Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Is Language helpful or harmful

The city is a human habitat that allows people to form relations with others at various levels of intimacy while remaining entirely anonymous." (This definition was the subject of an exhibition at the Israeli pavilion at the 2000 Venice Biennale of architecture)( These relationships form a unification that can only be attributed to a city. One of the main unifiers of a city is language. Language functions not only as a form of communication but also a common bond among its individuals. Language preserves the history of a city, the culture and of the individuals in the form of stories. Its slogans inspire and functions as a unifier in itself. Edwidge Danticat in Krik? Krak! Uses story telling as a means to preserve and expose her culture and Haitian heritage. Chinua Achebe describes in No longer at Ease, the connection the character Obi feels when he hears his native language. These connections formed in language are both symbolic and literal representations of the culture and people a city encompasses. Language allows it inhabitants to become apart on not only the people of the city, but also the city itself. Loyola’s new slogan “ Year of the City” must have had an impact on the city that could have achieved inspiration and unification. The impact of the literary instances and workings both Achebe and Danticat are beyond the focused theme of Loyola.
Danticat uses language to preserve her history and the history of the Haitain people. Also, her stories evoke emotion and inspiration from the reader. Danticat is able to represent her country and uses her literary talent to form a connection between the people and their city. These stories not only form a bond or through the characters in the novel, but also with the Haitian people. These stories told in Krik? Krak! establish a perpetual historic record that was once passed from mouth to mouth. Danticat states, “When you write, it’s like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring them unity”(220). The form of Danticat’s novel reveals an insight into storytelling. Danticat allows the reader to experience nine different stories all referring back to the Haitian culture and world. The connection is not only in the Haitian tradition, but also in the interconnectedness of the characters through their stories and experiences.
Obi, in no longer at Ease, feels at comfortable when his native tongue is used in a foreign city. When he meets a stranger who speaks ebou he feels at home and closer to that person. Ebou allows for a bond between two people who share the same language which connects back to their originating city. The language not only spawns connection but it also evokes emotion and memories in Obi. Language has the power to not only convey a connection but also rekindle his native city.
Language has such an impact on the unity of the people within the city. It not only defines that city, but also character. Loyola is using language to associate itself with Baltimore this year. Their theme, “ Year of the City” is suppose to evoke a passion to the students of Loyola to reach out to the city, but the slogan also sends a message to the city. By literally stating Loyola’s mission to the city, the hope is that Baltimore will assimilate Baltimore into its community and no longer see it as a separate entity of an educational institution.
Does this theme evoke any true passion among facility and students on Loyola campus? Does the city truly accept Loyola as part of the city? Instead of evoking or inspiring or even preserving, is Loyola putting a time limit on its association with Baltimore by instituting this slogan “ Year” ?