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Deconstruction of Our Language
@conster I like this point especially when considering multiple languages. Every language may have a word for the same thing, but they could still hold different connotations or even slightly different vibes to them. I want to take this in the direction of phrases beyond words. In spanish, to tell someone how old you are by saying "Yo tengo is 17 anos" which most directly translates to "I have 17 years" rather than like in english we say "I am 17 years old". They clearly both mean the same thing but they definitely give off different auras. I think that is just a clear example of how something can have the same meaning but also not really
When we deconstruct language I think of similar languages like Italian and Spanish. Many of the root words and syllables are the same, but not the same language whatsoever. When we break part a language are we seeing where it has originally come from to better understand it's meanings, or are we seeing it for what it is now as a way to examine how its developed and what it means now. In simpler terms, should we focus on the past of the language or where it stands now?
@mangoman I think that this is an important question that you bring up. When looking at this question through a deconstruction lense, I think that the past meanings of a language are what Derrida would want to look at. To find the original meanings of all words, you would have to look at the original unchanged versions of words. But even then, that would not be the true meaning because everyone interprets the words differently.
@mangoman This reminds me of our discussion of the word "hysterical" when we read Turn of the Screw. When we hear the word now, we just think of someone with uncontrolled emotions. We don't associate it with a particular gender--at least not consciously anyway. But when we look at the prefix "hyster-", we see that the origin of the word was a sort of slight toward women. I think, similar to literature, words and language should be looked at in both the contexts in which it was written/created, and the current context (and even contexts in between). What I mean is, when we look at words, like hysteria, look at the original meaning and intent of the word (for hysteria, it was to describe irrational or even unstable women). But also look at how we view it now (hysterical is now used to describe both men and women with uncontrolled emotions, but it could also be interesting to look at how we may unconsciously associate it with its original sexist nature, and see how that affects our understanding and use of the word). And in some cases, maybe look at how its use changed over time (was the word used differently in the 1950s than now? Probably. Go back to 1800, 500, even times BC). Looking at it from its different contexts and uses gives us a better understanding, similar to how we learned that being informed about others' perspectives gives us a better understanding of literature and other topics.
@mangoman This is super interesting!! When we learn languages like French and Spanish, it's easy to see their connections to each other and other languages. I think that we should look at languages as how they are now as opposed to how they once were. I think this because it is the most accurate and up-to-date version of them.
@snowyyeti This is really interesting!! When we think about deconstruction it would only make sense that the oldest, original version of the language is the one we'd inspect. I wonder though, wouldn't this not be the "true" version? Since there have been changes and updates to the language, isn't the most recent version the most accurate?
@nicole Your point sounds a lot like Bakhtin's ideas about meaning, which are interesting. I think that today's linguists see language and its meanings as constantly changing, slang is the biggest example that I can think of. I agree that it is more valuable to look at original meanings and what it changes into than try to pinpoint just one.
@mangoman I think that it is important to focus on both the older versions of the language and the newer versions. For example, outdated languages like latin are very very old, but they're important in our society as they create the roots of many many languages that we use modern day. It's important to use older and newer versions to learn literature from all time periods. For example, our modern day English language is very important as it's our day-to-day speaking, but we also read and analyze lots of literature written in older English like Shakespeare. I think it's unfair to limit ourselves to either the modern or the older versions.
@nicole I feel like that's with a lot of words or phrases, we don't see them as being super significant until we have something significant to relate them back to. We read a thought provoking novel like Turn of the Screw and now words or ideas are shaped by the book. It's weird to think about the different ways out ideas can be shaped through another perspective.
@salmon this is really interesting and actually a topic I've had with friends and family before. It is truly bizarre to me for a person who can't speak have the same context or idea on objects that surround them. Or at least that was my thinking in the start of my discovery. After multiple discussions I found that the person still yields hearing and thought, and your thought is language but just to yourself. So if taught correctly and they have the resources at hand wouldn't they just be able to read and assemble the thought of that word with a picture if shown? But then to transition to your final statement words that might have multiple meanings would they be able to gather all those interpretations? Or would they have to learn them as they go...
@delphine Just like you mentioned how important older languages are, Ive noticed how much latin shows up in our current world. For example, a lot of things to do with biology and the medical field involve latin in the names of certain subjects or subcategories. If everyone knew older language such as Latin, we would easily be able to identify certain parts of the body which are named off of Latin words as what they are.
@alechayosh07 It can be boiled down to a simpler conundrum of "thought without communication," I think. If you can't communicate ideas to someone else, how exactly do those ideas take shape in your head? The problem with that is that it's probably unknowable, since to be informed about that, you'd have to communicate with someone who can't communicate, and it would be lost if you got it to work. Language is just a tiny part of communication, so I find it so fascinating that so much of our studies revolve around it. Though I suppose non-verbal communication has to be really complex, and can't exactly convey lengthy ideas like a book can.
@a2m0n2 I totally agree! I love that you incorporated non-art/literature into the conversation as well because, although we are a literature class, it's important to discuss other groundbreaking concepts and movements as well that are interconnected to literature. Language is necessary for sciences and maths, as it can be argued that they are languages in themselves in a way!
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