Photo taken in Arles, France Copyright 2006 Matthew Bamberg
What if someone gave a party and noone came? That's exactly how you would feel if someone screamed something in "low language" or said something in "high language" that you didn't understand.
Today's entry ponders this question, both in a "low langauge" tongue-and-cheek sense and a more "high language" lingusitics sense. In Europe the formal languages have long been Latin and Greek, but in India the formal language is Sanskrit, a "high" language used for science and religion.
On this note, I want to welcome the students from my linguistics class at National University. We're studying "high" and "low" language.
I bring them to my blog for two reasons:
1. To demonstrate the variety of "high" and "low" language the world over.
2. To show the parallel of this concept with that of "high brow" and "low brow" art.
Consider the following conversation here, of students being trained as peer educators, discussing what they should tell an audience during a skit about marijuana use.
Teacher: Remember, you're role models.
Student 1: You want us to lie?
Teacher: Since you're not coming to school stoned--
Student 2:(mockingly) Stoned?
Teacher: What do you say?
Student 2: I say high. Bombed. Blitzed.
Student 3: Weeded.
Student 4: Justified.
Student 3: That's kinda tig
Obviously, they used "low" language or slang to connect with their young audience and to illustrate the terms of this language as they connect to the use of the drug.
Now terms such as this (and others connected with drug use) are ubiquitous (a high brow term, and one that I had to look up the spelling for on Google). Here's an example of low language turned into a kind of "low brow" art found on the street. It is connected to (can you guess?) LSD use.
And what about high language?
Here's an example. "Brevity is the soul of wit." Can you guess where it came from?
Check out the parallel in art.
Okay, so I get the hint from the quote, and I'll conclude with a tip for both linguistic students and artists studying the highs and lows of language and the arts.
Tip: Language is an artist's greatest tool.