Even more

I admit that I am not the best second language speaker I know.

I am the only strictly second language speaker I know. Perhaps that says more about the extent of my knowledge than anything else.

I suspect that some of my linguistic woes are rooted in this knowledge.

There was a time when I had thought, foolishly it turns out, that justified true belief was about something external, something in the world. In this time, let us call it the times, it was quite true that the language of my ancestors could not speak that which is. It was not the fault of the external world that just was. It was the fault of the language. Geared as it is towards something else, the language of my ancestors is unsuited to expressing a world that just is. It is so static, a world that just is. The language of my ancestors is, of course, not unique in this respect. Many respected languages started their careers inadequate to the task of expressing a world that just is. As one of the most respected philosophers of the times saw, language has to be taught.

I am not sure what first language speakers teach their languages. I am overcome by embarrassment whenever I try following their lessons. They are so right.

You see, dear reader, I continue to teach my language what I have received from my ancestors: umntu ngumntu ngabantu. Let us call this received teaching ubuntu. Ubuntu, as I teach it to my language, holds that between an external world and umntu, the former emerges from the latter. It further holds that unless umntu is, the external world has neither meaning nor existence.

You can, I believe dear reader, now see the source of my linguistic woes. Imagine that you are wrong about, say, the nature of the external world. Even should you speak the language of angels (or God hahaha!) you would still be wrong.

I laugh at this notion, and teach my language to do the same.

Imagine, further, that I teach my language that only the world is capable of being wrong. What, then, would I teach it about umntu, and her relation to the world?

Of course I might have taught my language this lesson even had I been a first language speaker. But being strictly a second language speaker, I really cannot say.


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