So words matter?

I love reading. More than that. I love words. It has always fascinated me that our world is constructed out of words. The only reason things work is because we agree that that should be so. (Can you tell I almost drooled in existentialism class in college?)

I love these!


I was prompted to think about what happens when you’re bilingual and your relationship with language. I found this nifty article from NPR. Completely worth a read. But, the short of it is: language shapes your view of the world and when you are bilingual you can have different view points or remember different things.

Then I began thinking – well, if you’re bilingual and language is automatically shaping your perception, my monolingual self is making some huge assumptions. This, for me,  highlights the importance of dialogue with others and using your word to create a world for others. I guess that is why we are so big on Acknowledgement at WHO?Bags. In acknowledging someone you get the benefit of having your world recreated and creating someone’s world bigger than it was. I mean that’s the juicy bit!

(By the way we’re acknowledging over at our Facebook page. Come over and share!)

So, if words create your world. And acknowledgment creates two worlds. Why don’t I share more?

For me, it is fear. Fear that I will seem stupid. Fear that I’ll get the crazy look. Fear that I won’t say it right.  And in writing that I see how silly it is. So I’m making a new commitment. I’m not sure what it is yet but it will be around acknowledgement. Maybe a 30 day challenge or a blitz of acknowledging everyone within a 2 ft radius?

Thoughts? What do you think?



Filed under What we are up to

10 responses to “So words matter?

  1. It is definitely something to consider, how different languages shape our perception, especially since different languages tend to come from different cultures. Great post!


  2. Really nice thoughts here Tamay. I wrote a post a little while ago called The Shadow Side of Language.

    You reminded me of what I wrote then about how language forever changes the way that we think about our world. Once you name something, it’s forever that name and it loses it’s mystery.

    It’s similar with multiple languages. Your viewpoint is expanded and you end up thinking differently than if you only had the one. I think this is best illustrated when you have a word for something in one language, but not the other.

    It’s really, really fascinating how words shape our world.


    • Exactly, the article I mentioned talks about how English codifies cups and how Russian codifies cups…and that also has me thinking about cultural context of language and how there is an interplay there. Our experiences within a set place create the need to describe it and that begins to inform how we interact with out world.

      Just like the classic example of how many words for “snow” the Inuit have. I wonder if I had that many words at my command would I appreciate it more?


  3. I lived in Norway for 15 years so I am fluent in Norwegian. I can remember the moment I could suddenly understand and then began to speak. I can honestly say it was an amazing feeling and it has opened up my mind to how little of my brain is in use. When I switch languages I have to also think in the language I am speaking or it doesn’t work. I find that fascinating. I do feel as though it was life changing to speak another language and I wish we would teach children from a young age to speak at least two other languages. I am convinced children learn faster once they have grasped a second language.


    • I completely agree…When I finally get around to child rearing I going for some bilingual kids. I think it does open you up to expressing yourself and viewing the world in whole new ways! Our brains are so phenomenal we can’t even conceptualize all it can do. Also, awesome that you lived in another country for so long!


  4. ha ha yes well your post really resonated with me today. I had a recent realisation that fear has been holding me back from writing and talking about the things I really want to talk about. Worried I’ll be judged as too woo-woo and ‘out there’, so I try to hide those parts of me. Then conversely, fear that I won’t be viewed as spiritual enough. Bleugh! Enough! I am what I am. Let’s kick fear into touch and just be brave enough to be whoever we really are. So I acknowledge you in your awesomeness, Tamay!


  5. OOH an acknowledgement circle. I’m in.


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