Sunday, 16 August 2009

Introducing Language- Why is Language important?

Dolansphere Volume 1

You might think language a peculiar topic to begin to write about- it certainly isn’t one that often penetrates our minds. Language is something so ordinary that we use everyday with everyone that it seems such bland topic for us to really give any thought to yet is so intrinsic to defining who we are.

You might think of me as a ‘half baked’ language professional of sorts, I’ve been a university debater for some seven years now; the university essentially pays me and my friends to develop the language skills of others, occasionally sending us travelling to pit our linguistic wits against other institutions all of which have a vested interested in showing off the best language showcase they can. They do this of course because it is universally recognised that good language skills allow us to create opportunities for ourselves, how can we get what we want unless we have the capacity to articulate our desires? Learning how, when and whom to do this with is valuable tool for everyone.

For those of us who aren’t debaters or actors, poets or novelists language doesn’t have to be a distant concept to us. Although you may not be a 'language professional' it still affects how we are perceived, how we think and eventually who we become as a result. Furthermore we are all appreciators of language whether it be use of allegory in a novel, using a metaphor to explain an example, or using a simple proverb to inform our thinking on a particular topic. Language in all its wonderful complexity has one element that really stands out: its capacity to unify ideas.

So it would seem apt to me to reflect briefly on the nature of language. I was meant to be giving a workshop today developing language skills. Alas that was not to be, and so I committed finger to keyboard and decided to not let my thoughts on language be condemned to the foggy ether of whence they came like so many of its promising brothers. This verbal amble will probably need a little bit of a pre-determined path to prevent us getting lost along the way so I will outline briefly what I wish to cover as I meander around the idea of language.

This article will be split into three areas. The first area will look at how language affects who we are, looking firstly at how it affects how people view us but more internally how exposure to language affects how we understand concepts. Secondly I wish to examine how language is a constantly evolving form of communication and how we might better sculpt a more positive, more effective means of relating to one another. Thirdly I want to briefly comment on trends in language and using my more colourful friends as examples of what I love and hate about language.

I hope you enjoy it.

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