“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell, 1984

 

“silence is the language of god,

all else is poor translation.”

Rumi

 

“When you're drowning you don't think I would be incredibly pleased if someone would notice I'm drowning and come and rescue me. You just scream.”

John Lennon

 

We all know words as both a bridge and a barrier. Right now, we’re experiencing a situation where we don’t have the words we would have at home as we face a language barrier. This is obviously a way in which the stranger is already at an arm’s distance from us. 

But it doesn’t stop there. Even when we share a language, words can be used as weapons. They can be used as comfort. And sometimes we don’t even notice the difference between the two. What feels comforting to me might highlight another person’s “otherness” and increase our emotional distance.

Words are incredibly fragile, but we necessarily use them all day, every day, with limited time to process our choices, weigh our options, examine all the variables and pick the best one.

 

1 Comment


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