Thursday, April 14, 2011

Is Our Language Too Languid?

We all know the adage that how we think can shape what’s around us.  As in think you’ll have a bad day and chances are you will.  But what about what we SAY?

I came across this interesting article on BoingBoing. It’s a report on a presentation, There's Perception, and Then There's Reality, given at Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder by Irish storyteller Clare Murphy. Apparently the way we use language says a great deal about our worldview.

Consider the utterances: I am hungry. I am dying.
In Irish they’re phrased differently: Hunger is upon me. Death is beside me.

Makes quite a bit of difference. Sort of keeps one’s persona intact among other mind shifting.

Something to think about - the way we speak can alter the way we view the world.

Especially intriguing since the idea is brought to light by a storyteller!

1 comment:

Anon said...

And no one knew this better than J. R. R. Tolkien, which is why it's a shame that you can't really get the same kind of education anymore that he did.

In learning the history of language he realized how it both reflects and shapes the way the culture who speaks it thinks--and therefore has this in common with mythology, which must USE language in order to be communicated. Hence language and mythology are like this: *crosses fingers*

Case in point: the word "lord" is descended from a contraction of a compound word that meant "guardian of the bread." Tells you something about Anglo-Saxon culture, doesn't it? Would you call the night watchman at a bakery a "lord" today?