Friday, September 10, 2010

The Vehicle of Language

I keep thinking about something Alex said in class today; he stated that language is a vehicle. He said this vehicle can drive on land. Once we run out of land it can sail on water, and when we run out of water it can fly. However silly and trite it may be, but my mind instantly jumped to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, is a vehicle that is unlike no other, it can drive, sail and fly. Bare with me...

I soon began singing the song in my head (it has consequently stayed there all day today) and I then began comparing Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to language. In the song from the film, [Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Finale] the owners of this flying car try to describe Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and do so by using a variety of amazing words; they call it "uncatagorical," an "oracle," and "phantasmagorical." Toward the end of the song they state, "It's more than spectacular to use the vernacular." I quickly saw that these words also describe language.

Language is "uncatagorical," it can't be categorized very easily as it is so all encompassing and yet so limiting. Language, especially in the context of what we have been discussing in class, is also an "oracle." Meaning that language is something prophetic/godlike. The dictionary I used said an "oracle" is something that is "typically ambiguous or obscure." Language being "phantasmagorical" fits perfectly too - as it describes defining and traumatic moments in our lives. When something is phantasmagorical it is surreal and unreal - like our classmates out of body experience whilst giving birth or Scott's nightmare he had. But language still seems to fall short when we try to describe one of these experiences - hence language being uncatagorical, an oracle, and phantasmagorical.

I particularly liked the end of the song when it stated, "it's more than spectacular to use the vernacular." Meaning Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (language) cannot be put into words. Using the "vernacular" to describe it still does not do Chitty Chitty Bang Bang justice - it defies the ordinary and common.

This amazing ability to communicate is "spectacular." It is fun and useful to use the vernacular to communicate what we think and feel which is why language is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; it is the perfect vehicle.


Scott Abbott said...

the lyrics of the song make a nice comparison to descriptions we have read that try to describe or make sense of something far beyond normal experience. this crazy car is excessive, just like an experience with the Tao is excessive.

having said that, the lyrics are obviously tongue-in-cheek and the car is no angel.