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Rebel without a cause!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

For the love of langauge

Language is one of the most complex inventions of man. It is the power of communicating with others through language that was responsible for seperating man from the rest of the animals and is at the base of human civilization.

Yet language is such a complicated thing, and it is a real wonder how in a small span of few thousands of years, so many languages evolved on earth. And each language is unique. There is a branch of psychology which looks into the aspect of wether language affects the way we think or did the way we think shape our languages. The well known example for this is the presence of more than 20 different words for different shades of white in icelandic language, who are surrounded by ice most of the time. So here obviously, the environment shaped the language. But does an icelander have a better and more complete perception of white than the rest of us?

It is for this reason that learning a language also expands our thought process. For some of the peculiarities of a language can never be translated to another. And once we know a language other than our mother tounge, we are also able to make that mental process involved in that phrase which might not exist in our mother tounge.


Sumit said...

heh ... just scrapped u abt new languages :P .. deep thoughts these !!

Sreekumar said...

Hey sumit,

Haan my take on the importance of languages!

Mosilager said...

it's really odd how tamil is similar to finnish and hungarian... mind boggling (bloggging) stuff. Korean uses the same words for dad and mom as tamil... i love finding those similarities... each language also seems to use bad words with similar meanings :)

Sanket said...

Very good thoughts. It's seemingly impossible to understand the complete nature of languages.

video said...

Languages are facinating.... I didn't know that tamil was similar to finnish or hungarian. Must pay attention next time. But it is amazing how similar sanskrit is to european languages. Proof that the Indo-Aryan invasion may have taken place, I suppose.
But also, who's to say that animals dont have their own languages? I remember reading that dogs from china and India bark differently.

Sreekumar said...

@mosilager: I have heard about that too...but I think not that much research has been done into that area as about the similarity of Indo-european languages?
So let me propose another wild theory. A dravidian invasion theory of China and korea! Just for fun.

@Sanket: Thanks for ur comments. yes indeed it seems like that.

@video: I am amongst those who are not fully convinced yet of the AIT. Need more convincing than just the language. And animals do communicate but I guess they have not evolved to a stage of language.

Brownie said...

I agree with you that each language is unique. But I also find it very interesting at how similiar they can be as well.

Take Tolkien's Sindarin and Quenya forms of Elvish. Very similar in look and feel to Welsh and Finnish.
Or how common word forms are found in many western (and therefore Latin-based) dialects.

A very interesting subject I wish I knew more about...

Sreekumar said...

@brownie Thanks for the visit. Yeah languages having common origin are indeed very similar.
As for Tolkien's languages, I think he was a master story teller, who was obsessed with making his fanatasy seem as realistic as possible. I just admire the hard work he must have put in making up these languages and their scripts! He must have used the existing languages as some sort of prototypes as he used the existing mythology in many parts of the world for his story.