08 September 2016
English is a Beautiful Muddle
Historically, the English language is a muddle; actually, it is a beautiful, personal, and highly sensitive creature.
- Owen Barfield
I feel like I need to dwell in every passage I read of Owen Barfield's for a good two days. There is so much there and I have been musing upon the words lately. I keep underlining sentences in the book, the lines so rich with truth, and words that shape a thoughtful angle that makes me want to sit and ponder over them for a while.
A whole shift of insight (making room in my brain for such knowledge) is like moving a boulder. A tiny inch at a time. These small lines are so heavy with meaning and importance that I need time to reflect, digest, and really enjoy the experience of reading such words that move me so much. I am stirred by words about words, all wrapped around the importance of imagination.
Words are only themselves by being themselves. Perhaps the same thing is true of human beings.
I love language, and my admiration barely compares to Barfield's love of it, at all levels of depth into diction, intention, meaning, history, and imagery. The beauty of language is something not missed and not overlooked by Barfield, but neither is the history and origin of the word, and how that brings meaning to what you say. No matter how mundane it may seem, words we use have a root in our ancient civilizations. Not many people think about that. The mystery of that reaches us today, and it causes me to lift up glory to God for such a beautiful thing we have in language, and connecting to our past. But it is also a reminder of our responsibility to maintain it and use it properly. English is such a beautiful muddle, to paraphrase Barfield. I wholeheartedly agree.
It is only when we have risen from beholding the creature into beholding creation that our mortality catches for a moment the music of the turning spheres.