Monday, 14 March 2011

Language: The many faces of it.

Webster was not wrong when he boldly stated that “Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God.” But no one in the world, except for the likes of Shakespeare himself can master their competency in language, that’s at least what I feel. Because you and I, every one of us knows that language is so very easy yet so difficult at times. We are taught the nitty-gritty of language beginning with the alphabets ABC, through words and sentences, and slowly we move on to the rest.
Language, whatever or whichever it is, is the medium of communication, it’s a means whereby we get to every ends. Human beings are blessed and gifted to have the power of speech. It’s wonderful and yet very amazing that among a million species and organisms on earth, only the homo-sapiens have the ability and agility to understand and use language for various purposes.
Twittering birds, roaring lions, grunting pigs, chattering monkeys have their distinct language, but it’s sad to note that they have for no avail. However they bellow, roar, grunt or chirp, the message may not be conveyed up to their expectation. With a distinct language for each region, each cast and creed, fellow humans are bound to take on their wishes and desires, their wants and needs- just by communicating and communication does it all.
Now, to further discuss about how and why I find language so baffling at times, I think a lot many of my readers in your own life might have come across the twists and turns in language. To take a simple example, in English language, words usually become the opposite of what they actually mean when prefixes like un, in, anti, etc are added, but I was surprised to learn that ‘valuable’ and ‘invaluable’ meant the same. Don’t words become their antonyms when the prefix ‘in’ is added? Invaluable actually should mean something of no value, or something worthless, but it means something of high value.
We can take the example of a ‘hot dog’ which is neither ‘hot’ nor a ‘dog’, a guinea pig, which is neither a pig nor from Guinea. There are numerous such other examples. Some words are spelled the same, yet they have different meanings, some have same pronunciation, but they are not spelled the same way. Some have plurals; others have past tenses while others have neither of the two.
Language is difficult to understand and it’s too tough at times to justify why something is right or why it is wrong. We just can say that something is right because it is ‘right’ or something is so because it is ‘so’. Although some rules apply to language, some defy these rules and move away from the trend. We are left astounded with the word “exception”. Because anything that seems mysterious or anything that looks extraordinary is an “exception” they say.
Thus, it’s all messed up, it’s so confusing. Language is a maze, it’s a mess, and all of us have to find our own way out of this mess. But like it or not, language is here to stay, it’s so beautiful and it shall continue to serve its purpose, it shall serve humanity, no matter what. Three cheers to the great minds, three cheers to the Bard.

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