Out of screams and uncontrolled noises we human beings have distilled words. Words do not simply emerge from us. They are the distillate of our memories and feelings. Only by way of an experience–lived through our senses–is a word born (by touching, smelling, tasting, hearing and seeing). It is only when a sound, a movement, or a night walk resonates through our whole body that these events become essential words for us. From sighs, shouts and uncontrolled and spontaneous sounds, we human beings have distilled and crystallized Words.
Poetry also relies on using words in a concentrated, focused way: “Words like stones” (Parole come pietre) as Ungaretti used to say. Words that are as soulfully felt in the person sending them out as in the person receiving them. Words for receptive bodies. This is what poetry seeks.
Unheard sounds penetrate us, smells, tastes and colors inebriate our faculty of imagination. Our Brain is ordered to fish out past experiences and to allow us in silence to feel the movements and to perceive past forms and situations. Poetry lives, moves itself and screams. Drops of paint fall on the public and upset it.
New word creations paint, through surrealistic pictures, words for our senses.
There is no word without a voice, and no voice without a sound. To experience a word as a sound, we must offer the listener a new way of listening, meaning to detach it from its intellectualized and abstract level and to perceive it anew in its emotional and spiritual aspects. In the sound of a voice and in the words of a person there is a sound dimension that goes beyond the content, and this is what builds up the connection between the interlocutors. With the word’s sound, one tries to penetrate at a certain point the other person, in order to create a channel through which both individuals can feel and see one another. With our voices, with our words, we can soothe each other and find the way back to ourselves.
A few words or even a single one pronounced in a particular tone, by a particular person, in a particular inner confusion occurring in the soul, they have the power to stop the listener in his tracks and bring clarity. A process of change.
Few decide to distill words out of themselves with such success.
One’s name is a Mantra. A Mantra is a holy sentence with a healing effect, which when repeated and repeated, can bring our deeper being before our eyes. Mantras are holy sentences whose meanings cannot be captured through logical understanding. Through the repetition of its sound, its meaning becomes rooted in our subconscious. In the development of a child’s language skills, the value of the words’ sound is also of great importance; it has to resonate from the heart, only then does language become important for the child.
For names of particular towns or cities (Florence – The Flowering / Baghdad – The Gift from Allah), for significant places (bodies of water, forests, caves, valleys), holy places (Madonna of the Oleander, Holy Mary of the Stars, Madonna of the Snow) as well as for the name of a newborn, every culture has looked for poetic expressions. A new name for a person (Sitting Bull – John, the messenger of God) or a town (Moon’s Valley, Holy Mountain, Mont Blanc) should sound like the verse of a poem.
Stories and Fairy Tales
No culture on Earth has ever characterized itself without using stories and fairy tales. Myths of creation and the Hero’s sagas are also stories and fairy tales that were developed by every culture in order to honour their ancestors, to describe their origins, their values, their abilities, their journey from the very beginning and all the obstacles along the way, which characterizes them as a people. Stories and Fairy Tales paint pictures, sketch ways of life and astonish through unforeseeable and playful aspects of reality. They trace uncharted possibilities of a life path that has only started. Castles, kingdoms, friends and love: The unexpected, through the flow of words, awaits us in every sense.
For one who sits and listens, this is quite a challenging activity, yet it is only possible for those who had already been exposed to such a way in their lives.
Language Acquisition in the Child
When an infant lies on the changing table, screaming, making noises and waving his hands in the air, he is expressing feelings freely. During childhood, and most of all in early childhood, everything is perceived as a unity and every expression of feeling and the self appears as one with body movements: from these fidgets and hand movements and squeals, words and sentences will later develop. Through squeals and cries, the baby discovers that the tactile sensations through the tongue bring him great joy, and he begins babbling. The infant’s entire body vibrates and resonates in all its parts
Once I saw a nine months old baby who was invited by the mother to pronounce the newly learned word “Mama” in front of the mother’s friends. She stared at everybody and didn’t say a word. Despite each new invitation, she remained silent. We had the impression she was looking for something or waiting for something. Then suddenly she managed to get back to the feeling she had for her mother, to her relationship to her. Her face opened to a great smile, her head stretched forward, her arms were moving and she was able to express all her love for her mother with the word “Mama”. A word is born out of the living unity of all aspects of life; it is not a mere vocabulary that can be repeated.
As far as the development of language is concerned, listening also plays a central role. Some deaf persons never learn to speak, not due to any problem with their vocal chords, but because they are unable to hear with their ears.
Hearing isn’t limited to acoustic hearing – it also means listening to the needs of the child – becoming more receptive to new messages and responding with love and tenderness. Only one who is heard can learn to listen. To hear and to listen are the beginning of communication. Only by being listened to does the child build up trust and the desire to communicate with other beings, which simply means learning to use language.
The child discovers the joy of speaking: first with one-word-sentences (18 months), then with 2-3 word-sentences (24 months) and up to the questioning age, when the “Why-questions” are of first interest (3 years). A lack of attention from those who are supposed to listen can lessen the joy of speaking or even extinguish it. Joy of speaking means being perceived, to exist in the realm of communication, to get the satisfaction of a deep relationship to a person through speaking and to feel joy because of that. Joy of speaking is a sign of a healthy soul.
A lack of attention can lead the child to have fear of speaking and to avoid it. It can even lead to mutism, a state in which the child refuses to speak as a result of negligence. Joy of Speaking results from being bound in a communication and in human relationships.
Thinking and Learning
Thinking and learning a language influence each other in their development. The impulses from the environment are decisively important during the maturation of the brain: the richness of experiences that can be made by the child also thanks to his parents and educators promote the varied network of the brain cells. Conversations describing the child’s own activity promote the understanding of language and so his ability to think and speak.
As we can see, language finds its sense in the communication with the outer world and it is exactly the impulses coming from there that promote, furthermore, the grasping of a language. Like i.e. gesticulations and facial expressions or the sound of the adult’s (emotional) voice while he is caring for the infant.
The Multilingual Brain
A child is born with a highly developed network in his brain. Every connection is possible. Learning language, habits and the various aspects of its culture some connections are then strengthened, others are followed and sometimes even switched off. Multilingual children keep more neurological connections and they develop the concept of cultural relativity. The object “glass”, for example, exists for itself beyond language and culture and can sometimes be seen as “bicchiere” or “Becher”, and other times as “verre” or “glass”. The multilingual brain learns to build different neurological connections, it possesses a highly structured network. It is better at solving riddles and problems, and it is better able to take decisions.
We have gone along the wonderful path of the process of language acquisition; the way a language develops from the cries of a hungry infant to speech itself. From the reflex-sound of an emotion, the lyrical aspect, to the effect of the spoken word on the environment, the dramatic aspect, and to then finally reach the calm message, the epic aspect of language. (Fritz Mauthner)