ON THE VERSATILITY OF LANGUAGE

By Raeesah Hayatudin

I stir the sky, the day, the night

I dance with the wind, the rain

A bit of love, a drop of honey

And I dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, dance

And in the noise, I run and I’m afraid

Is this my turn?

Here comes the pain

In all of Paris, I abandon myself

And away I fly, fly, fly, fly

Dernière Danse by French singer Indila (translation of lyrics from here)

I found this song from a Yuri!!! On Ice fanvid on YouTube. (And yes, I have watched that anime. Have you? Be warned, it will give you an obsession with real-life professional figure skating!)

For the record, Indila’s an amazing singer. Her voice is so beautiful, and she has a way of singing that just sweeps you off your feet and away into her world, despite the fact that I don’t speak French. But it’s amazing, the way the emotions wound into the music just carry through and you just get it, like that. It’s partly her well-directed music videos, but definitely not just that alone. Her other songs, Tourner Dans Le Vide and S.O.S in particular, are also just spectacular.

It’s moments like this where you see the beauty of a language and you just want to learn it so badly, to see what your own voice would sound like under that other language; see how you’d think in it. Different languages change your thought process, after all – English has been the lens through which I’ve perceived the world for so long, and while I can speak and write Malay as well, it’s very different from the precise flow of communicating in English.

Anyway, language is such an interesting thing – the way it can turn into a process of transformation and growth! (Now I say that, but you’ll have to remind me of that the next time you catch me trying to learn a new language, because then I’ll probably be whining about wanting to quit and forget about all the flowery things I’ve just spouted! And you get a whole new appreciation for the way the infuriatingly slow process of learning can become a seemingly effortless demonstration of skill.)

There’s something very romantic about the fact that no matter what language you speak in, there is a universal way people communicate with each other that anyone, even a child, can recognize: emotion. Even something as subtle as the slightest inflection in your voice, a hitch in your breath, or a small change in your expression can tell other people so much about what you’re thinking and feeling. The little things like that just make it all the clearer that no matter what culture we were brought up in or what language we speak, deep down, we are capable of sharing a deep connection that can traverse all boundaries.

It’s something to remember.

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