The late Nelson Mandela once said:
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
Recently, Emma Watson’s speech in the United Nations got a standing ovation. In the words of Gustave Flaubert:
“Human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we tap crude rhythms for bears to dance to, while we long to make music that will melt the stars.”
In the first stages of our lives, the first thing we learn is how to name objects and people. We become fascinated with words and their pronunciation. For some of us the fascination continues and it turns into a love and passion so strong that we end up playing with them and creating poetry, stories and novels.
According to Richard Lederer:
“English is the most widely spoken language in the history of our planet, used in some way by at least one out of every seven human beings around the globe. Half of the world’s books are written in English, and eighty percent of all computer texts, including all web sites, are stored in English.
English has acquired the largest vocabulary of all the world’s languages, perhaps as many as two million words, and has generated one of the noblest bodies of literature in the annals of the human race. Nonetheless, it is now time to face the fact that English is a crazy language — the most loopy and wiggy of all tongues.
In what other language do people play at a recital and recite a play?
Why does night fall but never break and day break but never fall?
Why are people who ride motorcycles called bikers and people who ride bikes called cyclists?
Why- in our crazy language- can your nose run and your feet smell?
Why do we call them apartments when they’re together?
Why do we call them buildings, when they’re already built?
Why is there no synonym for synonym or thesaurus?
When we explore the paradoxes and vagaries of English, we find that hot dogs can be cold, dark-rooms can be lit, homework can be done in school, nightmares can take place in broad daylight while morning sickness and daydreaming can take place at night, hours- especially happy hours- often last longer than 60 minutes.
Why is it that a woman can man a station but a man can’t woman one, that a man can father a movement but a woman can’t mother one, and that a king rules a kingdom but a queen doesn’t rule a queendom?
Language is like the air we breathe. It’s invisible, inescapable, indispensable and we take it for granted.”