What we see as “real” or “reality” is actually a reflection of our culture. The New York Times columnist David Brooks writes about the importance of metaphor in speech, specifically in American English, and how it reflects our perceptions of the world.
What Brooks did not touch on is how the use of metaphor, or everyday poetry, is always reflected through a cultural lens. Language reflects the values of the culture of the person speaking it. So the metaphors he uses for the stock market being animate, for example, might be very different in Native cultures, which hold different values.
Brooks’ editorial is an excellent look at how language is a tool of our perceptions–but those perceptions also shape our realities. When a colonial language is imposed on a people, how does that create dissonance and how does that dissonance manifest itself in other ways?
We are interested in your comments as the American Indian College Fund continues to support language immersion programs at the tribal colleges and universities. We want to know why language preservation is important in your words, and what this means to survival of culture and a different way of being.