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Aaron Black

PH 102

Language is something we have become so accustomed to using everyday. It is our


primary, if not only way of communication in this world and although it may appear in many
different forms and ways, we as humans are connected by the languages we make use of. It also
gives us an identity in this world and is the reason for which we understand and relate to the
things from this world that we encounter in our everyday lives. Looking deeper however into
this, we can see that there are three features that tower above the rest when it comes to our
relationship with language itself.
The three features of our relationship with language begins with the feature of self-
forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is described as when we as everyday functioning human beings
tend to make language disappear, and in one sense, forget that we belong to it. We have become
masters in our own way of the language that we use everyday that we often forget the language
itselfits complexity, its rules, its whole essence. One can say that he takes it for granted as it is
the most natural, convenient, and unobstructive medium of communication and expression in his
everyday activities. He has no consciousness over how he executes language, for he just speaks,
perhaps except when he finds himself hesitating to say something because it might lead to a
conflict with the other person, or because it might be misinterpreted. In this sense it can be
understood that the mark of language is what is said, the content of what has been relayed,
transmitted, and conveyed.
The second feature would be the I-less ness of our relationship with language. I-less
pertains to the language being shared and not belonging to a single individual alone but belongs
to a whole community. The presence of language highlights an existence of others, for language
is used as a medium of expression, a medium for the transmission of ones ideas to another. This
feature can be said to contradict the Cartesian cogito, which understands that the proof of ones
existence is in the individual capacity to think, deliberate, and doubt. In this sense, language
being something of a shared existence means that anyone who speaks a language that nobody
else uses doesnt really speak at all. The analogy of the game is also presented here as it
compares the rules which are present in games to the rules that are to be followed when it comes
to the discussion and use of language. As you start and are new to the game, the rules are very
obvious and easily perceived which creates a constant awareness for the user but as we get more
acquainted and familiar with it, we eventually get used to it and automatically abide by the rules
given. This does not mean however that over time, the rules cannot be changed and revised to
suit new contexts. Just like in certain games, modifications are made to make the game better and
more efficient. This is typically done because these rules are first and foremost, not ours but are
universally applied. Which means that the language that we share in using is very much shared
and socialised among the community. This modification is what makes the game change and in
the long run makes it more interesting and fun to play or in terms of language, use everyday.
The third feature of our relationship with language is universality. This feature is not
very formal or by no means perfect but in this feature we understand further that everything is
encased by language. The limit of the language we are familiar with also is somehow inherently
related to the limit of the world we know. This is because in our everyday lives, everything
whether big or small has a word for it and that one cannot turn off language from our activities
in life. In this sense everything is within language, not in the sense everything can be understood
through, lets say, Nihongo or Sanskrit, but that for ideas and concepts to be understood, these
things have to go through our means of reaching those concepts, which is through language. As a
crude example, an English speaker can only make sense of the world through English, but given
enough time, everything in the world and about the world can be defined and explored in
English, like the physical laws and manifestations of the world, the experiences of people, and
everything else. Our grasp of the world maybe limited, but what our language can reach is
unlimited as is the world.
As has been explored in these features, language is the real mark of our finitude for as
human beings who use it, we are bound by it and to it. Yet language is beyond the collective
understanding and experience of all those who use it; the scope of its growing existence is the
unlimited world itself. And if language is the only true means of engaging the world, then we are
indeed only capable of getting to know the world to the extent of our mastery of language. When
one is born and has grown up in the Philippines, this person can only encounter the world within
how the language and culture of her fellow Filipinos have grasped the world. This can be very
different when compared to a person who was born in Japan, or in China. Because as has been
explored, we are only able to mark our existence in the world and our existence to other people
through language, and that if this means we are enveloped by these biases from the language
with which we grew up, then we can only engage in the world in a limited way. In this sense the
speaker is held back by language, from the possibilities of engaging with the world and even
more, its yet-to-be discovered possibilities. But language will always grow, infinitely as long as
it is executed and continually used. It will touch more and more elements. It will grow beyond its
individual users and speakersit only has the infinite world to limit it.