While travelling in Spain and the Czech Republic this summer, I have noticed language’s important role in everyday situations. As an agent for communication, language helps shape other’s opinions of us. When I have talked to people in these countries, language almost immediately indicates that I am a foreigner because of my strong accent. Usually I get asked many questions after people find out I am an American, especially one from California. But, once I get passed that point, and perseveringly persuade people from these countries to speak their language with me, they start to focus much more on my words than on my background. Thus, it becomes increasingly important that I represent my arguments in a grammatically correct way, otherwise my representation of my argument will reflect onto the argument itself. For instance, when I seem to struggle to talk about something merely because I might not know the verb form structure, which tense to use, or the vocabulary, it is quite normal for the listener to subconsciously think that I may not understand or know what I want to say, and jump to the conclusion that I am not too intelligent.
But people from other countries are not the only ones who do this. I do this all of the time. I focus on the way people say things, and the way people write, as a way to judge the validity of their arguments. If people present something in a grammatically incorrect way, it seems quite safe to assume that that person did not receive a great education and does not know how to use their language correctly. Then, that inference can be made onto their argument as well. If they had not been educated well enough to shape their sentences correctly, could their thoughts and logic processes be incomplete as well? Perhaps. In Saint Augustine’s Confessions, Augustine writes that the Truth does not lose its validity based off of its presentation. Even if it is presented poorly, in essence, it still is the same. But people can more easily ignore its importance if it is disguised as something unintelligent. Thus, those who really seek to know the Truth will look past the presentation because they believe that Truth transcends its presentation in human form. Thus, for messengers of Truth to educate those around them, it is important, and even necessary, to spend time in its presentation so as to convince the listener, or reader, that what they are saying has importance and implications.
When I have struggled with presenting my political ideas and arguments in different countries, it has been easier for my companions to dismiss my reasoning because it didn’t sound smart or convincing. To them, I sounded like a child, thus they associated my ideas as those that a child would have. Winning these arguments has been difficult, and gaining enough courage to start one even more. Thus, it has become my responsibility, as a person seeking for Truth, to try to be an intelligent representative so as to be heard and received well.
Jessica De Gree
Jessica teaches English as a second language in Spain and plays basketball professionally there. She recently received her Bachelor's degree from Hillsdale College, one of the nation's top Liberal Arts schools in MI. At Hillsdale, she played basketball and studied English and Spanish. Some of her hobbies include reading, writing, painting, surfing, and playing the piano.