The late William Burroughs once said, "Language is a virus from Outer Space." It is an odd infection indeed, and yet as common to humanity as to be one of its defining characteristics. After whatever initial struggles we go through learning to speak and then read, it becomes such a facility with most of us to learn and adapt language almost without any cognizance of our doing so. Even so -- we are still 'contained' within whatever language "infections" we are exposed to. Learning to speak English or German does not automatically give you the ability to understand Swahili or Chinese.

There are only so many perceptions that the human species can name and so much of our experiences are universally shared. This allows for the amazing (!) characteristic of language that it is for the most part capable of being translated. On the other hand, human cultures and ways of thinking and relating are so diverse as to render some turns of phrase and words as "untranslatable." This appear contradictory, but is immediately understandable -- especially with any who have cross-cultural experiences.

How do language and images come together? In a strange way, it's a lot like words and music. The picture seems most often to take the forefront of cognizance, while the words are more subliminal. Even when careful attention is paid to the graphic presentation of the fonts with which the words are displayed, the awareness the viewer has of the words and their content of meaning is usually secondary to the image itself in the audience's consciousness. Nonetheless the words indelibly color the meaning of the image and lock down the interpretation of it. In some ways this can be a limitation, but it also allows for greater clarity of intent. All-in-all the combination of words and images present a challenging set of media for the creative person to explore.


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Comment by Matu Felciano on February 21, 2010 at 3:40pm
in any case,speak on
Comment by Tobeimean Peter on August 14, 2009 at 8:07am
Of course language comes from without in terms of its cultural significance, but it plays to the innate human capacity to communicate. I hadn't thought of the word-mutation angle, but I like it. " Cowabunga !" Also, that's an excellent way of putting it: an "evolution of words." It implies I think that there is a corresponding evolution of consciousness (hopefully through increasing depth of comprehension.)
Comment by Cazilu on August 12, 2009 at 6:42am
I don't believe language is this strange phenomena that comes from without, but something built deep inside our brains that has allowed us to flair, variate, and deviate from the simplistic. Words are given meaning that are slowly changed by 'mutations' in a syllable, a letter, a pronunciation, until they become something else entirely. I find this 'evolution' of words fascinating and beautiful. Thankyou for your post! It was interesting.
Comment by Tobeimean Peter on August 4, 2009 at 9:20am
Well Frazz, that's sort of an open question -- I mean is language really limited? It may be, but people, day-to-day, are always pushing the barriers. That's one of the reasons I love slang and group/local dialects But that's another topic I guess...
Comment by Paula F. on August 3, 2009 at 3:18pm
Language is limited. but let your creativity SOAR.

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