Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quote: Language

Human beings are meaning-seeking creatures. Unless we find some pattern or significance in our lives, we fall very easily into despair. Language plays an important part in our quest. It is not only a vital means of communication, but it helps us to articulate and clarify the incoherent turbulence of our inner world. We use words when we want to make something happen outside ourselves: we give an order or make a request and, one way or the other, everything around us changes, however infinitesimally. But when we speak we also get something back: simply putting an idea into words can give it a lustre and appeal that it did not have before. Language is mysterious. When a word is spoken, the ethereal is made flesh; speech requires incarnation — respiration, muscle control, tongue and teeth. Language is a complex code, ruled by deep laws that combine to form a coherent system that is imperceptible to the speaker, unless he or she is a trained linguist. But language has an inherent inadequacy. There is always something left unsaid; something that remains inexpressible. Our speech makes us conscious of the transcendence that characterizes human experience.

Karen Armstrong

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