Language | Juwon Ogungbe

I used to believe that a language was more or less inextricably intertwined with a mentality. Now I understand that I only felt this way because I associated the communication of thoughts, feelings and ideas with functioning on autopilot. In actual fact, human beings have a lot more control over the use of language than many of us are aware of.

If words, gestures and other modes of communication are essentially tools, then maybe we should listen more carefully to each other and also be more rigorous in our expression.

A lot of unconscious dialogue is rooted in conditioning. Some cultures have invested a lot of time and energy in documenting stories and ideas. The fact that such documents and monoliths can last for centuries doesn’t mean they are true or absolute.

Looking at things from another perspective, it is a known fact that people tend to latch on to things they want to perceive and remember, when they are asked to describe events or objects. Why would it be any different with regard to versions of history, for example?

Globalisation and technology are facilitating a ‘levelling up’ of public discourse. Some folks will cling on to the old ways of perceiving, processing and expressing things, but time and consciousness will both march on, regardless.

Originally published at on September 4, 2020.