Languages of Peace (poem)

In response to the earlier poem posted by Gomes de Matos, Peter Praxmarer (at the University of Lugano, Switzerland) submitted one of his own.

Languages of Peace by Peter Praxmarer

     Friday, April 4, 2008

Experts say that they are
between three to six thousand
depending on how one counts
the languages of the world.

The languages of humans
to be more precise.

Plus words and gestures
poses and pauses
voice and noise
layers of meaning behind
underneath and above.

And many more dimensions
variables, categories and types
some hidden some salient
are said to make up culture:
values norms and beliefs
or simply how things are done
plus artifacts and action
tradition, time and space
and how they are perceived and lived
which all are relevant
when cultures or rather
humans interact
in word and deed.

But if one looks a bit more closer
one sees that there are two
two basic types of culture
one of peace and one of violence
one of conflict and one of understanding
one of love and one of hatred
not only as context, situation and moment
may warrant or demand
but in a basic, more elementary way.

And so the linguist steeped in
the social science tradition of our days
may well ask:
If there is a language of violence
what is the language of peace?
If there is a language of death
what is the language of life?
What are the words of a peace-life-language?
Is there just one or are there many?
Vocabulary, grammar, syntax, structure?
Signs and signals of that language, those languages?
In any language that we know?
Or in a language to create
ex novo, ab ovo, so to speak?

Who are the speakers of such a language?
Who her teachers, who her students?
Who her creators, who her developers,
And who those who cannot bear her prosody
nor listen to her words?

As elaboration on this poem, he offers this quote:

“Mit einer neuen Sprache wird der Wirklichkeit immer dort begegnet, wo ein moralischer, erkenntnishafter Ruck geschieht, und nicht, wo man versucht, die Sprache an sich neu zu machen, als könnte die Sprache selber die Erkenntnis eintreiben und die Erfahrung kundtun, die man nie gehabt hat. Wo nur mit ihr hantiert wird, damit sie sich neuartig anfühlt, rächt sie sich bald und entlarvt die Absicht. Eine neue Sprache muß eine neue Gangart haben, und diese Gangart hat sie nur, wenn ein neuer Geist sie bewohnt.”

(BACHMANN Ingeborg (1959) Frankfurter Poetik Vorlesung. 25. November, at: http://www.ingeborg-bachmann-forum.de/ibvorles.htm)

Author: Center for Intercultural Dialogue

Wendy Leeds-Hurwitz, the Director of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue, manages this website.

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