Who’s there?

Now, when knock on a friend’s door and you’re asked the above question what are you going to answer? „It’s me”? Comes natural, huh? The point is it’s not that natural… While we, Poles, would say „To ja” (lit. This (is) I), that is something similar, though not exactly the same, the Persians answer with „manam” (man hastam = I am).

Now suppose that it’s your door that someone knocks on and it will take you some time to get there and open it. What do you say? Naturally „I’m coming”, no? For us it’s rather „Już idę” (I’m going already), for Persians it’s „umadam” (I came).

Now, what do you think of these different ways to answer such simple situation? I think that they show that much (most? all?) of any language is conventional, that the natural, correct ways of saying things are only natural and correct relative to the culture they are used in.

Now, another point I’ll be trying to make on this blog is that a language is not a huge but finite set of words (a dictionary) plus a set of solid as stone word- and sentence-building rules (a grammar). It’s about much more than that! It’s about how people communicate and play their social roles. To speak a language it’s not enough to be able to construct grammatically correct sentences and know a dictionary by heart. You have to know what actually is said (and when and how it is said) and what is not.

Now, I hope, you have some idea on what is this blog going to be about, and whose door it is that you’re knocking on.

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