As often as language is used with great facility to promote beauty, express deeply felt emotions, and convey vital information, it is all too often used malevolently to pit nations or communities against one another. Rather than promoting peace and understanding, it can undermine these aspirations. We have asked our panel of global experts to weigh in on this critical question about the use and abuse of language.

People who argue for language restriction often attack the evolution of both language and the society that uses it. Seven years ago in Egypt, bloggers broke a taboo by mixing standard Arabic with the colloquial Egyptian dialect, attracting millions of readers to their blogs. This in turn led newspapers, and then publishing houses, to start mixing the old and the new. This new “Egyptian Arabic” language permeated the archaic rules and vocabulary of...

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