Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Of what use is language anyway?

I came across Le Clezio's Nobel Lecture again recently and found it very profound. And I think every aspiring writer should read that because it brings to fore the main questions we do not consciously ask ourselves. Particularly, the significance of language to any society caught my attention, and it emphasises that a writer preserves language even as (s)he uses it:

The writer, the poet, the novelist, are all creators. This does not mean that they invent language, it means that they use language to create beauty, ideas, images. This is why we cannot do without them. Language is the most extraordinary invention in the history of humanity, the one which came before everything, and which makes it possible to share everything. Without language there would be no science, no technology, no law, no art, no love. But without another person with whom to interact, the invention becomes virtual. It may atrophy, diminish, disappear. Writers, to a certain degree, are the guardians of language. When they write their novels, their poetry, their plays, they keep language alive. They are not merely using words—on the contrary, they are at the service of language. They celebrate it, hone it, transform it, because language lives through them and because of them, and it accompanies all the social and economic transformations of their era.

That's what Le Clezio thinks, now you tell us, what does language mean to you? What connection do you see between a changing society and its language? Is there any connection between literature and language? Do writers have any commitment to the preservation of the language of their people? Does it make any difference to you whatever language a text is written in? Let us know...

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