Today, I notice that Ezra Pound’s injunction to “Make it new” in writing plays out well in the English-language essays of students who are filtering their ideas through a different first language, drawing on thesauri and online translators to assist in the process of self-expression.

Strangers to the rhythms and habits of English, yet familiar with the rules, they produce wordings which startle with their strangeness as they delight with their aptness: “warm nest feeling” replaces “cozy” and  “eye gate” stands in for boring old “vision.” Language is enriched by the substitution, and these students, trying so hard to simply make it, succeed brilliantly in making it new.

And so I notice that the babbling of Babel, that thwarting of a grand design, has become a gift rather than a deprivation. It should be no surprise that in His taking God gives, that in His forbidding He allows.

So that rather than being bored with one language the whole world over, we can constantly be astonished at the places where languages meet — not only by the beauties of languages new to us, but by the beautiful newness of our own.


©2014 by Stacy Nott

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