The Word

 

In the book “El principio era el fin” (The beginning was the end), one of my favourites, written by Oscar Kiss; it is told that the man of today has his origin in a cross between an Asiatic primate and an African one. The author base this affirmation on the fact that the big majority of human has twelve pares of ribs, which coincide with Asian people; but there are humans with forty, like African primates; and there are also some cases with twelve who have an additional vertebra.

 

In this book, it is also said that the first humans were cannibals and because of that  - the author reasons -  their brain had a quicker development; but, no matter if this was or not the cause, the truth is that the evolution of the human being went on at a remarkable great speed.

 

The hominids nearest to us were the only animals that killed their fellows to eat them. In that is based this theory; and, when the human rose, he continued in that custom, sharing the bodies in a hierarchical way, giving the brain to the chef.

 

With the evolution of the species, the communication between individuals performed. An example is that the hominids are born with a capacity for recognise the importance of distinct body and face expressions, but the response to them depends on experience and aggressiveness. And we can say more, because some experiences made with Lucy, a well known chimpanzee, show us that these animals have the intellectual capacity to use primary language, and that in spite they cannot speak, having their mouth and throat limited in this aspect; but this does not impede them to issue some “musical” sounds when they are in the jungle.

 

This kind of experiment has been carried out in various occasions. A language of signs is taught to them. This language is called “ameslan”. It is a language used in the United States by people who cannot hear. Each gesture or sign represents a word, not a syllable or a sound. Some chimpanzees have learned how to interpret, in a correct way, the signification of hundred of words and now are able to ask for the fruit they want or to express some feelings about what they are seeing.

 

Seeing a swan, a chimpanzee made two gestures, one after the other, and thus creating a spontaneous neologism meaning: “bird of water”. At another occasion, an individual of the same group made faces to say: “drink-caramel” after having tasted a melon for the first time; and “food-cry-hurt”, after having tasted a radish. And another gestured “cat”, when we show him the photography of a tiger.

 

These experiences are only a little part of what is included in the book “Sombras de antepasados olvidados” (Shadows of forgotten ancestors); never-theless, they are sufficient for us not to be surprised, not considering as a magic fact, that humans communicate between them through words.

 

I am wondering how would be the actual world, if all the hominids  had  been  able  to  express  their thoughts and

experiences with words, knowing that they were, and they are, capable to perform a primitive language.

 

 

Importance of the word

 

There is nothing between us that have such a force. Without words we would only be a kind of apes more, with a bigger evolution, and our life would be quitter, without those multiples complications characterizing it.

 

We have to be careful when receiving a word; as careful as when, in a carnival, we met someone in the early hours of the morning, because we never know what is inside it. Words are vehicles, the same they can transport you than squash you; the same they can bring you to hell than save you to be condemned. A word is also a weapon with which you can defend yourself or kill.  It may be Vaseline or sand-paper. A word can also be a serpent entering smoothly in your mind, without you to realize, enslaving you for ever.

 

Words can be luxury and vice. There is nothing without being involved or motivated by them. They approximate us or separate us and, among countries, they are the most dividing frontier, as we can observe in the autonomous communities of any land, when people use an idiom that is not the one of the state.

 

A word is a remedy and a drug, communication and separation; an excess of it destroys. A person using only a few words, reveals sometime intern richness, because an excess of words, like all the excesses, ruins.

 

Some times, a word is like a mirror, reflecting exactly what we want to say; and some others, is like a gold cloth involving a lie.

 

Our society is living in a species of jungle, where structures are like trees and words like leaves. Without leaves, those trees would be dry.

 

Gods are using words to transmit their messages through who certifies to tell always the truth; and because of that, demons also use them.

 

Without words, money would not exist. Money needs words to circulate.

 

Words are also the essence of love, its sap. Necessity and thought made love surge; words perform or destroy it.

 

Words excite the intelligence by exercising it constantly; the same when they are emitted than when they are received. Words are the principal cause of brain development.

 

Words are some times applause and peace; others, insult and war. They could be tranquillity or anguish.

 

Their transmission speed may be fabulous on our times, when they are flying with Internet, reaching any place in the world we want.

 

Words are used equally by a military to give an order, than by a priest to make a prayer.

 

Words are the magic of the man, his polyvalent faculty. Words are vehicles of fright or joy, triumph or defeat. Used in a bad way, words have lead many people to be hang or eaten by lions in a circus. And many times words provoke despise or mockery.

 

Words message enters in the mind through the ears and eyes. They are able to awake any kind of feeling going from excitation to the calm. Some times we are tired of them and others, words can motive or encourage or relax.

 

Words also drive ambition or stupidity, or knowledge. Words dress themselves with four clothes, combining them constantly, to present themselves always in a different manner: intensity, tone, timbre and opportunity.

 

Some times words attract and others, repulse. But, mixing goods and bad words together, they all seem the same; that is because we see them in a group, transmitting the pretended subliminal message.

 

In some occasions, words pretending to insult, hit; but they are not the ones that hurt more.

 

Words also serve to dominate. Who lies better commands more. Because of the words, the dominant figure among the hominids became, in our days, the one using trickery.

 

Words serve to catalogue the persons: making some higher (sir, excellence, earl, majesty, etc…), and leaving the other to the deceived level (ignorant, worker, plain people, obedient, employee, poor, etc…)

 

Words are carburant with more or less octanes and different force. The words of a judge, for example, push and condition, whereas the words of a beggar get lost in the air.

 

Words are also therapy for the loneliness when they are shared “just to spend the time”; because, when people ear them, they feel accompanied by themselves: when words are launched to the air, some kind of involving gas is produced.

 

If words did not exist, history would not exist either; and if the history were faulting, we would have no pass; we would have only the present and we could not create tricks, neither we would be so far away from the natural selection.

 

It was a period of many centuries in which some cultures prohibited the population to have any contact with words written by sage persons, to avoid a potential detriment to the system by the expansion of some verities. They put also many difficulties in giving access to the books for the same reason. They knew that what was written (thoughts and experiences) instructs the lector and gives him the strength they were afraid of. They preferred to maintain the population in the ignorance, to be able to predicate in a more effective manner. Who dare to speak against the established power was harshly punished, because any kind of rebellion could became part of everybody speech, which would be transcendent in a society of illiterates.

 

The  time  was  passing  and,   finally,  the rulers dared to educate the population, witch lead to the apparition of the dictionary: box of words presenting the identity of each of them, endorsed by an institution that, curiously, is named Academy of the Language, recognising the function of the mouth element, the more precise to pronounce them.

 

We, humans, because we have the faculty to speak, ought to valorise constantly the risks included in the words. Before speaking, we have to think about the effects they could provoke; because, once out of our mouth, words would fly and we cannot make them return. It is possible for us to launch other words in intent to destroy the first ones, but this is an aim rarely reached.

 

It is not necessary for me to continue on this theme. It would be sufficient to invite you to tell to yourself something with mental images, but without imagining any word; and you will understand the importance and the force of the words.

 

To summarize: We are father and mother of the word, an enchanting son, but very dangerous. He may bring us to the triumph, but also to trickery and destruction.

 

Juan Luengo Muro

from the book: “Mentiras tatuadas

 (Tattooed lies),  soon to be published.

 

Translated into English by:

Mariette Cirerol

 

(The scull and the reconstructed face of the man of Pekin,

who lived 600.000 years ago, are to be seen in the Spanish version)