Friday, July 03, 2009

The Most Social Thing

Listening to: Fairy Tales  / Anita Bakers     Mood:  slightly melancholy

This week I've thought a lot about language as a social dynamic. I was writing in my journal the other day and I concluded the days post with a personal observation that language was the most social thing people do. The next day I picked up from that point the night before because it seemed like a heavy way to leave the day's entry. I thought to myself that I needed to defend that pronouncement.

Picking up on this point I continued the conversation with myself yet another day.  I felt that I needed to define social for the sake of this argument and I did, assigning it this definition: actions or things people do in groups (group consisting of at least 2 or more).  My quick list of social activities then looked like this:

  • dinning
  • talking
  • traveling
  • work(ing)
  • governing
  • fighting
  • sex
  • playing
  • reading

In all these activities talking/communicating aka language is or can be a factor. Yes, I suppose you can have silent sex, but it is certainly possible, even likely that language will play a role. While two people don't have to be together for reading, it remains an interaction at minimum between an author and at least one other reader. And so I concluded my second day journal entry feeling I had  justified  my original elevation of the significance of language in society today. It most often can and will be the center point of any other social undertaking.

With the decline of language skill among many American students it is easy to envision trouble ahead in their lives when a core part of their social interactions are hindered by marginalized language capabilities.  I'd like to believe that this trend is not permanent, but then I'd like to believe that poetry would also enjoy a renaissance. As the John Lennon song Imagine says, "you may say that I'm a dreamer."


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