Between the world and the word

The mission of language is to better seize and describe the world. Left to their own devices, languages adapt to their environment, grow and multiply.

Nevertheless, they remain economical. The linguistic footprint stays low. Aristotle noted that the synonyms and the homonyms (and homophones, by implication) of a language are the expression of an anomalous development of that language. For why would a language need several words to mean the same thing? Or the same word to mean several things? While in many languages synonyms born out of contact between languages, like words from one language adopted into another, Aristotle’s point stands. Language is simple, neat and clean, or at least it tends in that direction. Unnecessary complexities in language, oral and written, tend to fall off over time, like the morphological case system in English or muted consonants in French.

We breathe and move in the space between the world and the word, where both become intelligible due to the polarised charge between them. A wordless world is hardly a world at all. It’s the boundless expanse of silence, a space of unutterability.

Equally, a system of words uncoupled from reality dissolves itself into meaningless, an experiment in nonsensicality.

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