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Words and Sounds and Gibberish

  Did you ever stop to think that every book ever written is just a combination of 26 letters, all muddled up? There’s punctuation too, of course, and sometimes numbers; but that just ruins the effect. This that you’re reading now is just symbols on a page, but and your brain understands them and turns them into sounds in your head. Maybe not even that, but as you’re reading this, you understand it, because if you don’t understand it, you’re not reading it, are you? If I put a paragraph in front of you in Greek, and you don’t speak Greek, you won’t be able to read it, will you?

   If somebody speaks to you: really, it’s just sounds, isn’t it? But you understand it, your brain gives it meaning, you translate it into sense. That’s a funny word, isn’t it? Translate. What about the word translate means… to translate something? Who made the decision that that’s what that sound means? Who decided what was called what in the first place? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. But words really are brilliant, aren’t they?

   And there’s more. Languages. People use different sounds all over the world. We always say that, for example, hola is a translation of hello. But not to the people who speak Spanish. To them, hello is a translation of hola, the same way bonjour is a translation of Guten Tag to the Germans. The only language that really exists to you is your own, and the others are just translations, but to the people that speak them, your language is just a translation of theirs. It really messes with my head.

  So what was the first language? Latin, maybe? Every word we use today seems to derive from Latin, or maybe Greek. So why doesn’t everyone in the entire world just speak Latin? Who said, “right: for each country, we’re going to have different words. Words specifically that country.” Which begs another question…

   Why do languages seem to suit their country? It’s as if Spanish seems an exotic language to suit sunny Spain and French is sophisticated like the baguettes and the Eiffel Tower. It’s amazing how identifiable a language is to its country, almost like a nametag in a way. If we all spoke one language, then would countries still be the same as they are? Or would they be different?

   Who knows? The point is, languages do exist, containing lots of sounds and symbols that mean different things, but, if you think about it – I mean really think about it – it’s all just gibberish, isn’t it?


Rebecca Spruce


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