Jason (jcreed) wrote,

So, I've been trying to reason about the impetus behind my sudden increase in interest in linguistics about a year ago. Part of it was definitely the feeling of having graduated and therefore realizing just how much freedom I have (and truth be told, had before very nearly as much) in choosing things to learn about. In the context of school, foreign languages were just irritating requirements, or else a non-issue. But once the academic horizon held no required classes further afield than sub-branches of CS, huge swaths of humanities suddenly seemed much more cool. I certainly need to get around to reading a lot more fiction, history, philosophy and stuff, but language and linguistics as concepts have been buzzing around passively in my mind for years and years, and so I don't think it very surprising after all that I happened to start digging into linguistics proper as a field in my recreational reading.

But the other thing is that the more I know about particular languages, the more I pressure my brain into fluency in esperanto --- and just carrying on a spoken conversation is a real challenge still, but not an impossible one --- the more I pick up random tidbits about french, spanish, german and japanese, the more I notice how addictive knowing how to say things in different ways is. I feel the exhiliration of knowing how much I don't know, being faced with the hugeness of these incredible structures in use day-to-day around the world that each slice up the space of human experience in different ways. I think to myself that if I only knew more of them I would be able to see the colors and shades and subtleties of the world in a little more precisely...

Probably some sort of Sapir-Whorfian fallacy I'm making in thinking that, but it's a great temptation. Right now I feel just this particular feeling of kinda-but-not-extremely-low-and-jealous-of-those-who-aren't for "low" being any of lonely or sad or unattractive or unpopular or uninteresting or gregarious or whatever, and even more than wanting to not feel this way (because it's really quite a mild sort of bummed-ness, and I'm sure it will pass just as soon as I go to sleep and wake up again) I want to be able to name the feeling for some reason, name it with just one word, and by doing so feel as if I am capturing it, becoming detached from it by being able to label it so. Such a weird desire. Seems almost as if I am tapping into deeper currents of primitive, mythological thinking about language, that knowing a person's name gives you power over them, knowing magic incantations allows you to do things, etc. I know it's all quite irrational, but I can sense my brain being tugged just a little towards thinking that way.

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