Bringing Light and Truth

by Pádraig Downey | 11 September 2018

We are all connected… even the trees.
Arthur Miller

The word ‘connect’ is a combination of two Latin words: ‘con’ meaning ‘together’ and ‘nectere’ meaning ‘to bind’. This marriage of words made its way into the English vernacular just a few hundred years ago as the word ‘connect’ (‘to be united physically’). Isn’t language fascinating? When one examines the original meaning of a word, one is always taken to the heart of its true intention. Do words devalue over time like some sort of currency? Or can some words gain power? Think of the power of ‘no’ and the #MeToo movement.

Words may often be inflated, misused or abused – devaluing over time. Think George Orwell: ‘No means yes and yes means no… black is white and white is black’. Mere words can also assume power when their very use can signal a change in our livelihoods, relationships or beings. We take for granted what words mean when we overuse them. It is only when taking up a new language that we truly start to think of the meaning of words.

For me, growing up speaking the Irish language, it was always a trial explaining to people what ‘hello’ is: ‘Dia duit’ or ‘God be with you’. The response of the other person must be ‘Dia’s Muire duit’ or ‘God and Mary be with you’. There is also no true word for ‘yes’ in the Irish language. Years later when I moved to Dubai I would find that Arabic is very similar ‘As-salaam alaikum’ or ‘Peace be upon you’ to the response ‘Wa Alaikum As-salaam’ ‘And Peace be upon you as well’.

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