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I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
Maybe because I don’t have a beach at home, but the beach speaks to me during my time here. In its language, it calls me. It begs me to come out.
The language has several forms: the view of the vast water, the feel of the powdery whitish sand on the way to the waterline, the ease of walking on the packed sand at the waterline (especially at low tide), the feel of the breeze, and hear its message as air whistles by my ears. Let’s not forget the light and warmth of the sun. Each speaks in its language – but collectively delivering the same message – come to enjoy and relax.
Whether written or oral, language is a method of communicating with words constructed to deliver meaning. A person’s language ranges from eloquent to foul, clear to muddy, inspiring to boring, praising to degrading, and many more descriptors. This interchange of words can deliver a wide variety of meanings and intent. Plus, the words are subject to different interpretations by the listener.
Language tells stories, shares intellect, expresses opinions, communicates results, recalls memories, proclaims feelings, paints pictures, allows responses, and even changes minds – all that and more with words.
Language is a way of communicating information, ideas, and feelings. When we think of language, common thoughts include words, vocabulary, phrases, writing, verbal, native tongue, dialect, linguistics, lingo, slang, and gestures.
Our choice of words (along with inflections, tone, and body language) express who we are – our character, our identity, and a sign of where we’ve been plus where we want to go. Yes, our language is a reflection of ourselves.
Language and its complexity are aspects of being human. We can choose words, apply meaning, and ask questions. And to think, we must learn and maintain language – let alone be the most important aspect of all levels of diplomacy.
Children learn a language by listening as they absorb it like a sponge. At age 5, I went to Italy for 6-8 months knowing English and some Italian – but returning fluent in Italian and having to reassimilate into English.
We live in a world of 5 to 7 thousand different languages, plus dialects. Each language is based on one of several hundred different alphabets – yet, all languages are an expression of human culture. Humanity has languages written with letters, symbols, and characters – some for sounds, but not all. Over time, languages evolve while remaining part of the culture. Then again, some languages fade into oblivion.
I think about how language built civilizations throughout history – so language has and will continue to identify cultures and social norms – different cultures with different languages and different ways of treating letters. Vine in English is wine in German, but wine in German is vine in English.
The human brain is the language center controlling what we say, how we say it, and the mechanisms involved – a brain applying meaning to what others say – a brain working with other body parts to speak.
All speech involves moving air from the lung, vibrating vocal cords, and different positions for the tongue, cheeks, and lips. Even the nose plays a role. Sounds ranging from guttural to nasal to others allow humans to produce a seemingly endless list of distinct sounds.
Fields of study as medicine, legal, education, IT, science, business, engineering, and more have their specialized vocabulary and phrases. Words have one meaning in one field, but a different meaning in another – let alone a different meaning within the everyday world where all of us interact.
Body language accompanying the spoken words affects the listener’s interpretation. Also accompanying the words are nonverbal clues given through body position, gestures, hand movements, facial expressions, eye contact, use of space, and tone of voice. Again, all subject to interpretation – and yes, I frequently talk with my hands.
Language delivers the emotional food that everyone needs: appreciation, kindness, love, and support. For me, kindness is a language crossing all barriers – kindness through smiles, laughter, gestures, eye contact, and actions. No matter where one stands in the world, everyone understands kindness.
Yes – English is today’s universal language – but it hasn’t always been, and it may not always be.
Language is a deep thought, and to think I’ve only touched its surface. Fortunately, today is a long walk, so I have a lot of time to think about language. Time has a way of delivering many thoughts – so many that I created a second language walk. But that’s OK because I like walking on the beach. After all, it is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about language
- The Importance of Language (essay)
- How I Learned to Speak Four Languages (essay)
- A New Language Born (essay)
- How to Interpret Digital Body Language and Emails, or Not (essay)
- Paraguay’s Two Official Languages (essay)
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