In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Seven Wonders.”
I love Khalil Gibran. His prose flows better than most poetry. His language is the language of my heart made magical by a master’s touch. I remember the exact words which made me fall in love with him.
“I have found both freedom and safety in my madness; the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us.”
– Khalil Gibran, The Madman
If the master of prose believes that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words, then there must be some substance to the thought. Somehow, these are not words I would agree with.
Language has always been a wondrous thing for me. It is right up there with the wheel and fire as the most important achievements of humankind. Language as a tool of communication only embraces the most basic of it’s capacities. Communication can be achieved by sign language. And just to be clear, I mean written and spoken language when I say language, not sign language.
As we evolve language is not just a medium to express your thoughts, it has become thought in itself. A rich language allows you to perceive gazillion more shades than a plain-vanilla description. Trust me, even black and white have shades – shades you can not imagine by yourself until you chance upon the exact word. There a billion individuals, each with a billion-and-one thoughts unique to them. A bare bones language is just not enough for all this richness. It’s like trying to cook all cuisines with the same ingredients and spices. You can argue that it takes only 7 basic notes to create Mozart’s symphonies. But it’s more like you need only the 26 letters of the English alphabet to create the most inspiring works, rather than we needing a set of 1000 words to express our thoughts.
A person is considered fluent in a language when they understand the idioms and metaphors of the language. It is not the words that count but the intent behind those words. Therefore, you will see variations of language – different dialects, cultural influences, etc. Even individual interpretations of language – connotations – like ‘literally’ using literally literally everywhere.
Limiting the vocabulary is like limiting thoughts. Limiting thoughts is limiting human perception, expression, creativity – all the qualities which make us humans, and more importantly, uniquely human. All in all, it belittles the human existence. Who knows the horrors of this better than George Orwell
you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed, will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten…. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller.
-George Orwell, 1984
Newspeak brings out the true horror of the crime. It continues to mesmerize me. How such innocuous sounding word can mean the death of civilization – An idea so small in the bigger scheme of things.
In short, language needs to expand, grow, evolve and adapt with us if it is represent human thought. Controlling a language is stunting and suffocating consciousness.
If you want clarity, use Maths. Language is obfuscation. Language is Art!!