Archive

language

Think about it.

When I was at school, I remember learning about a poem in English entitled “My Blue Umbrella”. The poem was about a child’s acquisition of language, learning the names of things. But as the child learnt the proper names for things, it lost its ability to creatively express itself. The title itself, My Blue Umbrella, was not in reference to a blue umbrella at all, but a peacock. The child, not yet acquanted with the name of the creature, had had to come up with a way of expressing itself. So, whilst we require language to effectively communicate with others, we lose something in the acquisition of this language. We lose an innocence and brazen creativity that we’re blessed with from the moment we’re born.

However, even once we’ve acquired this language and the words of the language to – presumably – express ourselves, our feelings and thoughts, to others without difficulty, this is often not the case. I read a quote once that states “language is the source of all misunderstanding”. And part of me has begun to believe this is absolutely true.

When we’re learning a language, be it for the first time or the tenth, we’re given words. But what we aren’t necessarily given is the meaning, to us as individuals, behind those words. Think about it. How do we know what nausea means? No one sat us down as stated that for us, individually, when we feel queasy, as if we’re going to throw up, then we will be feeling what is referred to as nausea. To complicate matters, look up nausea and it’ll define it as when you feel queasy; look up quesy and it’ll define it as when you feel nauseous. There are no hard and fast rules that what a word means to one person, it will mean the same to another. And it is this that really messes things up.

How can relationships end when people make vows to love and cherish one another, until death do them part? To all intensive purposes, to love one another forever? Well, because of the language. What forever means to one person, doesn’t necessarily mean it’ll mean the same to another. The same with love. I tend to shy away from using the word unless it is absolutely the word for the feeling that I have, and it is for this reason that I’ve used it sparingly. But luckily, due to this over-cautious nature surrounding the word, everytime that I have used it, I have meant it.

I think we all need to make an effort to say exactly what we mean, and mean exactly what we say. If you don’t mean forever, don’t say it. Don’t love someone, don’t say it. Rather hurt someone with the truth, than protect them with a lie. We could all do to be a bit kinder to one another when it comes to our words. And maybe we need to start listening with a little more critical analysis of what it is we hear. I’m guilty party number one when it comes to dissecting every little statement a man makes in the hope that his “I don’t like you,” actually means “I will love you”. Talk about wishful thinking.

Let’s make a mid-year resolution. Let’s be honest with one another. Let’s listen and really hear what it is that’s being said. And let’s not waste time any longer on those who can’t tell us what it we want, and deserve, to hear. To a world where creativity thrives, and words mean what they say! Hear, hear!

Advertisements