I'm really enjoying this book I'm reading:
There can hardly be an awakened human being who has not at some moment, been exasperated by the `publicity' of language, who has not experienced an almost bodily discomfort at the disparity between the uniqueness, the novelty of his [sic] own emotions and the word coinage of words. It is almost intolerable that needs, affections, hatreds, introspections which we feel to be overwhelmingly our own, which shape our awareness of identity and the world, should have to be voiced - even and most absurdly to ourselves - in the vulgate. Intimate, unprecedented as is our thirst, the cup has long been on other lips. One can only conjecture as to the blow which this discovery must be to the child's psyche. What abandonments of autonomous, radical vision occur when the maturing sensibility apprehends that the deepest instrumentalities of personal being are cast in a ready public mould? The secret jargo of the adolescent coterie, the conspirator's pass-word, the nonsense-diction of lovers, teddy-bear talk are fitful, short-lived ripostes to the binding commonness and sclerosis of speech. In some individuals the original outrage persists, the shock of finding that words are stale and promiscuous (they belong to everyone) yet wholly empowered to speak for us either in the inexpressible newness of love or in the privacies of terror. It may be that the poet and philosopher are those in whom such outrage remains most acute and precisely remembered; witness Sartre's study of himself in Les Mots and his analysis of authorized speech. `O Wort, du Wort das mir fehlt!' [babelfishing suggests this means `O Word, thou Word that to me is lacking'] cries Moses at the enigmatic climax of Schoenberg's Moses und Aron. No word is adequate to speak the present absence of God. None to articulate a child's discovery of his own unreplicable self. None to persuade the beloved that there has been neither longing nor trust like this in any other time or place and that reality has been made new. Those seas in our personal existence into which we are `the first that ever burst' are never silent, but loud with commonplaces.
(After Babel, George Steiner, p.184)
Too bad this book about Tariana doesn't seem to be in either the CMU or Pitt libraries. The review really isn't fucking around talking about the "multilingualism ubiquitous in the area" where Tariana is spoken: "The speakers of Tariana, an endangered Arawak language from the northwest Amazonian jungle, traditionally marry someone speaking a different language; therefore, most are fluent in five or six languages." (from http://www.linguistlist.org/issues/14/14-2132.html)