How to Understand Speech through Language
There is a fundamental problem with understanding language itself. The lack of comprehension makes it hard to recognize speech through other forms of communication, such as writing or reading. This lack of comprehension might explain why it’s difficult to formulate sense words for our sense objects: We can’t think of language as something separate from the world around us.
While we seem to understand individual words, it’s still much more difficult to comprehend speech using singular, multiple, or fraternal singular pronouns (hence the neologism word “opposite”), or the nouns that occur in the prefix “par” or “pp” (e.g., right-hand sandwich, parrot).
For language to become an active component of our thought process, rather than being a mere recipient of it, we’ll need to (slowly but surely) start thinking of it as something that is experiencing it. In the long run, this is what language hope to become.
Recently, David Harrison from the University of Wisconsin explained how the word “liken” originated in Sanskrit. Since that word had a dual meaning (“neighbor” and “relative”), it gained a place in grammar and syntax as the “likie” of the verb. This “likie” quickly became a prefix, used to emphasize meaning and to render signals as ones that are either the same or different from ones that possess a different prefix.
We may immediately think that we don’t have to bother learning how to use the proper prefixes and suffixes in order to draw connections between ideas and semantics, but I beg to differ. One reason to learn, especially in today’s digital age, is to hone your Grammarly app by shifting out of regularisms and learning to view language as its very own interpretive language.
To understand the metaphor, consider a collage made of different objects—say, work items, or movies, or photos—and how they might be mixed with each other. You don’t use a palette of overall composition to create a collage but you do use a palette of subtly different colors, patterns, and sizes to develop a collage. Once you master the art of the collage, the tools you used to tell separate stories suddenly make sense. And that story of the collage, no matter how it formed itself, is the reason it’s visually appealing.
A similar metaphor can be applied to thinking about language itself. Words are made up of an array of colors, which, when split into a hundred pieces, form a collage. Of course, the examples above, and more abstract ones like “gender” and “SBS,” seem to embody a simpler usage of language—how much a thought applies to a single text and what may happen to it in different contexts.
However, the metaphors can be applied to any spoken or written word, and to phrases too. Imagine understanding the text you are reading. You may not have gotten the meaning of it previously (or not completely), but the vividness and quirky nature of the communication could be enough to make you seek an immediate evaluation of the subject.
All of this makes perfect sense once you start making connections between language and language use. Thinking of language as words making up something like a collage—as a compilation of unrelated terms such as “your” and “you’re”—really begins to become possible, and it isn’t until you begin to move away from rigid grammar and English vocabulary that you will be able to appreciate the meaning behind words, pronouns, and grammar.