role to play in global events or trends. The interest that missionaries and indigenous groups have in them might seem altruistic and important for matters of faith, but of little import to the grand issues of our day. But this impression is false.
Increasingly, groups that function primarily in a relatively small language such as Hausa or Pashtun, are having national and international impact. These groups use these languages to recruit, to spread their message, and to create a sense of unity and identity. In their homelands, few people know English. So presenting an alternate message in their homelands only in English serves little purpose. But, it is possible to present a different message in the language of the people. In fact, if people in their areas are to have access to different ideas, it will be through the medium of the language(s) they use.
Hearts and minds can only be touched through language, specifically the language that goes deep into their hearts and minds – the heart language or mother tongue.
When the two superpowers dominated geopolitics, a handful of languages might have been enough to address the geopolitical ideological environment. Not any more.