On language

Language- this is a thought I wrote down one day after coming back from my classes. I keep thinking about it more and more.

I’m just here, drinking my coffee when all of the sudden my eyes are teary and I have to put my glasses down. And what caused that?

Ever since I heard about this topic, I can’t get it out of my mind. And it’s not news, either, I just never gave it much thought. One day, my language could die. One day, my descendants might wake up in a world where they wouldn’t know a single word of the language I use today.

First, here’s some context. I study languages, okay, that’s my biggest passion. I love learning them, I like studying them, analyzing, comparing, just listening, everything. I have this weird tendency to at least look it up and research the basics of the language whenever I hear a new one. That also goes hand in hand with my obsessing over a certain topic or a project I start. I’m just fascinated by languages and I’m angry that I would never be able to learn them all (even though I know that’s quite literally impossible). Anyway, beside all other phobias that I have (and that are not irrational AT ALL – this is not sarcasm), college unlocked a new fear for me – the death of a language. A structure so complex, so unique and fascinating, that is so beautiful and personal, passed down from our mothers, one day simply vanished. The thought of a dying language honesty fills me with sadness. If we try to define it: a dying language is the one that is no longer taught as a native language. That means that it is uprooted from a community to which it belonged, the community it identified.

My language is small, it doesn’t have many speakers and the number is decreasing, and I think for a great period of my life I ignored my language in a sense that I didn’t find it beautiful. I was used to it and used to always compare it to other, prettier languages. Just like my hometown – I never understood why visitors always praised it. Just like my name, that I used to pronounce differently, especially when talking to a foreigner. I adjusted it to sound more global, more… I don’t even know what. No, my name is my identity and so is my language! I am so proud of it and its rich history and the layers of it that trace back so far in the past that it feels like it’s connected to the very first earth there was.

That much power comes with something you can call your own. This is me, this is my name, I can talk about love and power in my own language, I can use it as a code that will unlock for me the secrets of identity, belonging and a force so powerful that no matter where I go, I will never lose it. That’s such a warming thought – that my language will serve as a bridge that will connect me to my home and my people no matter where I am in the world.

And I feel hypocritical not writing this in my language, so here it is. Let me show off all of its beauty and be proud:

Prva riječ bila mi je ”mama”, riječ koja je, mislim, ista na toliko jezika. Zato što je toliko posebna, toliko kao nijedna druga, tako bliska i značajna, ali i zato što je putovala kroz vrijeme i povezivala ljude i bila na usnama tolike djece u različitim trenutcima u vremenu i prostoru. Ona je zlatna nit koja je povezala obitelji i kulture dok nije došla do ovog trenutka danas da je i mi izustimo. I danas nema riječi koja će mi više ugrijati srce. Jer je to moja mama, i njezina slika. I jer je to moja majka domovina i jer je to moja majka – jezik. Moja kolijevka i moje ogledalo u kojem ću uvijek vidjeti svoju obitelj, zajednicu koja me je podigla, mjesto u kojem sam se rodila. Ogledalo koje će biti vrata u upravo onu prošlost u kojoj se moj jezik kovao, a koju ću moći dalje graditi i čiji ću dio i ja biti kada postanem predak koji će položiti sigurnu ruku na ramena svojih potomaka.

Our falcons and thunders will keep our language, because the sounds of echoed in the mountains when we first spoke it.


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