Our knowledge is limited by the vocabulary we have for it.
Makes you wonder what we miss out in the world, just because we don’t have the words for it.
The ability to speak multiple languages is truly a blessing. Language is the gateway to learning about another culture. Language is how we convey and express ourselves. There are words that exists in a certain language but not the other, and deep down, it’s because these words are present in the culture but perhaps not the other.
Some things could only be written in a foreign language; they are not lost in translation, but conceived by it. Foreign verbs of motion could be the only ways of transporting the ashes of familial memory. After all, a foreign language is like art—an alternative reality, a potential world. Once it is discovered, one can no longer go back to monolinguistic existence. — Svetlana Boym, “Estrangement as a Lifestyle: Shklovsky and Brodsky”
The beauty of speaking multiple languages is to see and understand the same thing from different languages and perspectives. The Eskimos have 50 words for snow. And Egyptians had 50 words for sand. The Chinese has a million songs on heartbreaks. And love, so many words in so many languages to describe love.
So, I began to wonder about words and how we express ourselves. Like colour, do we only see what our eyes are trained to see? We can’t see new colours because our eyes are not made for it. Similarly, do we only know specific emotions, feelings and experiences because we can convey them in words of our languages? Are we missing out on things because we simply don’t have words for them?
Maybe, some things are really lost in translation.