- Education and Science
World through the perspective of language
By KARISHMA HYDER
World through the lens called Language
Throughout my life the one thing that can awe me without fail is rich vocabulary and the one thing that can really lower my estimation of someone to level zero is pompousness. I’ll leave it to another hub to discuss the latter. I will concentrate on the English language for this hub but before I start I would like to mention something that I believe to be true.
My native language is Bangla (Bengali), I have picked up Hindi quite well and English, even though not my native language has become my first language. People say that Hebrew or the Greek language is the toughest but then I shall have to say that they have yet to explore Bangla which has two sets of alphabets unlike the English language which has A – Z and you rearrange the alphabets and you get almost all the words in a dictionary. So what is my point here? Nothing as of yet. Let me continue. Through my own experience with these three languages I realized that language really gives a person a characteristic which is inherent in the language itself and it transfers itself to the person who uses that language most among any other language known by that person. What I mean to say is that each language has certain characteristic typical to it which it passes on to the person who uses it.
Train your brain and you shall never be bored
In my attempt to clarify the scenario I’ll use this as illustration: in the Bangla language there are three ways to refer to a person unlike in the English language where the person one is talking to is referred to as “you”. There is no differentiation between the young you, contemporary you or a senior you. In Bangla on the other hand there are three separate words that are used instead of a straightforward “you”. Let me give an example. English: You told me last night that you would go walking with me today. Here the you can be anyone, your friend, a person much younger than you or the opposite. In Bangla we have words like “Tui”, “Tumi” and “Aapni” instead of a simple “you” meaning you for someone very young or someone you are very chummy with, you for someone contemporary or a friend and you for someone older than you like parents and uncles/aunts or someone holding a higher position has different words. It does make life quite complicated. A misuse of these words can lead to a breach of something like contravening the UK constitution. That is to say that no one will punish you for it but it will be frowned upon in most cases. Therefore various words give different meaning and perspective to life which seeps into a person and quite changes or rather grows into who they are. To a person with knowledge of only English it matters not whether the due respect is shown to them with regard to the way they are referred because there really is no requirement and no one’s sentiments or pride will get hurt. While a person with knowledge over Bangla will expect certain addresses to be made to them with regard to their relationship status when talking.
Video on How Languages See Colours Differently
In this way the thought process changes. When I think (literally think things in my mind) in Bangla my view of things are different and it is quite hard to make someone with no knowledge of this language to grasp the meaning. What is right and what is wrong or what is acceptable changes with each language. A language is not just words expressing the same thing just using the same words in a different language. It is a means of expressing ones thoughts by first formulating the meaning in ones mind. Language gives meaning to life.
Do you see what I see?
Languages can help people see and understand colours. I will not go into the details of the science behind it but just look at it from a general person’s view. In some languages there are no separate words for blue or green like in the Chinese language they only have one word qīng to refer to them both. In some languages they do not have different words for pink and red. I have met a person who really did not know the difference between green and blue. The sky and the leaves on a tree were both blue to her. It may seem incomprehensible but it is true and really not comprehending this itself is an example of how our mind is trained by what we know and think is right. People do see colours that they can only name. Language is the tool with which people differentiate between colours. It may seem strange for someone who knows the difference between pink and red to understand why the next person thinks that both red and pink are red. Therefore, the richer ones language the better understanding of this world will they have.
With the understanding of the repercussions of not having complete knowledge or even partial knowledge over any language, and in my case I chose to further extend my prowess over the English language, I took it upon myself to learn more. In my attempt to pursue this quest I tried to start my journey with the Oxford’s Dictionary which proved to be futile in my case. Then about 6 months ago I came across the website of the free dictionary by Farlex online which till now seems to be working just file. I have taken it upon myself to learn five words a day. Sometimes all five words are works unknown to me and other times only 2 or 3 words are new.
So how did the free dictionary help me learn 5 words a day? Well it’s quite easy. On the landing page of that website on the right hand side midway down there is a match the words game. Five words are given on the left and five on the right. All I need to do is match the five words on the left with synonyms on the right. Sometimes I have no clue as to what these words mean but then I try to think and break down each word and see if I can make any heads or tail of them. Through practice I have learnt to correctly answer most of them but let me tell you a secret, I even did as poorly at getting only one right!
You must already be wondering that how can this help me learn words if I just match them on my gut feeling? Well then after matching the words to the best of your capability you hit the show answer button. See the answers and read the meanings of the words with very helpful sentences made with those words. What I do next is just type the news words learn on a word document and make a sentence with it and just save it for future reference. Each day I try to read all the words previously learnt this way. Sometimes I just read the words without reading the meanings.
In this way I can honestly say that I have learnt many new words by taking this small step each day. And hopefully this journey in self education will take me somewhere one day.