Romantically said

By Eireen Manikan

I have a confession to make. I am an ignorant language racist. Though a mouthful, it really just means I frown on languages/dialects that may sound harsh/cold and revel in those that seem to take me to bed with its sounds and inflections even if it’s saying the exact opposite.

This lightbulb moment came to me recently as I watched a very famous Korean rom-com to try to get in on the frenzied happenings of anything K. Much as I wanted to feel the giddiness of any female watching a typical rom-com, I was left with my eyebrows in the shape of a question mark every time I hear them speak “romantically “.

The seeming “harshness” comes from the tone and “dryness” of the words not unlike German or Japanese. And the tilt of the voices of their lady characters gives me a scratching-of-sandpaper effect or an itchiness from a skin bite that I can’t seem to take my mind off.

But before I go any further and be made a subject of any witch doctor paid by hard-core K lovers, let’s learn something first. How did language came about? Why are we using a particular one with a distinct tone or inflection? Is it then a race’s fault that they sound “unromantic”?

According to Summa Linguae, “it is estimated that language emerged about 100,000 years ago. Anthropologists suspect that processes leading to its development occurred in primates, the direct ancestors of hominids.

In 2014, Live Science published an important article featuring a theory from Shigeru Miyagawa, a linguist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

Miyagawa’s “integration hypothesis” suggest content-based language may has roots in monkey alarm calls, while grammar comes from the expressive parts of bird song.

According to Miyagawa, the expressive system is found in songbirds and corresponds to grammar in human language. That is where vocabulary comes into play. The lexical system is found in monkeys and corresponds to words in human language. For example, vervet monkeys use unique alarm calls to warn of specific predators, with specific calls communicating threats such as “eagle,” “snake” or “leopard.”

Only in humans did the two systems come together as language, with silvery gibbons serving as the point of connection.”

Now we know that specific languages from various countries developed through colonialism, migration and cross-cultural communication.

Language therefore, is like a voice. It is a country’s personal identity and forms a part of the whole. It is not ugly or disdainful, beautiful or gorgeous. What I feel towards it is shaped by my ignorance, prejudices, and experiences. But there’s nothing I can do about it, it is what it is. Also, it is not what we say that’s preeminently important, it is how we think.


Cogitationes explained

I am cursed with multiple thoughts running through my mind always at the same time and my friends usually catch their breath to catch up with me when I am in my usual expressive self. It is not unusual for me to be doing something and thinking of another thing at any given time and so when my Ed asked me to give a perfect name to my column which may give you an idea of how I am, the Latin word for thoughts came to mind. welcome to my never-ending ones and please be kind