What is the meaning of a particular word? Each meaning derived from a dictionary shows that words are a multi-faceted gem. A rainbow of meanings that, depending on the situation, may alter a sentence in unforeseen ways. How does one interpret a word? It is for the most part subjective since the person reading it determines it through context of a sentence and their own limited understanding of meanings of words. It is so easy to misunderstand, despite one’s attempts to be as clear as possible.
Language this complex interface upon which humanity communicates with one another. It is a delectable and confusing jumble that creates a semi-common ground between those of the same language, and even between languages, communication is fraught with sinkholes and quakes as the speaker stumbles through a new system of meaning that differs either slightly or greatly from one’s own native system.
I sit here and ponder the words that I have typed and I wonder how people will interpret this entry. What is the message you believe I’m trying to convey?
Symbols and characters that devise a meaning to some particular object, idea, concept, person, creature, part of the universe – and even the naming of an object and deriving a meaning for that name is a bit obscure and perhaps random based on the unpredictability of humanity’s different ways of thinking and interpreting the world. People may search and seek to find a universal language – to undo the language calamity of the Tower of Babel – but in the end, the world is too diverse, the native languages already in existence, too strong and enticing, and new universal language attempts never take hold for long once the excitement dies down. Learning a language takes time, and even if one constructed a logically sound or mathematical based language, often its usability is called into question for the language has such a high learning curve that those that aspire in excitement to mastering it and spreading it to all they know are soon hindered and frustrated that their efforts are not immediately rewarded.
Today we live in a culture that demands instant gratification. Learning a language does not allow for that, no matter how hard companies may attempt to construct a program or device or meditation CD that promises to impart language into one’s brain in a matter of hours, minutes, seconds. False promises abound, and the person, seeking to learn a language, is left with the old method of hard work and perseverance as well as many long weeks and months and years of practice. Language acquisition is a challenge, especially once we leave the golden years of early childhood, where are brains are more attune to the sounds of various languages. A young child, especially a toddler, hears the sounds of languages, imitates them, and then constructs meaning from these sounds. We, as adults, attempt new languages in the opposite manner: we construct meanings from the sounds that we hear. Is this why language has become a challenge for those of us in our later years?
Perhaps. In the end, we are still left with these words – words that represent the universe and everything contained within it including our attempts to construct meaning and understanding despite the complexity and confusion at which this universe excels.