About 14 years ago, the circumstances of my life brought to the Netherlands. Originally, I am coming from Ukraine and was born in the Soviet Union, a country that doesn’t exist anymore. My mother is from Belarus and my father is Ukrainian. I was raised in the north of the country where at the time when I was learning verbal communication skills, Russian was the dominant language. On top of that, both of my parents speak Russian between each other, even now when the political situation has changed. At the moment there is a revival of the Ukrainian language, it is used to revitalise the identity and used as a tool for belonging. I had to study in Ukrainian, the official language of the country, but my mother tongue is Russian. When i moved to the Netherlands i didn’t speak Dutch but picked it up quite quickly, as I didn’t have another choice. It was either language or discomfort coming through awareness of otherness. For me it was easy as I always wanted to blend in and be in disguise about my origin. The reasons for that desire is yet to be discovered I know that it will be an interesting, confronting and challenging task though. But for now, back to language. For several years Dutch was my main language - to this day, if i need to count in my mind, I would do it in Dutch. Now the situation changed again and I use English as my primary bridge for communication.
The change of place and the change of language brought a change in how I think, imagine and make sense of the world. None of these languages I mastered in a proper way. My Russian became a preservation container for some trendy words from ten years ago that now became archaic. And overall my vocabulary is limited by experiences. My Dutch is shaped by the situations I use it in as well. I can express myself but as I am autodidact, expression of a complex abstract thought or nuances of language remain inaccessible. English is the vehicle for communication right now. I do feel it drives me places where I feel a little detached from time to time. I love to wonder between worlds, wiggling myself out of complicated constructions while piling up concepts on top of each other. Perhaps my relationship with language can be used as an example to speculate about the relationships we build with the world around. Each language has its beauty and unique quality to transcend the meaning in accurate way. Some words are more suitable to use in Dutch, some in English etc. Being able to experience all these different ways to look at concepts is incredibly valuable as we get a chance to realise that everything in the world can be and is being viewed through different perspectives.
When we learn how to speak, we start with an object and then attach a word to it. We divide reality into separate bits focusing on individual instances. This approach to communication skills results into segmented mindset that often misses out on the totality and interconnectedness of things. In some of the tribal communities they acquire language the other way around. First grounding in the concept that there is a greater spirit out there and all the objects only manifestations of it.
Today as the world is undergoing global transformations, we need to find a way to turn our attention towards the whole. Global issues need global thinking. Looking at how language is constructed, texts consist of sentences, sentences consist of words, words of letters etc, remind of the complexity behind the structures we use without even noticing. The question is how do we start noticing and shift our focus from the parts to the whole? Looking at the world through different languages helps to disconnect the object from its meaning and connect to the essence beyond representation. It allows to have a better grip on reality and hopefully bring in the realisation that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.