Animist Language

[Warning to sensitive e-prime ears; I use a lot of “to be” language in this article to make a point.]

Animist language, otherwise known as intact, indigenous language, differs profoundly from all modern languages. Each belongs to an entirely different sphere of endeavor.

Modern languages occupy themselves with encouraging their speakers to disassociate from the world and all its phenomena, by encouraging its speakers to think and speak in terms of strict cause-effect logic, abstract notions of roles, possession and time, and a noun-based illusion of factuality. Modern speakers like phrases such as “that’s just the way things are”, “time is money”. They see human beings (and the world itself) fitting into rigid unchanging roles. A President is one class of human; a janitor another. Natural resources (everything but human beings) are dead things; Human beings (and usually American or first-world human beings) are alive things. Except when they’re “criminals”. And except for the parts of their body that don’t count; like intestinal flora, the breath in our lungs and blood, the calcium in our bones. Okay, maybe everything except the human brain is dead. The human brain in law-abiding first-world citizens. With white skin?

Yeah. Yuck.

As an option to this relationship-killing language, to this world-killing culture of thought, we have the language of our distant ancestry.

Rather than nouny-ness, and factuality, animist language prioritizes verby-ness, and perceptual flux. Each person sees differently according to their own nature; and when they articulate what they see, they describe, rather than define. They observe, rather than adjudicate.

I’ve heard more than once a modern speaker of an animist language reflect, “I can talk all day without saying a single noun.” Think about this.

This kind of culture of language and thought matches quite well with emerging quantum scientific notions of nonlocality, flux, and vibration.  Unlike in English, where scientists struggle to productively speak about quantum mechanics, animist languages come equipped to speak about this deep nature of reality. Of course, right? Human beings observe the world, and have always done so. Human beings experience joy in this observation and mimicry of what they see out there, in Story, in Tracking. We only changed to accomodate a civilizing culture that reprioritized why we spoke, why we observed. That prioritized abstraction, rigid roles, and disassociated relationships, in the name of pyramid-building.

We call animist thinkers, speakers, and trackers “primitive”, when in fact they represent an apex of thought, speech, and true scientific observation. Their languages assume nonlocality (change this thing, and it affects that related thing far away, instantly), flux (everything changes constantly – one moment light ‘particles’, the next it ‘waves’), and vibration (everything verbs constantly, everything does something – thus rocks, sky, water, all think and co-create our world with us). All of these, quantum understandings.

Much of where modern language went wrong, occurred when the verb “to be” took over more and more of our idiom and thought. No fully intact animist languages have a verb “to be” (nor do they have a word for “time”).”To Be” according to Alfred Korzybski, developer of the General Semantics movement, creates fundamental errors of thought, such as the “is” of identification (Joe “is” a plumber), such as the “is” of predication (Joe “is” stupid).

Thus we have begun experimenting with ways to remedy English’s modern biases; e-prime, English without the use of verb “to be”, and e-primitive, a more verby and observation based version of e-prime.

Written by Willem