Language is fundamental to the way we perceive the world, process information, and learn. Without language, the advancement of humanity would have crawled: Every subsequent generation would have to relearn everything the previous generation had. Language allows the cross-generational propagation of knowledge. It's the foundation of advanced technology and art, but we often forget its very nature, lost in a maze of usage and preconceptions below our awareness.
Language is misrepresentation at its finest. When you write, you attempt to put something entirely intangible into a series of inaccurate, despicably slippery mouth-shapings and throat-rattlings that often succeed in nothing more than confusing the reader or leaving her with the wrong impression entirely. We invest so much time in learning how our language works that we forget the most instrumental part of communication: The listener's situation! We are so caught up in being clear, concise, correct, that we forget to bother with the reader at all. We self-indulge and forget that what we are writing is supposed to evoke some reaction from the reader, who, counter to our basic urges, is not exactly like us. (And I haven't even touched upon the failings of language within itself!)
Whenever we write, we're failing to communicate in a wide and often unfathomable variety of ways. Good writing simply allows the reader to enjoy our failures--We should aim not to succeed, but to fail as gracefully and gallantly as possible.
You need to be logged in to comment