Friday Philosophy…Language

I listen to NPR. I know, I’ve become that boring parent who inflicts talk radio on her children. I do this every day. My daughter is into the storytelling aspects (“UnFictional,” for example) while my son LOVES politics. I’m as baffled by this as anyone. I’m not a citizen here, so I cannot vote. To have someone who has definite opinions and wants to listen to every scrap of news about the candidates throws me. Still, at least they stopped complaining about talk radio. 🙂 After I dropped them off this morning, I was listening to the story of an 8 year old boy in Italy who coined a new word. His teacher corrected his work, but told him that he had made a “beautiful mistake.” The word was “petaloso” – which means “full of petals.” He had been asked to describe a flower, and, of course, a flower is full of petals. His teacher is on a mission to help this boy get his word added to the dictionary.

This got me thinking about language in general. I had a professor who once told us Rome hadn’t fallen because Latin was still used, at least in academic circles. But then, my Latin teacher told us that Latin was a “dead language.” Grossly divergent opinions.

But language should be a living, breathing thing. It evolves (or doesn’t, if you look at some archaic versions of French spoken in Quebec). Words are pure magic, capable of creation or destruction, depending on the choices made by the speaker.

So, some other thoughts on language for a Friday afternoon.

“Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” ~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

“We die. That may be the meaning of life. But we do language. That may be the measure of our lives.” ~ Toni Morrison

Blessings to you all, and never give up. If you have the time, use “petaloso” in your social media – that will help a young Italian boy create more beauty in his language!

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