Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Language is the facile congress of intuitive thought. It is an expression of intent and emotion through sound modulation. Humans evolved into a society of doers through language. It is language that made the San Francisco Bridge,

 the Sistine Chapel,

Notre Dame cathedral,

the Leaning tower of Pisa

and all the wonderful architectural triumphs around the world.
It is also language that created the Mona Lisa,


or Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galileo.

It is language again that has created the digital world we occupy through succession of 1s and 0s. And it is also language that gave us the Space Shuttle,

the Concorde

and the Joint Strike Fighter.

Language is at the heart of all that is accomplished and all that remains. All the music from Mozart to Beethoven to Stravinsky and Eminem there lies the common thread of language –an expression of hope, love, anger, fear, happiness and despondency It is through these communication of thought and expression of ideas that new worlds are born. We communicate via language, whether in written form, Braille, or sign language, our inner selves. Language thus creates a medium of expression. It tells others about our thoughts and us. It tells us through those pulses of vibrating air what the world is. Language is the determination of the nature of meaning.

Intent is the cloaked specter residing under the sounds of expression, yet through language even the hidden intent of our inner thoughts can be exposed. No matter how dark the veil, intent always oozes through in words and inflections. It is the emotions riding on the words that reflect feelings. We feel, therefore we express. Opinions are our release of inner thought and the cadence of the expression reflects the emotive mood. The slow undulating viscous smooth lilt of words of love, versus the harsh high-pitched staccato with the teeth chopping words as they fall out over the twisted tongue can only mean anger.

The written language has more thought prevailed upon it. It is disciplined and succinct to the projection of an idea. It also is an infant in the scheme of things, since the written word is youger by thousands of years to the spoken expression.

                                            Cuneiform the first known written language

How we communicate is how we think. How we think is riddled with our fears, happiness, and experiential references. Thus many a father has told his son to watch over the words before speaking, once spoken however these words enslave us.

                                          Werniecki and the Broca's Areas of the brain

2.4 million years ago the brain was half that of its present size. It achieved the current size around 1 million years ago. The Broca’s and Werniecke Areas in the brain seem to have evolved around 250,000 years ago yet language in all its glory did not occur till 40,000 years ago. The sudden adaptation from animalistic behavior to hunter-gatherer to the modern pin striped suited man with a Mohawk hair-do is what Chomsky proposed. No slow regulated evolution just boom there it is.

                                  Language is the determination of the nature of things

Current references to “mirror neurons,” the brain cells imitator extraordinaire are thought to allow learning through imitation. Ever seen a three month-old baby, sure you have, how she tries to express by imitating the adults till she is able to with time and experience. Akin to her arm and leg movements, the sounds that emanate from the infant are free staccato utterances, unformed and unguided until more control of the mouth, tongue and the vocal cords has occurred. Then one day “Mamma” rings out to the delight of her mother and all is well with the world.

“I can’t imagine someone saying that garbage!” He said with some anger and resolve. Something that was said had reverberated in him the wrong way, disassembling his structure of philosophy and nature.

“Who and what are you talking about?”

“That jerk. He is a quack at best. Doesn’t know a thing about anything and makes himself out to be an expert. That damned Joe.” Joe was the new fellow in the medical program. He was all bluster and blister. Spoke out when not spoken with, opined when no one asked and expressed when least desired. He was a one-man band of satire, uncouth and discourtesy.

“What happened?”

“I sent him a young woman for an opinion and he laid out the worst case scenario. Took the percentages and rolled them over to destroy any little hope she had. Left her crying in the room and then had the nerve to say, “Make the necessary adjustments in your life,” to her. He is the devil himself.”

“He can be a little opinionated at times.”

“Opinionated is not the word for him. It took me an hour to remove fear in her and even then the doubt he cast remained.”

“Maybe you should talk to him.”

“I do that about once a week. The tunnel between his ears is pretty wide. Everything flows through.” He said with his right hand sailing from left to right. “It would be one thing if he could empathize with the patients. I bet his ‘mirror neurons’ are dysfunctional.”

“That would make him…”

“Autistic. No. Just an imbecile with the devil’s tongue.” His exasperation was obvious. Stress rode the color on his face and sweat beads of anger formed over the temples. “I mean you can express the data with a positive bent. The response to treatment is over 85% in that woman’s case and he decides to ride the 15% barge of despair. 5-year survival after treatment is well over 50 percent and he says one of two women with this disease die in less than 5 years. Is that nuts? Or what? I understand false hope is as bad, but truth can be expressed in better ways than with a glass half-empty all the time. Wham, slap in the face and see you later attitude is not what a fragile mind can take. Take the hope away and you might as well ring the death knell.”


“Fighting a disease requires energies and super-human strengths. The fights against despair, frustration, hopelessness and plain depression are all too many, and then to present the worst case scenario is like walking someone to the guillotine.” His hand falls slicing through the air down on the table wham.

‘That is sad.”

“Sad but cruel too. I mean you can say the same thing better and with enough measure to allow the aggrieved understanding to sink in slowly yet with hope. Not only are his words chosen poorly but also his inflections are almost without empathy. There is no ‘me’ in the conversation. It is as if the book reads the words in a monosyllabic tone like the computer text to speech readers of the days past. Now even the computer text reader voices have inflections simulating reality for human comfort. None with that dufus.” He shakes his head disgustedly then gets up to leave.

“Don’t let him get to you.”

“Easier said.” He looks back after taking a few steps, “Empathy is being a human. To lose a fight before it is fought, to lay down your arms before the enemy is sighted or to accept defeat when the drums of battle have yet to be beaten and all because of mistimed, mistuned or misrepresented information is horrible! The decision must lie with the individual once the facts are properly assimilated.” He turned to leave and briefly looked back to say, “Always!”

Tonality, pitch and inflection lie at the heart of communication. The meaning of the word changes with variation of one or all three. Humanity’s gift is the ability to draw from these musical expressions an algorithm for communicating thoughts and feelings for sharing and building, for creating and developing and for softening the blows of nature upon nature’s grandest experiment – us.

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, 

Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch; 

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you; 

If all men count with you, but none too much; 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute 
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run - 

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it, 

And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son. 
-Rudyard Kipling

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