Language Rewires Our Brain

"Shakespeare can free us from ourselves. His lush, prismatic verse grants us 'a small but metaphysically glorious holiday'..."

We understand reality through symbolic language. This is the idea Jason Silva expresses in this video about the power of language and how Shakespeare used language and grammar to change our perception of the world. Jason discusses the intentional nature of our world; things like the pyramids, skyscrapers and airplanes are all intentional things. They are renderings of the human mind, made into reality by the use of language.

Shakespeare's use of language "stretched the membranes of our minds," as Jason puts it. Beyond just the words themselves, his metaphors, his grammar and the way he patterned language literally changed our biochemistry and the way we understand language today.

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According to The Telegraph, it was really Shakespeare's grammar that set him apart from his contemporaries. Dr. Jonathan Hope, from Strathclyde University, conducted a study on Shakespeare's work compared with other playwrights of the time, and found that more so than his vocabulary, his grammar is what made him truly unique.

Dr. Hope told The Telegraph, "[Shakespeare's] grammatical skill shows even more dexterity with language. He wrote during a transitional period for English grammar when there was a range of grammatical options open to writers. Much of the grammar he chooses now seems old fashioned, but it lends poetry to commonplace words and significantly while his spelling is often updated, his grammar is not."

As Jason also notes in this video, language gives us the power to construct new worlds for ourselves in more ways than one. We can use language to construct fictitious worlds in novels or plays as Shakespeare did, but we can also use language to construct the literal world around us. We use language to design, construct and transform our world every single day.