the linguist’s curse

the curse of the linguist is perceiving language as something which is alive, as a spirit with feelings and soul.

people see language simply as a tool. heck, most people never even take the time to contemplate the miracle of language. they take it as something given. something natural. some people may stop awhile and think about it, but then brushes it off as simethintg intrinsicly trivial.

worse still, some people blame language. language not being able to express what they want. different languages. language barriers. people fail to understand that language is really such a delicate part of our lives. it is the pulse of communication. it has a soul.

realisation of this soul is the linguist’s curse. all the layers of meaning in a conversation, a sentance, a word, a letter, a sigh, sign language and even in silence. all of this is language. all of this is the concern of the linguist.

it is the curse of the linguist. how words are said or written. where. to whom. why. its response. its facial expressions. its gestures. its voice. its pitch. its intonation. cursive or whole. its spelling. punctuation.

the linguists notices this. all this that people take just as nothing at all has depth to the linguist. language, to the linguist, is reflective of its bearer. it is relective of the state of a civilisation, for that matter. it is an indication of the world we live in.

i tried to convince a friend this morning that all languages are created equal. there may be older languages. there may be languages with more vocabulary. there may be languages derived from other languages. but all languages are equal.

he did not get it. he is not the first. many a time i have had futile non-linguist friends baffled over claims on language sophistication. the importance of perfect tenses. why direct translation don’t work. the oceans of differencs between spoken and written language. the differences of contextual meaning. paralinguistic tools.

and many times i have been brushed aside for thinking about little things too much. language contemplation and discussion, as i conclude, is best left to the linguistic savvy. if only people were more aware of such power that can be amassed by language, but then again, maybe not.

i, for one am most interested in linguistic based debates and reflect fondly on all those days in the language classrooms arguing over discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and comparative linguistics.

this is the curse of the linguist.


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