“A language […] is not merely a set of grammatical rules or a vocabulary. It is a flash of the human spirit, the vehicle by which the soul of each particular culture comes into the material world. Every language is an old-growth forest of the mind, a watershed of thought, an ecosystem of spiritual possibilities.”
– Wade Davis –
Last Wednesday, I attended a fantastic talk with Wade Davis, award-winning anthropologist, bestselling author of several books, ethnobotanist, filmmaker, photographer, National Geographic explorer-in-residence, who led us on a thrilling journey to celebrate the wisdom of the worlds indigenous cultures – and languages.
His book, The Wayfinders – Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World is simply spellbinding and well worth a read for anyone interested in languages and cultures. It’s available both as a book, e-book and audio book under this link.
Here’s one of my favourite bits from the first chapter of the book:
“The brilliance of scientific research and the revelations of modern genetics have affirmed in an astonishing way the essential connectedness of humanity. We share a sacred endowment, a common history written in our bones. […]
The myriad of cultures of the world are not failed attempts at modernity, let alone failed attempts to be us. They are unique expressions of the human imagination and heart, unique answers to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive?
When asked this question, the cultures of the world respond in 7000 different voices, and these collectively comprise our human repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that will confront us as a species over the next 2500 generations, even as we continue this never-ending journey.”
When learning a new language, we immerse ourselves in a whole new world of culture too, we get to know a different point of view, different mindsets and opinions, different ways of thinking. Watch this 40 mins video with Wade Davis, summing up what he writes about in his book so brilliantly.
Wade’s talk and his book had a huge impact on me and how I see the world, and helped me re-discover a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit.
Once you’ve watched the video and/or read the book, I’d love to hear from you. Which insight or aha moment was most impactful to you and why?
Important: share your thoughts and ideas directly in the comments. Links to other posts, videos, etc. will be deleted as they come across as spammy.
Looking forward to hearing your voice on this one.