Why I Love Language
Community

Why I Love Language

It's not just because I'm a linguistics major...

1
https://pixabay.com/en/globe-map-country-borders-old-3383088/

Language is one of the most important methods of communication we have with others. It's the way that we express our needs, wants, desires, love, and friendship. Language is the way that we interact, it's one of the ways that we connect and share experiences with others as well. It's something so simple that the majority of us take for granted, having the ability to tell someone you love them or thank someone who does something nice for you. Using language solves problems, it breaks barriers and it gives people the opportunity to share their internal thoughts with the outside world…

But there's only one problem when it comes to this dream reality: we don't all speak the same language.

In the world, there are roughly 6,500 languages that people speak. This doesn't include all of the dead languages that were once spoken by ancestors and all of those before us. 6,500 languages, 6,500 different ways that people communicate together. It's a little crazy, isn't it?

Even if you have some of the best navigation skills in the world, if you were dropped into a random country where you didn't understand the language, you'd have a pretty hard time, right? If you want to ask someone a question you're forced to try to speak with your hands or try to speak slowly to try to get a native speaker to understand you. Despite the fact that you might look similar, or the fact that you're both humans doesn't mean the two of you have the ability to interact with each other using words and language.

That's just mind-boggling.

Learning languages has always been something I've had an interest in. Being forced to take Spanish in elementary school didn't really seem like anything out of the ordinary, it just seemed like another task. Once I hit middle school I fell in love with the language. Learning vocabulary, as well as tidbits of Hispanic culture, were some of the highlights of my days. It was one of those classes I never wanted to miss. This trend continued into high school. Though I missed an opportunity that could have excelled me forward and fast-tracked my Spanish (taking IB Spanish) I decided to go with the different approach, one that didn't just force me to sit there and learn vocab. I was able to take a class about Spanish culture and heritage as well as learn about things such as literature and art, things I wouldn't have learned in an IB course.

AP Spanish was like a flash of color. Being forced out of my comfort zone, having to speak a language that wasn't second nature to me was scary. It was scary having to stare at my peers, the majority of them native speakers, and share the same story as them. It was intimidating, but seeing them understand my thoughts made it all worth it in the end.

Entering college, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I chose a major and went with it, figuring I could choose something else later on if I changed my mind. During my first semester, I took a Spanish course so I could hopefully choose to minor in it and I fell in love all over again. My professor made me change my major to Spanish, leaving behind the dreams I never really cared about to begin with. From there, my second semester consisted of more Spanish and linguistics, a required course I needed as a Spanish major.

In the beginning, I never really thought much about it. The way our mouths move, the way we produce sound. Those things always seemed fairly straightforward, but it was the broader idea that struck me. Taking anthropology at the same time as linguistics was really my best downfall. I fell too far down the rabbit hole of discovering more about people, the way that people use language to communicate. The way that we speak changes the way we think and the way we interact with the world. Even if you speak the same "language" as someone you might not be able to understand them due to dialect differences, but two people who speak completely different languages might be able to have a full-on conversation. The idea was wild to me.

And so, as the story goes, I switched my major again.

Of course. The indecisive girl who has nothing to lose switches her major yet again with some frail attempt to grasp onto the idea of reality and life after college. At least I can say I love it here in my little linguistics home.

My language resume is only set to increase. Currently as I sit here I'm learning three different languages: Spanish, Japanese, and Old English (think Yee Old English and then a little older than that). These languages though they might seem so different and diverse because well, they are, hold so much knowledge that I'll never be able to fully grasp.

People tell me I'm crazy for taking three different languages courses, but when I looked at my schedule I as nothing but excited. I was immediately looking forward to soaking up new vocabulary and ideas, new cultures and new methods of communication.

Communication doesn't only come with words, and nor does language. Language can come in the way we carry our bodies, for example in Japanese culture it's customary to bow to people you interact with and the lower you bow the more formal it is. Despite the fact that there are no words involved, you're speaking with your body. The tone you carry only progresses into the language you carry.

Why wouldn't you want to learn another language? Why wouldn't you want the ability to communicate with others? Those are two questions that have always struck me, especially with the culture of the United States.

A cultural melting pot of different languages and experiences, yet today in our society the thought of teaching languages other than English is preposterous because "English is the superior language" or whatever else they're saying. It's true that English is widely used around the globe, but why does that mean that kids should be prohibited from learning more, broadening their horizons? Language opens up a part of the brain that can flourish when given the opportunity, and all of those opportunities are slowly dwindling away here in the states.

I look at the countries in Europe which require their students to take three to four languages that aren't their native language and I can't help but admit I'm a little jealous. I wish I'd grown up in an environment that stimulated me and my ability to speak other languages. After all, who wants to be the foreigner in a country halfway across the world pulling out an English-Other language dictionary on the street to ask where a bathroom is? I don't think anyone wants to be like that...

If I had the ability to take one semester of every language course here, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even the ability to say "hello, how are you?" can make such a drastic difference in the way you see the world because you're looking at it from someone else's perspective.

Sure, it's not comfortable at first. Nothing is super comfortable when you first do it, though. Am I an expert in Japanese? Absolutely not. Quite frankly, it's been a struggle to wrap my mind around a language that's so different than anything I've ever experienced before, but I know that once my mind fully understand and everything clicks into place, a whole section of my brain is going to light up and it's going to help me pick up other languages faster in the future.

I love language. I love talking in other languages, I love the ability to learn more about people through languages. Language is so interesting because it's something we all have and we all understand but it's so different. The way that I form sentences here as I write this is different than the way I would write it in Spanish. The blue dog becomes the dog blue. Or what about in Japanese where the sentence order is different. Instead of the dog is blue it would be the dog blue is. Isn't that wild? Don't even try to get me started on explaining Old English…

If I could say one thing to sum up this whole story of words and characters is to take a language. Take Italian, French, German, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Greek, Latin, Sign language, Turkish, Zulu, anything. Just take one course and watch yourself grow. It's really a fantastic sight to see, and maybe even one day you'll love language as much as I do and decide to take three of them at once.

Gracias

ありがとうございました。

Thank you

Merci

Grazie

감사합니다

Mahalo

Spasiba

谢谢

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Taylar Banks

May 25, 2020: the day that will forever be remembered as the day George Floyd lost his life at the hands of cops.

The day that systematic racism again reared its head at full force in 2020.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 17 Black-Owned Businesses Ship Baked Goods, Rosé, And Even Fried Chicken Nationwide

Eat your way through this country's greatest food — from your couch.

Call it the easily bored Gemini in me, but I'm constantly looking for new food to try. Usually, travel quenches my taste for new and exciting cuisines, but given the fact that international travel is not always a possibility, I've begun exploring alternatives.

In the interest of wanting to support the Black community and Black-owned businesses, and also wanting to try some of the country's greatest food without having to get off my couch, I started off (pessimistically) doing research, only to find that the options were vast.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

24 Beauty And Style Brands Donating To The Fight To End Police Brutality Against Black People

From small, boutique brands to legacy fashion brands.

The worlds of beauty and fashion often collide, whether for good or bad. In both, underrepresentation has always been, and remains to be, a major unresolved issue. After the recent killing of George Floyd, many people are rightfully enraged, compounded by the fact his death in police custody wasn't an isolated incident.

Police brutality against Black people is not new, and isn't going away till we start dedicating resources to fighting it. Many of us, as individuals, have only begun in the last week scratching the surface of what it means to educate ourselves on race, historical race relations, and how to be an ally to the Black community.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Can Still Connect While Disconnecting From Social Media

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a lot going on right now, particularly in relation to George Floyd's death, Black Lives Matter, and public protest of racial injustice in the United States. While we can all agree that this deserves conversations, change, and actionable good, social media arguments with Great Aunt Linda are not where social change begins and ends. Spending too much time scrolling through your phone has never been healthy, but now it's even more addicting — what does that one person from my hometown say about this? How can I further education within discussions? Am I posting enough?

Keep Reading... Show less

I don't know about you, but reading is at the top of my to-do list this summer... especially with all the social distancing I'll still be doing. If, like me, you're hoping to pick up a romantic page-turner (or a couple dozen), here are 23 romance novels by Black authors you'll absolutely LOVE reading.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

22 Black-Owned Etsy Shops With The Perfect Gifts For Everyone In Your Life — Including You

Treat yourself and your loved ones while supporting Black creatives and artisans.

R-KI-TEKT, Pontie Wax, Lovely Earthlings, and blade + bloom on Etsy

The world is taking action against the injustices and under-representation plaguing Black lives, and one small but impactful thing you can do to actively make a difference is support Black-owned businesses.

Etsy is likely one of your go-to sites for gift-buying, but have you ever paid attention to which independent artists and sellers you're buying from?

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

True Self-Care Is HARD, That Face Mask Isn't Actually Going To Solve Your Problems

There's a line between self-care and self-destruction.

Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock for the past few years has seen something somewhere about self-care whether it was on Facebook, Twitter, or their Instagram feed. Oftentimes it's pictures of celebrities or influencers sipping green smoothies or slathering on mud masks with #selfcare. It's posts like these that made me realize that "self-care" has become the ultimate buzz word, soaring in popularity but in the process, it's lost most of its original meaning. It's time to set the record straight and reclaim the term.

Although self-care has been around for quite some time, within the past few years it's been misconstrued and commodified as our capitalist society tends to do with things it thinks can be profited off. Self-care is now being peddled as something that can be bought and sold on the shelf at Target rather than something that takes real work to achieve. This fake self-care movement is not only enabling people to over-indulge themselves, but it has created a crutch for people to avoid the responsibility of taking true care of themselves. Instead of doing the work that needs to be done, many people fall into the trap of rewarding themselves for doing nothing at all — this can quickly become an unhealthy coping mechanism, especially with corporations cheering us on (to buy their next product). Long, hard day at work? Just grab your third iced coffee of the day! Fight with your SO? Buy that 50-dollar face mask, it'll make you feel better! This is how self-care becomes self-sabotage and self-destructive.

Keep Reading... Show less

Minorities are consistently under-represented in our day-to-day lives, notably in the world of fashion. It's likely you're looking for a way to support black artists. Whether that's the case or you're just a fashion-lover in general, these brands aren't just some of the best black-owned fashion brands — they're some of the most innovative brands of our time, period.

From luxury staples to fun accessories and loungewear, these brands aren't just stunning names you should definitely be following on Instagram, each honors the founder's roots in unique ways with the power of storytelling through artistic expression that manifests in pieces we can't wait to wear.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments