Quote

Possible Worlds

When a language dies, a possible world dies with it.

–George Steiner

23 thoughts on “Possible Worlds

  1. I notice that some of the quotes you share are related to language.
    In fact the quote above is particularly reminiscent of ‘Translations” from Brian Friel. It is a formidable little play that deals with the consequences of the extinction of a language – in the story’s case,it is the Gaelic language whose death we witness.

    I also loved the subtle references made to the Carthaginians’ defeat to the Romans,which resulted in the extinction of the Punic language,according to Virgil.
    You should give the play a go,one day,if you’re interested! πŸ™‚

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    1. I don’t know Translations, but I was indeed thinking of Scottish Gaelic in particular. I came across this quote in one of the critical books dealing with literature (and language) that I’m reading. I’ll check out your recommendation πŸ™‚

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  2. If the language is dying so is the culture it belongs to. It is such a shame that more effort is not made to preserve them as well as ancient forms of music that also dies with theses cultures and languages. So much is lost.

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    1. Yes, that’s exactly the point of this quote. With some languages effort is surely made, such as with Scottish Gaelic, of which I was thinking in particular, but it’s hard to make poets write in this language and readers read their poems, for example, when there are so few native speakers nowadays 😦

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  3. According to UNICEF reports from last year, my mother tongue Kinyarwanda will disappear by 2050!! There should be a way to preserve all dying languages!!

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    1. One of the best way to preserve ancient and dying languages is to have someone write them down and also to record them with translation. I will have to look it up for who the people were exactly, but in the early 20th century when recording on wax was possible there was a woman who went out into the Appalachian wilds of that time to record the “old” time folk music and songs that were dying out. She was able to keep so much from being lost.

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      1. My step father used to say this about slang how it was bastardiising the British language and now with gangsta speak all those things dilute and yes some say create new and varied but I say is this a good thing? Because we lose the old the ability to take time and work at expressing ourselves and instead we use a quick fix!

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        1. Aah, of course, I can see what you mean now! Sorry for being such a thickhead. And you’re right of course. I’m not against any form of language, but we should know and honour the standard formal variant of our mother tongue at least. Which, sadly, is not true for many people I know.

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          1. I love his diversity and the layers he uses in his art, no modern techniques, real grafting and a process that takes such time, his later works certainly xx

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