Monday, 28 October 2013

WordPress Daily Prompt: Seven Wonders

Khalil Gibran once said that people will never understand one another unless language is reduced to seven words. What would your seven words be? 

Photographers, artists, poets: show us SEVEN.

Up the hill and turn to the left.

So let’s talk about Seven. The photo shows the path to the part of the village where I live and in the background is the ever present first chain of the Jura Mountains. There are altogether seven chains, beginning at the northern edge of the middle land in Switzerland. If you climb the first chain you arrive in a valley and then appears the second chain and so on over seven mountain ridges until you arrive in the flat lands again. From my area you would be reach Basel if the Jura was not in between, which is also on the border to France and Germany, so imagine that language mixture which brings us to the subject of the blog.

Naturally, being an ignorant infidel, I had never heard of Khalil Gibran. Not wanting to be left out I had a quick look up. It seems he died somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, being born in the 19th so we never had the chance to meet. I had a glance through his works and discovered it is probably not my sort of thing, although I would not say that his books are not interesting. He seemed to have a few quotes in stock with sense behind them, but reducing language to seven words is rather extreme.

I noticed some of my blogging colleagues mention George Carlin. Basically I do not know this person so well although the name rings a bell. I discovered he is a comedian and even found seven valuable words to use, although more for using when angry, injured or annoyed, so-called swear words. I also have a few in my vocabulary, even in two languages: English and Swiss German. Believe me Swiss German have more than seven and some can be quite colourful.

I am now not going to bore you with my choice of seven words to replace the many others in our language, but I gave this problem a thought and decided to base my research on the process of elimination.

Who needs definite and indefinite articles, they are superfluous (so is that last word). The Russians never even have them in their language. Do we really need adjectives? They can become the words of insult, so let us cancel them. If you happen to be speaking or leaning one of those languages where you have case forms, then adjectives complicate everything. You have to conjugate them. There we can be thankful that the case forms in English have either disappeared or no longer play an important part. Now if you are speaking Latin (no wonder it is a dead language today), German or Russian, you will never get the hang of it. You can learn it, but when speaking time is lost by exploring which word to use in the correct version and I definitely dislike losing time when speaking, it is a waste of time and energy..

You want to speak arabic, then you have a problem. They even have sun and moon letters and slip the word for “and” (wa) in between each word in a list. Yes, they have very long lists – bread and butter and tea and fruit and jam and and and etc. We have now reduced the use of adjectives and articles. Prepositions can also be a means of complication. Some need the dative case, some the accusative and some another case belonging to some other language. One way or the other who needs them, so just eliminate them.

Nouns? Why not, just point at the object you mean. The object is not present? Then do not use it. Do we really want to talk about things we cannot see? Just save it for a time when we are there and can point to it.

We have verbs describing an action. Does it really interest anyone what you are doing, thinking or saying. Your actions are clear to be seen, so why use a verbal description?

Basically I think I have just eliminated language as such. There is not very much left, except for the swear words, so perhaps George Carlin is right.

Personally I think this Khalil whatshisname missed the point somewhere. Reduce my language to seven words? What a boring life. I love talking, having a conversation, I even talk to my cats when no-one else is here. There are times when alone that I have quite an exciting conversation with myself and seven words would never suffice. As far as understanding is concerned, if I want someone to understand I manage. Sometimes having a loud clear voice suits the purpose. And if I something annoys me, I drop a hammer on my foot or shut a finger in the door – then I can always revert to the George Carlin linguistic talents.

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1 comment:

  1. Seems to me if one reduces language to only seven words it would greatly increase lack of understanding.