“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett
I sent a message to my friend today saying that I am already researching the next courses which start in January by printing out the syllabus and looking at the books. He just sent me back this:
Okay, so I stop. However, I am done packing for my upcoming trip to Germany tomorrow and just wanted to answer the question that came up several times from readers of my blog. “What are you studying in Canada? What is this Linguistics thing all about?”
I always loved languages – it is my thing. Learning new languages, studying English, bring it on while I rather leave any numbers, math and statistics out of the picture. I asked myself many times how language shapes the way we think or how Petit Joel picks up three languages so easily and speaks at least two of them completely fluent. When I found out about the Linguistics Program at Carleton University,which came up first in my google search I just knew this is what I want to do. So I applied for it. Simple! I was really happy when my application had been accepted and that I am able to focus my research on Forensic Linguistics. But what is Linguistics?
Do people who speak different languages think differently? Or does our way of thinking change, once we learn a new language? Does Petit Joel think differently when he switches quickly from German to English or to a bit of French? Yes. And the language we speak has some type of effect on our surroundings. I think language is just amazing, a gift and our tool to communicate; this gift to communicate with each other makes us human. [Animals communicate differently which makes the human language so unique. Watch Project Nim to see how they teach a chimpanzee Sign language! Amazing; I cried most of the time throughout the move, eh!] Through language, we can understand humanity and just keep in mind how many languages are out there. Researchers state that there are approximately 6000 different languages spoken and each and every one is just so different in many ways.
What would we do without language? How would we express our thoughts? So much good stuff to think about. Like every language requires so many things of their speakers. Someone who speaks German for example, do they think and remember their experiences differently just because they speak this language? And isn’t learning a language so much more than just regurgitating vocabulary? We learn about the culture of the people and can include this nicely while you study the language. This semester I learned in one course about Words and Meanings in different cultures, how salient it is, how we are “Imprisoned in English” in one way or another and try to translate everything into English to make sense of it. I learned about small Aboriginal Canadian and Australian communities/ethnic groups and how they communicate. What words they use for “time” or how the Wendat tribe for example does not even have a word for “time”, “government”, “law” or “obey”. Isn’t it interesting to find out if language is indeed the factor that creates these differences or some other aspects of people’s cultures?
Enough nerd talk! This is what I did these last weeks and days in a nutshell: studying, researching, learning and hanging out at my favorite independent bookstore to write all those papers and assignment. Now it is time to relax and read for pleasure for a while until the next semester starts in January. I have a myriad of books that are just waiting to be read and I will pick one or two (besides one academic one: NERD!) to make my flight as comfortable as possible. Petit Joel has his own books and toys already packed up in his little backpack. So cute. He is so excited.
My life, besides the gallbladder issue, is pretty sweet these days indeed. Traveling the world, studying and finding home wherever my passport stamp takes me – there I land and make/made the best out of it, is a great thing. I was scared initially but I wanted this more than anything and I knew it won’t be easy in the beginning. But life is not easy, so I try to figure it out. I think, deep inside we all have this freedom to move around, travel, dance and play as we want to. We just have to take that first step and conquer fear and push ourselves a bit. Then built up strength along the way. And nobody can ever take this experience away from me. This was my choice and I treasure it – this freedom to move, discover and explore. One again: Deep inside, we all have this freedom to move. Have a great day.