Sunday, February 06, 2005

Windows to the Past

The language, whichever it is, is a fundamental part of everyone?s lives. Just imagine how it would have been if there was no language. If we begin to ponder about the necessity of a language, it takes us back millions of years ago to the time of human evolution. True, the language we use is as old as the human race itself. Each word we use today has its date of birth ranging from many thousand years ago to a few decades earlier. With every word we use, we are using a part of history. We are handling the result of human intelligence, in its purest form. So, logically, the usage of each word should give us the same feeling of exhilaration as having a Michelangelo in our drawing room.

But none of us ever feel that way. Language is perhaps something that has never got the respect it deserved. It is unfortunate, but true that we all take language for granted. We regard language as a set of symbols. We regard language as if it was issued by the government on morning and proclaimed that it was for the public to use. We fail to realize that each word was born due to a series of events. Each word is like a window to the past. Each word came about due to a dire necessity. Each word has a story to say. Each word has lived through thousands of years and has undergone many changes in its spelling and meaning.

English is a rogue of a language. From differences in pronunciation like ?put? and ?but?, to silent lettering in words, to obscure grammar, the language has always tormented its users. But it is these supposed imperfections that make this language a loveable rogue. What makes the English language more interesting than the others is that it has words with roots in nearly all European and many Asian languages. It has words borrowed from Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Czech, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Arabic, Persian and our own Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. It even has some words, which are derived from proper nouns. No language can boast of such levels of adulteration?!!Etymology is the study that deals with the origin of words. Etymology can be a very interesting hobby. We can go through volumes of history with a single word.

At least, if not anything, let us be conscious of the fact that that, what we are having at our mere disposal is indeed the greatest invention of mankind.



5 comments:

Mohan said...

How can a word derived from another language be called adulateration? Especially if it is effective?

anyway..its gr8 u are putting posts like thism maga..keep up the good work...

HeShoots_AndScores said...

Not entirely a contradictory view... but in some senses... I think language is given too much due in many cases.
To me, language is useful as much as it allows effective communication of what I intend. ANything more is frivolous (charming sometimes... but not in itself a great asset). Anything less is room for improvement.
It is also why I am not too fond of authors who write too much to express the language and not so much to express an idea. I have a similar problem with programming languages... and why I cannot commit my life to a 'language'. It is, after all, a way to alleviate the rote of human computation.

Vaish said...

I agree with Gee. (In fact, I couldn't agree more!).
I agree with Sups. :)
I disagree with Harry.

If I could've, I would've loved to live a life dedicated entirely to languages, the amazing sources of joy that they are.

HeShoots_AndScores said...

Ah Vaish.
I don't think you got what I intended to say.
I agree that devoting time to the languages is great. In fact, I was watching a program on PBS on the evolution of 'surfer dude' language... and it's fascinating. Very insightful.
On the other hand, I don not like authors like Vikram Seth too much... because they tend to be so extremely verbose that it's painful. A vocabulary is only as useful as the idea you present. Words in themselves (without a good underlying idea) are about as evocative as a dictionary!

the k factor said...

In response to Suppu's comment...
I do not mean that the language from which the word is taken is inferior or that it pollutes the english language by its presence. It was simply a remark to describe the profound influence of other languages on english.

In response to harry's comment...
I have not said abt the usage of words... I am talking abt the words themselves and the study devoted to their origins...Perhaps the line "Language is perhaps something that has never got the respect it deserved" was misleading...

In response to Vaish's comment...
thnks..