April 27, 2006

Man's Greatest Invention

It is “language” indeed.

I know it’s a Cultural Invention, but an invention nonetheless. It is one invention that is used by every human being. Even the mute communicates with a language. Language breaks barriers. It breaks borders. How? I like to think it’s the human entity that drives languages. The primal need to communicate, to exchange thoughts and to emote, else there’s nothing more to humans. We are what we are because we communicate. What would be fire if the ancient men didn’t know to convey its uses? What would be the wheel?

The magic of language is that it can be so different yet so familiar. Through language we emote. Emote happiness, emote sadness, anger, fear, joy, criticism, appreciation, we emote hate and we emote love.

The words some times become more than just alphabets stuck together to sense. The greatest woman on earth is a mother. And mother in any language means the same. “Mother” in English is “Mutter” in German, “Madre” in Spanish, “Mère” in French, and “Mãe” in Portuguese. The semblance is just love and nothing more. You call her “Mummy” or “Mom”; we call her “Ammi” in the Urdu language or “Maa” in Hindi. Different languages, familiar sounds. These words are not influenced by English since it was used long before English came to India. I don’t know how such things happen. It seems neither co-incidental nor an influential effect.

Very few people regard language as important. I myself believe that languages are beautiful. I love languages. The pronunciations, the exclamations. I love Persian a language that seems ancient and beautiful. I love Arabic, it’s more of an art than a language. I love Japanese, seems to me the most emotive language. The Chinese and Japanese pronunciation accords to their emotion/feeling. Urdu is my own language; it is one of the few languages that have love, respect and richness in it. It is, after all, an amalgamation of three great tongues, Arabic, Persian and Hindi.

Language defines cultures, peoples, and societies. Everyone knows French is a very romantic speech and the French are quite so too. The language defines the people. With Urdu, it is the regard, respect, and esteem.

The inspiration behind my love for languages is my greatest teacher. He himself was quite fluent in as many as 4 speeches, Urdu, Arabic, Persian and English.

He is and ever will be.

I haven’t learned any languages myself nor will I learn in the foreseeable future. It is a task too huge for me. Withal, I would love to learn a new language – Persian, Arabic, and Japanese makes my list.

Language still remains the greatest invention ever. It permits me to learn about everything around me. The realities, the fiction, the comedies, the tragedies and the essence of being human, all of them reason enough to stuff my rack with more books. More words. More language.

P.S.: Today I am going, yet another time, to my personal little used-book store, Frankfurt. Hoping to buy some more book, hoping to get some more language onto my rack.


sunfever said...

Hmmm...Ok try this one: language is a means of communication. at best it can approximate the contents of a person's thoughts into a conceptual fabric of meanings. sure the fabric is pretty but the bottomline is: it is an approximation that attempts to convey something with variable precision. and like the azimuthal spin of electrons the closer you get to accuracy of meaning the farther away u really are... or so I theorize :-)

Max Babi said...

hi asif, I read a few posts here, and some of the highpowered but misguided comments too... keep writing.. you're on the write track, if you get the pun!
How do you reconcile the fact that languages are poor tools because, [a] when two persons are talking they are never just two but six persons talking...figure that out, and [c] a simple word like "fix" in English has 26 different meanings, how do you select the right meaning, when on 25 other occasions, it would lead to gibberish?
cheerz! See my blog too.