In the Japanese language, the word for love is a picture of a person with a full stomach, kneeling, with both hands raised in offering. The picture means, “I am so full; please allow me to share, please take from me.” Osho, is it possible that the languages of cultures that use symbols are more protected from depreciation in value, as happens for example in English with the word love?
The languages like Japanese or Chinese are certainly more protective of the essential quality of a word. But these languages are pictorial languages.
The pictorial language is the language of the unconscious mind. That’s why in the unconscious mind you see dreams.
The pictorial languages are also the languages of the child, who can only think in pictures, not by the alphabet. That’s why in children’s books you will see bigger, more colorful pictures. And as the child grows, pictures start becoming smaller, and finally the pictures disappear; only abstractions, alphabetical letters, take their place.
The alphabetical languages have some qualities; that’s why they have won the race against the nonalphabetical languages. They are simple to learn.
Some languages have twenty-six letters; all words will be made out of these twenty-six letters. Sanskrit has the biggest number – fifty-two letters. More are not possible, because you cannot make more sounds than fifty-two. So while in English many sounds are missing which are in existence – there is only one s and in Sanskrit there are three – Sanskrit is as perfect a language as it can be.
But Sanskrit also got defeated in the race of languages. It was very poetic like Arabic and other old languages, but you cannot do science in poetry, you cannot do mathematics in poetry. You need a more prose-like style of language. Poetry may be closer to emotions and subjectivity; prose is closer to facts and the objective world. And we are dealing with the objective world. Very few people are dealing with the subjective.
So languages that were leaning more towards the subjective, towards the poetic, got defeated, and languages that were pictorial were very difficult. Unless you are born Chinese or Japanese, it will take almost half of your life to learn the language. That is too much – thirty years – because you will have to remember so many pictures of all things…so many symbols. So although those languages have the innocence of child, a purity….
And they are not so corruptible, because for each different shade of meaning, they have different symbols. For example, love – people love all kinds of things. People love their cars, people love their clothes, people love their food, people love their houses, people love their wives, their friends, their husbands – one word has to be used for so many different things. It naturally loses its purity.