Langscape?

Among the far too many books I am carrying around there is one I particularly love. Like, you know, when you enjoy reading a book so much that you don’t read it very often because you don’t want it to end. This book is written by an English woman, Jay Griffiths and is called Wild, A Elemental Journey. As you can expect from the title, she writes about her diverse experiences while travelling, always linking nature to people to linguistic and many other subjects. At some point, she mentions a Danish philologist called Otto Jespersen who came out with the concept of langscape to compare two languages that are very dear to me, English and French. She writes :

« The desire to tame what was wild (…) included a desire to tame the wildness of all languages, even the languages of empire. Philologist Otto Jespersen, in 1905, used land images to contrast French and English. French, he said, was like the formal, regulated gardens of Louis XIV, in contrast to the wild and open commons of the English langscape, “laid out seemingly without any definite plan, and in which you are allowed to walk everywhere according to your own fancy without having to fear a stern keeper inforcing rigorous regulations”.

Languages are fun. You get to think in a different way when you speak another language because you can rarely express yourself with the same words and expressions you would use in your mother tongue (more about the schizophrenia it involves later). English is a wild language. Minds are wild too, thoughts are expressions of your inner self to yourself. You can’t really plan your thoughts yet you can somehow tame them by choosing the language you want to think in, very often depending on what you think about. My thoughts are alternatively in French, English, sometimes Norwegian and more recently Spanish . Blogs are expressions of thoughts. Welcome to my langscape!

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