Archive for May, 2007

What is a language?

Maybe it’d be appropriate to begin this blog speaking about the way I understand language, so that we can take off from common ground. For me, you can’t speak about what a language is without speaking about how you use it. I think, to a great extent, using a language is like playing cards.

If you’re familiar with any cards game you know not always the one who’s got the best cards wins. Good players are those who can administrate the cards the have, sometimes good, sometimes bad, paying at the edge of the game rules, but also taking into account the other players’ behaviour. A player who has excellent cards but doesn’t observe his partner and his opponents will probably loose. A player who is not very lucky, but who can make the others believe he’s got good cards may be a winner. So, becoming a winner doesn’t depend only on how long you’ve played that game, how much you know about it, the cards you have in a given moment, what you think the other players have, how good you think your cards are or how good you can make other people believe they are. Being a winner depends on all those things. And above all, it’s something that doesn’t last long. You win or lose a round, a match, a game… but there will always be another opportunity to win and to lose again.

Well, what I mean is that I believe when we speak a language we use it to make sense of what is going on in the world –with the other players and within ourselves too-, to make others believe things – like that we have good cards, like we know the game rules-, and to structure our moves in a strategic way, a way people can understand and connect with us. Of course some people can do that better, but the point here today is that it is language the one thing that allows all of that. You call it a miracle, you call it a system, you call it whatever you want. For me a language is a resource to live better, more deeply and more beautifully. It’s a key that opens cultures to you. And the more keys you have, the more doors you can open, the more intensively you can experience the contact with people, what they know and believe.

I hope this introduction will help us know each other. Let’s play together and have fun with linguistics, critical discourse analysis and social semiotics.


May 31, 2007 at 5:14 pm 2 comments


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