How does language shape thought? How does it shape understanding? The ability to communicate? Obviously conditioning has a large part to do with this. Certain words develop certain meanings and connotations simply because of the contexts in which they are repeatedly used. There are subtleties in language used all around us with the aim to manipulate and guide the viewer to a certain conclusion. We develop certain intangible assumptions about the meanings of words. A soup versus a stew, hair coloring versus hair dye. Especially in the consumer world, these subtleties exist all around us. There are even more basic and intuitive rules that exist in everyday language. In his play Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare takes careful consideration when naming his characters: Benvolio and Tybalt. Before we even know the characters, we already have an idea of who will be the kind peacemaker, and who will be more of a tyrant. Language is used all around us to alter experience and communication, whether its intended or not.
My first exposure to this truth probably came from learning a second language. French and English have hundreds of overlapping points in their vocabulary, even though English is a Germanic language. English borrows words from the French language both directly and indirectly. There are a significant amount of similarities, and yet there are still French words that I wish had an English equivalent. The French make many more subtle distinctions in their language than the English. They use a different word for “know” when they talk about knowing the route to work versus knowing their husband. Why isn’t English the same way? It seems like quite a reasonable distinction to make.
During the next week I'm going to find more of these gaps, study them, and look into what others have created using this information.