Tag: Native American languages

Reframing: How language shapes perception


/ Photo by recursion_see_recursion /

Language shapes reality. Flip open your English dictionary. Leaf through several pages. What do you notice about all those words? The English dictionary is filled with nouns. For the English language, a dictionary is essentially a lists of things: ectoderm, marble, surveyor, and tortoise. The English language is accomplished at describing the material world. It is utilitarian. It is a language focused on precisely describing the material world in order to control it.

English has become the pre-eminent language throughout the world, the primary language of business, the Internet, and international politics. In that sense English has become a bridge between countries, nations, and cultures. English is also good at incorporating key phrases from other cultures as well as youth and techno culture: café au lait (France), delicatessen (Germany), wowser (Australia, New Zealand), or blog (online journal). English can be innovative, colorful, and far-reaching in its scope. These are some of the strengths of English as a global language.

But something essential and vital is missing in this utilitarian way of communicating and organizing our thoughts.

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