Language must be humanity’s greatest two-edged sword. For something that has elevated human thought, achievement, and perception, language has been the benign-looking, elusive microbe deconstructing collective human consciousness, consecutively and simultaneously creating and demolishing cultures and concepts thereof as it prances around time and space. (I sincerely apologise for not being able to resist that Doctor Who reference. It’s RIGHT THERE). That relentless, never-giving nature of language is what perplexes me the most, and thusly charms me to no end. A person’s manner of speaking does not only carry vocabulary acquired from baby teeth and onwards, but every piece of food stuck between them, every flavour, the dull geography of the surroundings (all geography is dull and you know it), even the basic physics of the universe. So when you utter that compliment/racial slur, you do it through what is basically the in-built Talking Tom app that renders any loud thought bouncing around your head into a setting-inappropriate squeak.
NO ONE IS SAVED!
I mean it. No one is spared. Not even this post, which I’m typing in English because… I’m desensitised to English mockery and sense of disaster? I’m too apprehensive of the overwhelming nature of Arabic? See, even I, an incredibly tiny speck in the course of humanity, am divided between my own mother tongue -don’t even get me started on dialects- and a language I chose to pick up because, as every other sane and cool preteen, I adamantly loved and still love Backstreet Boys. I may have acquired a broader overview of the world with every new metaphor I learnt, but that view is perceived through a kaleidoscope of all the fragments of understanding which fool me into seeing the peripheral as central.
The enriching nature of language, along with the nature/nurture element it carries, is also inherently degenerative. The human mind and its experience of the world relentlessly give new methods of expression, sometimes for the same exact experience. However, all the aforementioned steps that language undergoes to reach formation add to that about-to-be-expressed thought sending out a connotation-laden utterance with, apprehensively so, a context.
You have to understand, I hate context. If only for the sole fact that empirical truth wheezes into dust in its presence. Or non-presence. Or both. Not just wheezes, the process is anything but dignified. The idea of context takes the attempt of establishing empirical truth, rolls it up in a bunch, and wipes its ass with it.
Now void of absolute truth and burdened with context, a thought has to traverse culture, time, place, history, age, and setting to reach the intended recipient. Now mostly two or three of these factors have to be taken into account. Your barista really doesn’t give two tosses about the origin of your name to spell it correctly. They don’t even give one toss about spelling your name correctly. But take a look at how religion is passed down to us, and how many groans you utter when you realise how the one language with time difference fucked everything up for you. How those words decomposed into vague syllables rounded up to the nearest available meaning, how ballpark our understanding of them is, how we patch the fractions together but the jigsaw puzzle doesn’t quite fall into place every time. And most of all, how terribly, terribly context-bound it all is.
Language is divisive more than it is unitive, human nature suffers to rise above it, and the only way to do so is to succumb to language.
Disclaimer: I enjoy insulting the things I adore. Admiration loses its charm and I need a punching bag. If you think this was a passive go at religion not language, you will be that bag. If you think I’m attacking your language, whatever your language may be, I am. All of them.