Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said: ”The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” A clear reference to how language shapes who we are and how we think. Language becomes one of those invisible constraints that we take for granted, unaware of their existence.
Learning a new language is an effective way of widening your perspective. Doing so, I’m afraid, takes a little longer that we would like, so I will try the closest thing I can come up with in this post: words that exist in other language but have no direct translation in English. They represent ideas that are relevant enough for a culture to baptize them. Surprisingly, something so significant to be named by a culture didn’t capture the attention of our ancestors. They signal potential gaps, concepts worth considering ourselves despite our culture’s collective apathy. Check some examples.
Kintsugi, not only a word but a complete art in Japan, is the act of fixing broken pottery with gold. When your bowl breaks in an accident, this Japanese art will assemble the pieces using gold resin as the fixture between the pieces. I love the metaphorical significance: our fractures gives us character, make us who we are, arguably are our most valuable feature.
Gezellig, Dutch word that denotes something close to coziness, but probably more than that. Laying out the living room to create a nice environment to have a late night drink with your friends, soft and warm lights, right temperature, comfortable armchairs… that is gezellig. I love the idea that there’s something in the environment that needs to be taken care of. It is that awareness of the physical conditions around us that I find so lovely. I would have just brought the drinks and started talking.
Komorebi, the effect of sunlight filtering through the leaves of a tree. We all know this. We just did not have the sensitivity to give a word to it. Beautiful.
(Check our this article for more. Spanish readers will rejoice with the choice our word. So appropriate.)
So yes, language provides the build blocks of thought. Give two children a different set of lego pieces to produce whatever they want. I’m pretty sure the result will vary significantly depending on the set they were given. Swap the two children and there’s a chance results are consistent. That’s what language do for us. It shapes our thought, and therefore, shapes our view of the world.
That’s why when I was asked to start writing in Spanish I was so scared. I don’t know what I think of the world in my language. I’m not a fluent writer in my mother language. I don’t really know what type of person I am in Spanish. I’m not sure what will come out of this, but I can guarantee you something: it will be different. (It won’t take long to notice.)
I’ve been working on it for some weeks now, registering domain names, installing a new blog engine in my servers and trying to figure out what my voice is in my own language (I will need some weeks for that, so bear with me until I get there.)
I produced a totally raw site for this (it´s my MVP, my alpha version.) What you will find has no attention to detail whatsoever. I didn’t want my obsessive character to hold this any longer. It may be fun too to watch me fiddling with the design of the site until I settle, so you will get to see a lot of choices. It is, in the end, an experimentation ground, in more ways that I can describe here. Those ways will unfold to the reader as we go along the peculiar journey I have in mind.
So… it is not without excitement, fear, and some mental exhaustion that I’d like to open the doors to something new:
I hope you like it.
Btw, the site has no comments or visit tracker, so I’ll be blind for some time on the reception. Leave a comment here, send me an email, WhatsApp me or something if you want to give feedback. And if you like it, don’t hesitate to share it on your network, some journeys are better done in company.