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Comment on Is Language a Window into Human Nature?

Eli Horn Wed, Aug 20, 2008
This is a subject that has me thinking a lot lately. I think when approaching the idea of a new language, maybe the best place to start is Why? What do we want to communicate that our current language is not allowing for?

I notice falling back on different languages for different areas of thought


Lateral's response made me realize that our language is as good a tool as it was meant to be. The languages that we use most now (spoken/written) would not have been invented as the catch-all form of communication that we use them as. In discussions regarding language I often hear (and repeat myself) that our language doesn't allow for the subtleties of emotion or the absurdities of our imagination. The cultures from which these languages emerged would most-likely (I'm no anthropologist, nor was I there to experience the forming of our languages, so this is all blatant assumtion) have already had a number of ways to express these things through music, artwork, dance, body language, touching, etc. It seems to me that considering these facts, our language probably originated as blunt commands ("Give chicken", "Go to river" ) that may have been harder to express through a dance or a song, and was not intended to be used to the extent that we use it today.

Of course we have developed this form of language far beyond blunt commands to encompass a wide range of emotions and abstract concepts, but in doing so we have lost most of fluency in the other forms (music, art and dance), so much so that they now all fall under one umbrella (arts) which continues to be an elective study. These languages still have a great deal to do with our lives but they have been delegated mainly to a one-way form of communication: an artist produces a piece of art/music, releases it in a gallery/album, the audience takes that message and interprets it as they please. But even then, we are so out of touch with these languages that we feel the need to explain them through spoken/written words.

Wildcat—I fully appreciate everything you have pointed out at this point, but I don't think that a new language necessarily has to be a developed through technological means. I imagine that we have everything we need to within us (or at least much more than we're currently using) to communicate the subtleties that evade this language. Unfortunately humans seem to have a tendency to rely heavily on a single-minded approach, to a lot of subjects, that allows the devolution of the alternatives.
Maybe it's time to bring art and music back into education (I say back, but when has it ever been there?!)—and not necessarily as a way to make things pleasant, but as a building block of communication.