If “mastery of language affords remarkable power”, then how much do I have access to?

No Merchandising. Editorial Use Only. No Book Cover Usage Mandatory Credit: Photo by c.CSU Archv/Everett/REX (1282391a) Frantz Fanon Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), psychoanalyst/social philosopher

Photo by c.CSU Archv/Everett/REX (1282391a)
Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), psychoanalyst/social philosopher

I’ve been reading Black Skin, White Masks by Frantz Fanon and the first chapter got me thinking a lot about language and its significance beyond being a means of communication. Consider this blog a documentation of this particular train of thought.

This blog is my burger buns, the meat (or halloumi and mushroom if you’re vegetarian) is still cooking.

There are two quotes in particular that I intend to expand upon:

“A man who has a language consequently possesses the world expressed & implied by that language. What we are getting at becomes plain: mastery of language affords remarkable power.”

This quote illustrates a world with multiple dimensions, each with a different range of knowledge and understanding to the one beside it. Each dimension is accessible by portal and language is the key.

When multiple portals are opened, they merge to inform one another. (I’ve been talking a lot about ‘other’ dimensions ever since watching Stranger Things, it’s great, watch it!)

Any language spoken cannot be separated from its cultural context, changes in language reflect the evolution of the people of the culture it belongs to. Language can either mean inclusion or exclusion. It can bring diasporans together and alongside culture create a home away from home, or it can be the reason why barriers between people are formed.

“To speak means to be in a position to use a certain syntax, to grasp the morphology of this or that language, but it means above all to assume a culture, to support the weight of a civilisation”

I am a Shona-speaking Zimbabwean and an English-speaking British citizen; my mastery of language is limited to the two. How does this shape my understanding of the world, how many dimensions do I have access to and how do they merge to form my existence? With the languages that I speak, how much power am I afforded in this world? 

I will be back to begin to answer these questions, right here.

Words by Charisse Chikwiri @CharisseeC