Watch Your Language: Be a cunning linguist

John Cousins
March 4, 2023
2 min read
who controls the past controls the present…

Language is one of the keystone innovations of humanity. Perhaps the keystone innovation. Language is a power tool. It is our super power.

All, or at least most, of our thoughts seem to be formed in words. Our inner narratives dictate what we do and define who we are. Our inner dialogue is our identity. Its how we talk to ourselves and make sense of our experience.

The ancient Greeks created an innovative language with words that described abstract concepts. Their language was the tool that allowed them to gain insight and independence from superstition and feel empowered to make sense of the world on its own terms.

The Romans thought in Latin. It was a language that inspired practical pragmatic utility. They conquered the Greeks but Greek thought conquered the Romans. Greeks for brains, Romans for drains. Latin is great for concise concentrated maxims; short phrases that punch way above their word count.

English benefits from both Greek and Latin words and also from the rich linguistic heritage of Anglo Saxon. The Germanic Teutonic Saxon tradition and Anglo Druidic Celtic influence. This mashup has created a rich language with nuanced word choice that expands free range thinking and the positing of ideas. English is now the lingua franca like Latin was in the middle ages.

The English language is a powerful tool for thinking and creativity.

Here is a caveat. One of the greatest gifts of language is our ability to create metaphors.

We think in metaphors, and metaphors are mental maps, but remember: the map is not the territory. An abstraction is not the thing itself.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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