Language Beyond Words

Throughout my time studying turning points and the significance of music this quarter, as well as doing my own research and exploration, I’ve come to notice a theme.  We, as beings on this earth, have natural languages that don’t involve words.

These languages can be apparent in many places in our world.

The book The Alchemist highlights a form of unspoken language within the shepherd’s relationship to his sheep. The shepherd has never spoken to his sheep, and they’ve never spoken to him, yet he knows everything about them. They have developed an undying trust and bond that was built on nothing but unspoken language. Another instance I’ve encountered lately of the representation of pure trust between an animal and a person is from the documentary My Octopus Teacher. The diver visits the octopus everyday for over 300 days, and learns more about what it means to be part of our world than he’d ever learned from people — having never spoken a word to the octopus. The fact that we can 

Music is another form of powerful wordless language. Though many genres have lyrics, which help to convey their message through words, much of what songs attempt to convey isn’t about the lyrics at all. Through analyzing music you have to think about the instrumentation and vocals, mood, tempo, and genre. There’s so much about music that communicates to the audience that doesn’t involve the lyrics at all.

In the song War by Edwin Starr, the words [War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing!] are important and communicate a lot about the meaning of the song, but so does the mood, tempo, vocal intensity, and instrumentation. This song was meant to come off as powerful, passionate, and even angry. The lyrics couldn’t have communicated this alone. The intensity and passion in his voice, the loud and strong instrumentation, and the forceful tempo all contribute to the mood and message of the song.

In Hamlet’s ‘to be, or not to be’ soliloquy the writing is missing an important component without the actor’s portrayal and emotions. Reading the play will make you think, but watching the play acted will make you cry.

It’s the unspoken forms of communication that convey the most important emotions.

In our world we seem to think of language quite one-dimensionally, but in reality communication is incredibly vast and intricate; the languages that we use in our everyday lives, that go unnoticed, are often far more powerful than words.