Modern Tongue: Student reflects on linguistics impact on daily life

In Columns, Opinion
Reflections are often seen through rose-colored glasses. They sometimes romaticize a stressful time, but this reflection understands the trials and tribulations that come with writing a column twice a week. Along with some worldly realizations the journalistic process reveals much about one’s character. Photo Illustration by Nolan Motis
Reflections are often seen through rose-colored glasses. They sometimes romaticize a stressful time, but this reflection understands the trials and tribulations that come with writing a column twice a week. Along with some worldly realizations the journalistic process reveals much about one’s character.
Photo Illustration by Nolan Motis

It’s been two months since I started writing this column on the ways people use language, and while it started out as just an exercise in getting linguistic concepts across to a nontechnical audience, it ended up becoming a rollercoaster of a learning experience.

Simply keeping up a weekly column on top of my homework was, by far, the most taxing part. I’ve got 17 units of coursework on my schedule this semester, and it was frustrating — yet extremely interesting — that my command of languages was the first to go when my brain got tired. There were numerous times when, while writing one of my previous columns, my brain just shifted into Tagalog or French or some other language, and random words kept spilling out of my head.

I will look back fondly on my columns and on my problems with Associated Press style. I’ve been a bit harsh on them, complaining about their arbitrary rules and unnecessary prudishness, but they’re trying their best over at AP to keep up with the times bless their journalistic hearts, but I probably had the most fun this semester criticizing AP style.

I take that back; the day I wrote about emojis was the best. You know it’s a good time when you get the eggplant emoji involved.

I’ve received all sorts of feedback on the way I’ve written, positive and negative, which is awesome, but one of the most important things I’ve learned is that language carries power. It conveys emotion, ideas and meaning, and I need to do my absolute best in being sensitive to the needs and emotions of my readers.

Throughout this semester, I’ve bared my emotions and identity while writing about linguistic topics close to my heart. I discovered things about myself, about my sexual orientation and about my ethnicity that I may not have reflected on otherwise. Language encompasses all aspects of humanity, and I’m glad to have explored those intersections.

If anything, the ups and downs of writing this column have left me with more fervor for studying language and the ways humans communicate. I’ve barely scratched the surface of my exploration, and I look forward to what the future holds.

Before I go, I’d like to take this opportunity to meet my word count by thanking my editors, who helped make this column possible each week.

Alan, I remember how, in the beginning, you kept thinking that my column was going to be about technology. You’re right, though. Humans harness language as a tool for all sorts of things, which is essentially what technology is. Thanks for your understanding and moral support. You’re super cool, yo.

Rishu, you are the most fabulous of models. The Thursday opinion page wouldn’t be as colorful if you weren’t the face of Modern Tongue. Also, thanks for bearing with all those linguistics journal articles you had to read through while fact-checking my work. You’re a great sport.

Photo desk, Nolan and Patrick, you’ve done a great job finding ways to illustrate these really abstract concepts I write about. Thanks for your patience.

Rudy, thanks for your leadership and for letting me have a bit of space each week to ramble on about languages. You were an amazing editor-in-chief. Congratulations for a great year at the Daily Titan.

And thank you, dear reader, for sticking around for the ride. So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, adieu. Hopefully, I’ve given you all a good taste of the Modern Tongue.

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