I wanted to write about language for a very long time. The irony, however, is more I learned about language, the ignorant I felt. I always thought ignorance can only be lost but lately, I am discovering that it can as easily be acquired. Here is a three-act process to achieve ignorance:
Act 1: Hunt and gather knowledge.
Act 2: Start extracting wisdom from knowledge extracted in Act 1.
Act 3: Realise you got duped and now the recipe demands more knowledge to brew wisdom.
Act 4: Claim ignorance and repeat Act 1. (I got wiser and realized I needed an additional act.)
Realising the infinite potential of the subject and the self-imposed restriction of 500 words, I am only providing my views on language through three lenses.
“Writing was born as the maidservant of human consciousness but is increasingly becoming its master. Our computers have trouble understanding how Homo sapiens talks, feels and dreams. So we are teaching Homo sapiens to talk, feel and dream in the language of numbers, which can be understood by computers.” — Yuval Noah Harari
The sheer glee of discovering objective tests for the first time; the selection of the perfect emoji from an ever-expanding list of emotional faces; the practically mechanical act of translating my experiences and feedbacks to an integer between 1 and 10 are proudly the most socially responsible act I have done to improve my society and transform it into a fertile technological womb.
“The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words. And if you know the words that the world is made of, you can make of it whatever you wish.” — Terence McKenna
The world we live in is alphabetical by nature. Our mathematics, chemistry, and biology are all governed by basic fundamental units. Our diverse human race is written in a language of DNA, made of just four characters. Computers are an example of infinite rendition of possibilities with mere binary characters–zeros and ones.
As I code, so it becomes. – A developer’s hymn
Mother-tongue is the first piece of software–an operating system and coded instructions–invented and designed by us, to be installed into our wetware(brain).
Under the hood
Language is essentially telepathy for dummies, allowing even the least perceptive among us to ‘know’ by the virtue of being told. It is an elementary, standardized, and core technology necessary to breed culture. Better languages can create better realities. This is as true for humans as they are for computers.
Now for an interrogative encore, if a language is a tool for cooperation and a replacement for telepathy, then have we traded empathy for grammar? In other words, Perhaps, if empathy was graded as frequently as grammar, we could have done without something as rudimentary as language.