124. Why we are slow to change..

June 23, 2009 § Leave a comment

Why We Speak English

by Lynn Pedersen

Because when you say cup and spoon

your mouth moves the same way as your grandfather’s

and his grandfather’s before him.

It’s Newton’s first law: A person in motion

tends to stay in motion with the same speed

and direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force—

scarcity or greed.

Is there a word for greed in every language?

Because the ear first heard

dyes furs pepper ginger tobacco cotton timber

silk freedom horizon

and the tongue wanted to taste

all these fine things.

And when my son asks why his father speaks Danish

and he and I speak English and Carlos—

at kindergarten—speaks Portuguese:

because Denmark is and has always been.

Our ancestors tracked north and Carlos’

tracked south. What’s left in their wake

is language.

Because it comes down

to want, to latitude and longitude as ways to measure

desire, invisible mover of ships—

great clockwise gyre of water in the sea—

like some amusement park ride where boats seem to sail

but run on tracks under the water.

Because to change course now would be like diverting

the Arno, this centuries-long rut we’ve dug ourselves

into, and how would it be to wake up one morning

with bird oiseau or another word entirely?

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You are currently reading 124. Why we are slow to change.. at Reflections on GardenWorld Politics Douglass Carmichael.


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