Language can be such a broad and fascinating concept that for some people, like myself, all is language. Life is language, existence itself is language.
Atoms, cells, DNA and quanta each have their own language in order to interact and therefore to exist. Animal language, the language of plants with the sun or with their environment, the language of the body, the language of love…
For some people, like myself, the essence of human experience lies in language and language itself helps us perceive the world as we know it.
I have been recently re-reading some papers about linguistic relativity, the renowned and misinterpreted “Sapir-Whorf hypothesis”, and I re-envisioned one of the dilemmas of linguistics and other related sciences: is language what determines our worldview or is language rather a tool that allows us to perceive and communicate with reality? In other words, what is first, language or worldview?
Well, I think it must be a bit of both possibilities. Probably, there are elements in the worldview that we share with all or nearly all our fellow humans, the so-called universals. However, indeed, there are perceptions and concepts that are influenced by the cultural context in which the individual is brought up, and this cultural context is usually transmitted through language.
I am always amazed at discovering, in languages like Sanskrit or Hindi, spiritual concepts which are very restricted to that cultural environment and which have a very complex translation into other cultures. Concepts like ‘karma’, ‘prana’ or ‘chakra’ require an English explanation rich enough to make us realise that, if we want to comprehend them, we must penetrate a framework of beliefs and a philosophical approach so different that it seems undoubted that the speakers who have interiorised these concepts must have a particular worldview, and this must be reflected onto their daily lives.
On the other hand, English, the culture language of our time, provides the world with concepts such as ‘marketing’, ‘software’ or ‘briefing’, words which speak about business, about technology, about the beginning of the 21st century - new concepts and words for new needs and phenomena.
In my opinion, there is no doubt that language and the languages we learn modify and improve our worldview, multiplying our neuron connections, increasing our cognitive abilities, providing intellectual knowledge and qualifying us with new words for intuited concepts or with completely new concepts. This is one of the reasons why language can play a fundamental role in our life experience.
You can find more information about this subject in this article.