Friday, October 18, 2013

Mystical, Magical WORDS

The BSF teaching leader shared a quote the other night about attitude. I don't remember the quote. It was a pretty good one. But it immediately floated out of my brain cells because my mind started to wander as I considered that word:


Amazing, isn't it, that we have a word that communicates that idea? I mean, it's easy to understand how we'd come up with words that mean “table” or “shoe” or “angry”. 

But “attitude”. That's such an abstract thing. I bet the vast majority of us, well-educated and otherwise, would struggle to come up with a definition of “attitude” off the top of our heads. “It's . . . you know . . . the way you think about something . . . and feel about it, kind of . . . and the way you act . . . you know . . . your attitude about it . . . oh, wait – I mean . . . “

But we all know what it means. And not because somebody gave us a definition at some point in our growing up years. We all simply heard the word used over and over, and eventually, we were able to construe what that word was referring to when people used it. Even if we couldn't explain it with other words.

Language is the most fascinating thing ever. I mean, the whole concept of language. That we put a bunch of sounds together in a certain combination and when someone else hears that combination of sounds, they get an idea in their brains that is more or less just like the idea that we have in our brains. Absolutely amazing.

In one of my grad classes, we did a unit on language development and talked about how the known methods of learning cannot account for how a human being acquires language in the early years. There simply isn't enough repetition or modeling of every word and/or grammatical structure that kids pick up during that time. There seems to be some in-born knowledge . . . or skill . . . ability . . . something that scientists can't explain . . . which dramatically speeds up the acquisition of language. But only in those early years – that window is shut around six or seven. (Which, of course, makes it so logical that we in America generally put off foreign language study until high school. Puh.)

Words are a mystical, magical, unexplainable phenomenon in humanity. I guess that shouldn't surprise us, considering that God-in-the-Flesh is also named “The Word”.

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