Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Linguaphile - Lover of language

This is a rather impromptu post, however I said something in an early conversation today that I wanted to discuss here.

"In becoming a linguaphile I have become a lover of language."

This statement seems redundant I'm sure.  However let me explain what I mean.  One of the things that I am striving for in my journey of learning languages is to be able to have musical moments in which I find myself transcending language and music and finding a deeper connection.  I had this occur on Christmas eve while singing "Oh Holy Night" in the original French text.  While everyone thinks that the song is beautiful in English, it was only through my knowledge of French that I found the true beauty of the song hidden in the real text of the song.  My French is at a level where I no longer need to translate what I am reading or saying, I just intuitively know what I am saying or reading.  This enables one to experience the culture of thinking in the language you are using.  I have found it to be true that people who speak different languages see the world differently.  Let us take a look at the text of Oh Holy Night to see what I mean.  The order will be French (original), then a literal translation and then the sung English version.

Minuit, chretiens, c'est l'heure solenelle, ou l'Homme-Dieu descendit jusqu'a nous.
Midnight, Christians, is the solemn hour, where the God-Man descends among us.
Oh holy night, the star is brightly shining, it is the night of our dear Savior's birth.

Pour effacer la tache originelle, et de son Pere arreter le courroux.
To erase the original stain, and to stop the wrath of his Father.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Le monde entier tresaille d'esperance, a cette nuit qui lui donne un Sauveur.
The whole world trembles in hope, on this night which he gives a Savior.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Peuple a genoux, attends ta delivrance, Noel, Noel voici le Redempteur.
People on your knees, await  your deliverance, Noel, Noel, here is the Redemptor.
Fall on your knees, oh hear the angel voices, oh night divine, oh night when Christ is born, oh holy night.

For me, in performing the French version of this song I finally felt the true emotion of the piece and was free to perform it with the integrity it deserves.  I found the real text to be considerably more moving and inspiring and that was channeled through me as I was singing.  This is the real reason I learn languages, so that my performances may be truly genuine.  Because I know French at an intimate level, I was able to connect to the music.  My love of language grew tenfold that night, because I learned experientially that speaking a different language really does give one a new way of thinking about a topic.  Only through a thorough knowledge of the language one sings in can one truly give an informed and accurate performance.  

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