The Last Word

今天我在Harper’s 里面读到一篇了文章,The Last Word,是讲即将消失的语言的文章,它的最后一段话非常感人,现摘抄如下:“

Every epithet implied a unique set of attributes, every sound described a unique Being. It is not merely a writer’s conceit to think that the human world is made of words and to remember that no two words in all the world’s languages are alike. Of all the arts and sciences made by man, none equals a language, for only a language in its living entirely can describe a unique and irreplaceable world. I saw this once, in the forest of southern Mexico, when a butterfly settled beside me. The color of it was a blue unlike any I had ever seen, hue and intensity beyond naming, a test for the possibilities of metaphor. In the distance lay the ruined Maya city of Palenque, where the glyphs that speak of the reign of the great lord Pacal are carved in stone. The glyphs can be deciphered now. Perhaps.Only perhaps, for no one knows what the words were spoken, what sounds were made when Pacal the Conqueror reigned. It may seem cryptic or even Socratic to say, but, in truth, only spoken words can be heard.

There are nine different words in Maya for the color blue in the comprehensive Porrua Spanish-Maya Dictionary but just three Spanish translations, leaving six butterflies that can be seen only by the Maya, proving beyond doubt that when a language dies six butterflies disappear from the consciousness of the earth.”



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