The Power of Language
By Nistha Boghra
A linguistic perspective of the popular superhero dilemma: If you were a superhero and could have any superpower, which would you choose?
Earlier this year, my English teacher asked a common dilemma that many of us have pondered over the years: “If you were a superhero and could have any superpower, which would you choose?”
Language is defined by Oxford Languages as “the principal method of human communication, consisting of words used in a structured and conventional way and conveyed by speech, writing, or gesture.” But I think of it as a superpower.
I have long pondered the effect of language on humans. I grew up speaking two languages, and have had much practice translating to and from English when communicating with grandparents and extended family. But my fascination with language started with a series of simple realizations:
- “A perfect translation does not always exist.”
- “Once you develop the sounds needed for two languages, it is easy to learn three or four.”
- “A culture can identify with and define the characteristics of a language.”
A plethora of disciplines, including culture, neuroscience, physiology, psychology, sociology and even geography, are necessary to understand the development and applications of language. They make linguistics a particularly vast and difficult field. Therefore, we can use language to understand another human being from these cultural, biological and social lenses. If we understand another human, we can connect with them and ultimately use effective communication to help them.
What words we say, how we piece those words together to form a sentence, and the order in which we frame our sentences…all of this helps us communicate most effectively with others and, if positioned correctly, gets even the most difficult message into another’s mind. In this way, language is a double-power. One that connects and communicates. Language gives us the power to spark change in other humans, through an essential human-to-human connection and effective communication.
Aphrodite used her ability to charmspeak to make anyone fall in love with her. Hanuman used his perfect grammar to rescue Sita from the most secure palace of Lanka. There are several instances in history where a mastery of language is painted as a superpower. This is the superpower I would wish for. Because with this superpower, I could change the world.
The power of language is a profound topic that has been on my mind for years. As I grew older, I began to open my eyes to the impact of effective language use in everyday life, and this inspired me to ultimately study language in college as well! I wrote this as a possible source of inspiration for others.
Nistha Boghra is a high school senior and a member of the Writing Works program. She is a future pre-med student who has a passion for public health, writing, music and philosophy. Especially during quarantine, Nistha enjoys spending her free time writing personal statements and hopes to use writing to shed light on the experiences of other people.