FIVE WORDS – LANGUAGE

Perhaps it is disingenuous to put this word in a list of words. I mean, after all, isn’t this just like saying, “There’s not just five words. There is ALL words”?

Well, the truth of the matter is the word “language” for me encompasses more than just words. There is dialect and slang, etymology, and the differences in word usages among the various languages. For example, Spanish has two distinct words meaning “to know”. One references “knowledge” and the other is an indication of familiarity.

I was once advised that reading foreign novels or poems is solely dependent on the quality of the translation, especially if you are not fluent in that language. What is enhanced, or missed, by a good translation or a bad one?

Whether it is verbal or written communication, language is the primary tool, the machine by which a thought or concept is enunciated. In order for that thought or concept to be properly imparted, the speaker or writer must pay absolute attention to language.

We use expressions in a willy-nilly fashion. Telling someone you will be with them “in a second” is not a true expression of time. With regard to potato chips, asking someone if you can have “one” is likely not an accurate numerical request.

Arguments or even wars can occur due to imprecise communication. The mid-20th century English case of Derek Bentley who used the ambiguous phrase “Let him have it” comes to mind.

Therefore, we must pay strict attention to the sounds and meanings and nuances of language. We must educate and intrigue and, yes, even provoke. The Tower of Babel may have divided us. It is our goal to reunite us.

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