Was bleibt? Es bleibt nur die Muttersprache

This is one of the most interesting classic articles that I’ve read in the last few years. It was actually an interview with the great Hannah Arendt (Wikipedia The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Günter Gaus. If you want to read it in German you can at Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg. For the faint of heart, you can find the tranlation to Engish in many books, such as the one I’m reading Essays in Understanding. Just for you to have an idea what you might be missing, the title in English is “What remains? The language remains”. Not quite the same thing…

Anyway, it’s a great discussion. It starts a little cold with many misses from the interviewer trying to pry about the interviewee’s past and the Jewish persecution before WWII, when she left Germany. This part, although it is a little weak on details, gives an interesting perpective on what it was to be a thinker in the time on the assention of the Nazi party in Germany. And the shock of finding out much later about Auschwitz.

What triggered my interest in this article is the core captured in the title (something that I don’t think is even the main subject of the whole talk, if there is one): what always will stay with you wherever you go is your mother tongue. Your brain was tought to think the way your mother tongue works, so you will never quite express yourself very well in any other language.

This is just too true. Not that my expressivity right now in Portuguese is very good. It’s interesting how quickly you lose the fluency of a language if you don’t speak it more than about once a week, but I still end up resorting to Portuguese expressions when I want to say a more complex idea.

This lead me to a more interesting line of thought (I had reading thought-provoking things): the concept of multiple overlapping sub-ontologies of the world. There is no unique way to represent things, only a unique local way. By getting away from the restriction of global logic rules, you will potentially be a little closer to what reality really is.

Not a new concept, I know… I am fully aware that the implementation of my overlapping sub-ontology world would be both very hard to scale to a reasonable size to see anything interesting and non-elegant. People are looking for things they can relate to. But if you are only one person, you are seeing the world from your sub-ontology. A lot of things can be represented, but an even larger amount just can’t. And this doesn’t make them less or more important.

Anyway, that’s pretty much as far as I went with my thoughts. Actually I did go a little farther in writing down a schema for implementing this, but while I don’t have real, exept when I riding the bus, to work on it, I’ll stop this explanation here.

It’s time for me to go to bed now. My eyes are closing (or have been closing for the last 45 minutes).

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