The Sophos Network

Exploring Natural Wisdom

This was shared with one of the groups that I belong to and seems to capture the issue of how language between cultures can be profoundly different

I love that I can still speak words from my 40,000 year old ancient culture.  When some of us as a family (and there are over 5,000 of us and still counting)meet on my fathers farm you should hear us.  We all speak in different dialects of Kriol a more current language form that mixes English words with people mother language.  Growing up I learned to speak one part of our families Kriol, but the diversity of Kriol is so amazing and we often have to translate ‘in-situ’ sometimes when our family come from other parts of our beautiful country. The racket is deafening.    Your comment about relying more on the environment and nature to communicate is so real to me, it resonates quite deeply. 


For example, I love the fact that in our clan/family group it is considered a very rude and forward comment to ask someone ‘how old’ they are.  Often it is met with silence, or when it is responded to it is often responded to in a way that will lead the one who asked the question away from their inquiry into a conversation that will not cause them to be offended by the one who they questioned.  It is so magical when it occurs.  I now a mature aged Elder of my clan have thankfully mastered the technique when this question is thrown at me.  It gets quite funny when the questioner is quite insistent.  I think you may be able to get an image of what takes place.


The acknowledgment of a blessing that I gift to people at the end of my emails is a powerful one particularly if the meaning is understood in the original rather than understood in the translation, there is just so much content that is unable to be translated across cultures but that I think goes for all languages. 


I have this crazy passion, that I have invested over 30 years to as a past time and that is the study of ancient Hebrew and ancient Greek.  As a philosophical and theological ‘student’ ancient sacred words are just so magical.  And then of course I come to some of the writings that I have invested in, in attempts to bring into a public place my ancient peoples Aboriginal Law/Lore and Aboriginal Spirituality. It is so difficult because sometimes there are no words.  Take for example the beautiful English words, “Thank you”.  Well, in my language we do not have words that communicate these words, we have actions which ‘say’ them with such eloquence that the words pale and become as it were obsolete. Do I say ‘thank you.’   Of course I do.  But I often smile when I think of the ‘actions’ that we engage in when we want to pass this beautiful sentiment on.  The actions that we express fit more with words the word ‘gratitude’, or gratitude with humility and a blessing.  That is so strange. 


Languages are beautiful.  I love that I can speak English too.  I may not clearly understand the words I use, or I may not use the words eloquently enough but… favourite word in the Oxford dictionary is ‘phantasmagorical’   I discovered the word when my dear parents  taught me to read by gifting me an Oxford dictionary and a King James Bible at the age of four and a-half in their preparing me for going to school.  I still read both as novels today.  I still ask silly questions like, “Why is the symbol for ‘a’ placed in front of the symbol ‘n’ and both are placed in front of the symbol ‘d’ to make up the word ‘and’.  I ask these questions because most of the language from my culture that I speak, never had these symbols placed next to each other, our symbols were so different, yet so similar.   We can often read from the symbols that are  still used in the Aboriginal Art works.  These symbols keep the writing of our language alive.  That is so magical to me.  Go well, stay well, be well.


Cheri Yavu-Kama-Harathunian    (B.App.Sci. Indigenous & Community Health; Masters  Criminal  Justice Coordinator)
Nulloo Yumbah Learning  Spirituality and Research Centre
CQUniversity, Bundaberg 4670, Australia

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