When Language Fails Us

The word ‘tree´simply doesn’t describe a ponderosa pine. It doesn’t even come close. In fact, to use the word “tree” for a creature like this is insulting. This English language has some work to do.

Star Constellations of Pine in the Similkameen Valley

There’s no point having a language that can’t describe the world. “Tree” comes from the hardness, dryness and durability of lumber. Considering an ancestor like the tree above, a fellow traveller on this starship, as lumber is just not acceptable. What we do to trees we do to ourselves. That’s how close our relationship is. This is not a metaphor.

Categories: Arts

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2 replies »

  1. In The Lord of the Rings Tolkien rather beautifully gives that thought to Treebeard, the Shepherd of the Trees, when Treebeard comments that ‘hill’ was a very short name to give to something that had stood there for such a very long time. Either, as with the Ents, you are going to have use words that tell very long stories, or you are going to have to remain silent in front of everything, or perhaps to use language as we do but with a little more humility than we tend to have, believing that in our use of language we have succeeded in reducing the world around us to something small and controllable.

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