Language for Life

14

“For me, words are a form of action, capable of influencing change.” – Ingrid Bengis, American author

What would we do without a language as it’s an essential part of any educational or training process: from reading kid’s books to writing a PhD course work, from learning to communicate with classmates to speaking to the public and so on.
By definition language is a set or system of symbols utilized to convey an idea, thought or emotion. It is, perhaps, the single most important component conceived within the timeline of human existence. Constantly evolving and forever changing, language tells our story, forges our path, reflects on our progress, unites and divides us. Its inception opens the portal of communication and provides the vehicle with which any and all information can be transferred. Whether it be recounting a historical event, describing a California sunset or simply communicating an afternoon greeting, language exists in all walks of life.
Language is the foundation of learning, the purveyor of experience, an ambassador of emotion, and the tie that binds our society and cultures. This lifelong learning starts with your first word and proceeds to success in the future. With language, a coherent bridge between ourselves and the rest of humanity is attainable. Whether it be gesture, speech, or the written word, it is a fundamental element of daily existence. From the basic element of survival to the highest echelons of critical thinking there must be a comprehensible method of disseminating the information trapped within our minds. For a long time psychologists and linguists have been contemplating either it’s language that makes us perceive the world like we do, or no matter what language you speak reality does not change. Can it be possibly true that it’s because of language that one culture responds to the same situation differently than another one? Am I a better artist because in my language there are names for almost all tones of colors, thus I perceive it differently? Join the club as the answer is still not found.
For those who come after as well as those who we may not know, our language is the first contact. The most important defining factor of who we are, what we have done, will do, and in many cases are capable of. Our language is the first tool that all children have in order to achieve any future. A majority of schools now provide us with a basic knowledge of English (or other regionally required language) so that we can communicate with other cultures. It’s too bad that we take intellectual growth provided by knowledge of several languages for granted. Multilingual readers, think for a second how your knowledge of languages made perception of the world around you differently and start seeing it’s value. Remember in previous days, when all the highly intelligent and royalty of countries were required to study several languages?
Although language importance is indisputable, its origin is still very much a topic of debate. There is no firm statistic which links any language to its absolute origin. For some, it is thought to have developed along with our own Darwinian evolution, for others it is an intrinsic ability based upon our genetic makeup. Regardless of its theoretical beginnings it is now a fully established mechanism, abundant with rules both expressed and inferred. From a historical perspective, the advantages are obvious. An account of those who had come before us, what they knew, solutions to the problems they had faced, and any other all encompassing aspects of life prior to our beginning. This recognition continues to propel us into the future. It solves crimes and cures disease. It is art and science, religion and leisure, the best of our culture and inevitably the worst. Language is responsible for war, suffering and persecution. It is a powerful asset, a devastating weapon, and a potentially magnificent device of benevolence. Depending on its application, with language, any desired effect is conceivable – it’s connecting and dividing people of same and different cultures.
Though it is a static concept in theory, in practice language is an ever-changing, technicolor montage of cultural reflection. Ngugi wa Thioungo, a Kenyan author, in his book Decolonizing the mind, the politics of language in African literature addressed to  language as the soul of the culture. Not only is your language your identity, it’s also a sort of marker of the culture you belong to; one example would be cultures in Africa that identify each other only through language.
Rules pertaining to language are generally defined in the written word and surmised for a large part in other formats. They are designed to facilitate an apprehensible exchange between parties wishing to communicate. In many cases rules are built to accommodate the particular cultures in which they are spoken or exchanged. They can vary depending on which particular corner of the world one might find oneself in. Language will cross the cultural divide, twisting and morphing time after time to fit securely within the society in which it lands. In this perpetual ebb and flow ideas are continually cycling and recycling. Meanings change, new words and phrases are adopted and those which have fallen out of favor are left by the wayside.
Language is constantly evolving. New gestures, words, and phrases invariably appear. The trend of the modern day will often dictate the appeal of certain popular verbiage and conduct, illuminating a particular time and place. It is the varied composition of each individual’s perception and their ability to express these ideas which lends to the infinite possibility of our modern vernacular. What use does modern society have for language? On an elementary basis, it was hypothesized to be a critical element which separates human from animal. Without it we would be very much alone, millions of separate entities unable to share a single notion with one another. Trapped in our own minds and bound to an innate social necessity, frustration, despair, and hopelessness would eventually take hold while society inevitably disintegrates. Every day the global expanse becomes smaller. Modern transport and technological advances enable us to reach out and interact with those further away than we ever considered possible. Not to mention the Internet that has managed to create its own unique language that is surprisingly comprehensible for almost everyone in the younger generation. Words derived from one another’s languages have created this sort of ‘online slang’ that brings a gap between generations but unites cultures in a way. With its perpetual adaptation and evolution we will unlock the mysteries which have eluded our comprehension between ourselves, nations and continents.
Language is essentially one of the most important aspects of human society now and in centuries past. Whichever form it may take, it is the window to every culture that we may encounter today, the historian, leading us on a journey through the catacombs of the past and a reporter broadcasting the headlines of the day. All knowledge we have acquired has been procured by its devices and all of our interaction a product of its invention. Language can be the key to open the doors of virtue and the lock which barricades the passage to success. Understanding the basic principles of language and enthusiastically pursuing its limitless capacity will grant us the tools we need to bridge the gap in a fluctuating world community.

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