How Language Changes Us

It’s such a difference if I say, I am eating a spread from saved vegetables than if I’d say it’s spread with vegetables that had gone bad. 

You feel like a hero, eating saved vegetables, huh?, I say to my friend and indeed a single world can change a whole perspective. What can we say about a whole sentence? What about the abundance of our language and then, of all languages?!?

I never really thought about language and its vast characteristics but now I could easily say that language is the fundament of our community. The awareness for language hit me from all sides at once — in my studying, in the book I read, in the conversations I had.

Language has much greater value and influence in our existence and society than we first might consider. Have you ever tried not talking for one day? I did and it was pretty hard because interactions are simply impossible without language, without sounds. And if you think I could have written all the time or gesticulated then you forgot in what a fast pace world we live in. Even if you stayed only with yourself, you would probably start talking with yourself after some time. 

Choosing your words wisely and the way you speak, is common sense but we often tend to forget how powerful words can be. How powerful language can be become, how it is used to manipulate, allure and rule. 

I remember that misunderstandings were the most common reasons I got into an argument with friends. And maybe even in very trivial situations, we often do not understand what a person might want to say. 

My professor in Philosophy said – Sometimes, we don’t know what we mean. Is this so? Do we say things, we have no idea about? Well, other people can get this impression of one for sure. And maybe we even talk about matters we have no actual knowledge of without being aware of this fact. 

Susanne Langer writes in „Philosophy In A New Key” that language is not complete at all, neither in the way of being complete in itself nor in a way to be sufficient for all the different emotions and situations, we are able to perceive and experience. 

Also, she cites the philosopher Carnap in his categorisation of language into representative and discursive forms, of which for example poems and metaphysical sentences belong to representative language  and complete scientifically language or simply our conclusive logical thinking is discursive.  So, poems and and laughter, for instance, do not imply a concrete meaning. Still they have an expressive function, they convey feelings and thoughts. Just because. 

Language can be a home, as well, I learned recently through the writer Daniel Schreiber in his essay „Zuhause” . And then, when I started to learn a new language (that even has his own script, puh) just recently I began to see that it was a world I am about to open. It feels like an escape from anything that reminds me of m life. Language is a home in a way that we have associations speaking different languages. Some years ago, me and a friend  have even realised that we speak differently. I seem to speak louder when I speak English, and she said, she appeared furious. Schreiber also mentioned languages being bound to memories like for someone who does not speak ones mother tongue as an adult anymore. 

The case about mother tongue is actually a difficult one, I think, since there are children raised multilingual  with parents of different ethnicities. The definition of mother tongue is not simply the language your mother speaks. Sometimes we learn a language and feel that this is our actual home.