By Lin Stone
Not long after I began learning English I became confused by the syntax and grammar of this decidedly weird language. I could understand the English that was in the books they gave us to study, and by the time second grade was over I had read every book through the fourth grade and the entire 18 volume set of encyclopedia that belonged to the little one room school I was in. The books that were professionally written, I could understand. The language of the people is what confused me. The sentence that confused me most and for the longest time was the simple phrase: “It is hot.” or worse yet: “It sure is hot.”
“THAT”S HOT!” I came to understand and even believe after the first time I backed up to a cherry red wood stove! Oh, I believed that vicious thing was hot for weeks. For years I was very cautious of turning my back to anything that was even said to be a stove. I can easily imagine the confusion of anyone suddenly immersed in our world of today where almost all stoves are deliberately disguised so they do not look like a stove.
Many, many years later I read that the hardest word for children to understand was the word “I” because virtually every sentence you hear has the word “I” in there. I instinctively understood who “I” was and that there could be a dozen “I”s in the same little room without crowding up.
However, that word “it” never seemed to mean the same thing twice. One minute “it” would be the ground, next “it” might be the door, or a hammer and every time someone said “It is hot” I would look all around to see what in the world was hot. Usually there was nothing there I could see that was any hotter than anything else was at that moment.
Then as 14 summers rolled around for me I decided to begin studying Spanish and this guy warned me that people who spoke Spanish used a different format for their sentences. Instead of saying “The pretty cup” they say “The cup pretty.” Of course I thought he was putting me on so he gave me some more startling news. Instead of saying “It is hot.” they say “I have hot.”
That’s when I finally understood what people meant when they said “It is hot.” They meant Yo Tengo Calor — or in other words — It is hot on ME. It wasn’t until I was about 40 that I realized just how painfully they meant it was hot on them.
Thus it was that when I began embracing different cultures around the world and I paid special attention to sentences that were formatted in English by those who insisted they could speak English. Every time I noticed a new permutation I would pause to ask myself: “Now WHY do they format this sentence like that?”
As soon as I heard the theory that thought processes are different according to what language people think in, I just naturally fell in love with it. It must be true. The way we think must decide what we think about — and I truly believe that what we think about most determines what we are mostly about.
One time I met a kindly old man on the Navajo Reservation and I raised my hand and said, “Yahtehey” just like the movies. He set his bag down on the sand and said, “You probably think you are saying: “XXX?” Eyes narrowed, and because I could not hear any difference, I nodded. He pulled out pen and paper and he said: “This is how to pronounce what you mean.”
I was amazed. It was obviously the same word — or words — I had thought I was saying but what I had given 2.5 syllables to actually had about 8.7. He let me practice on him for a time then picked up his bag and walked on off. Thereafter I would greet Navajo with the proper pronunciation and their eyes would brighten. Some of them assumed that I knew their whole language instead of knowing just that one word.
Japanese, Korean, German, then Spanish for a third and fourth time, I have listened hard all my life for the nuances that reveal mind sets that are found in the translations that I heard. Here is a set of instructions I have particularly loved for years: FIX AND USAGE OF YOUR CHINESE MIST MAKER.
(1) Put the mist maker on the base of the stand by the right direction.
~2) Drew the wire of the mist maker through the small hole of the glass bowl ,and seal the
hole with the water-proof washer .(making the washer wet will through the hole easier.)
Control the length of the wire of the glass bowl (about 9cm ),and put he mist maker on the
middle of the glass bowl stably.
(2) Fix the spray protector on the hole of the stand base stably base stably .
(3) Put the spray protector case on the stand stably..
(4) Fill some clean water in the glass bowl .the best mist lever is 3-15cm to the inductor.
(5) Connect the plug of the mist maker and the out put plug of the transformer rightly
(6) Turn on the power of the transformer ,and the product will work normally immediately.
(1) Protect the whole lever of the inductor .don’t handle it by hand or crack it with other
thing, or it will be damaged.
(2) Put the transformer on the dry and windy place.
Just by reading that you will feel sure there is something different found in the thought processes engendered by thinking in Chinese. I’m not making fun of Chinese thinking as I have been thoroughly fascinated by their intellect and manners ever since I actually sat down with an elderly Chinese gentleman and listened to some of the things he thought were important. Then I remember a judge from many years ago telling about a truancy case involving a Chinese boy. When asked why he had began missing school he reluctantly admitted it was because he loved his teacher very much but she had said he made her sick and he didn’t want her to get so sick that she died. Some of our teens would give a thousand dollars to have his power for just one day!
Just to reveal how subtly some of these nuances are exposed I herewith include part of a superb article from a lady in Belgium: ”Belgian people are a warm people, always delighted to welcome you and make you discover the cultural wealth of their country but also to inform you that they are interested in foreign cultures and practice their customs with a great talent. For instance, Brussels will become an annex to Santa Claus home: indeed, the Belgian capital is organizing once again its wonderful and fairy Christmas Village.”
A friend of mine reads every translation of the Bible that he can find. His special treasures are translations from a Bible in a foreign language, French or German, for example. When he sees the differences he can understand the similarities much better because the words are stripped away and the Spirit that wrote them is revealed.
I know this is true because, although I don’t know an ‘osiyo” from a “Docie Dough” the first time I heard Amazing Grace sung in Cherokee, I bawled. I just sat there playing it over and over and over again, and I bawled for hours until there were no tears left in me because the meaning of that song is even clearer when I don’t understand the language and therefore the Spirit that gave that song to us is not hidden in words.
I am convinced that when the mists of time can be set aside on the dry and windy place that the pure Adamic language spoken before work on the Tower of Babel was halted will be revealed to our hearts.
Therefore, I invite you to pay close attention to the meanings clothed in the peripatetic permutations you hear in the speech patterns of others. If you will do this devoutly and continuously I guarantee that someday you will know what IT is.
About the author:
Lin Stone is the almost wealthy class
and is known principally for the rock-solid features of
his mind. "Once I have reasoned it out from one end to
the other; I am convinced I am right, at least until I come
up to the minute Marleen explains why it is all my fault."
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