Saad. Words. Werdz. Word. You know, units of speech (written or spoken) that hold meaning? Mmm…words are COOL and mysterious and have a lot of power, we give them power. I’m learning my language, slowly (it’s an experience that I’ll write about someday). Sometimes I’ll hear a saad being spoken in my dreams, or I’ll find a word in a story both send me a frenzied search for translations/definitions, anything about that word I can find. Does anyone else do this?
Words shape the world around us, they communicate for us, and even hold us when there’s no one else there.
This post is about them, the word, words, all the words, and some in particular words. This will be the first of several parts, because I could go on an on about wurdz.
And of course, I have all the questions, too, like:
Do words have family/kin/community? Yes? Do words have stand-alone, static meaning on their own? Yes? Can you make family with a word? (in the sense that we relate to the word, not so much that we make family via words) Do words need their communities and families to keep their meaning? Yes. Can words be queer? YES! Some of these questions could seem a little off-target or maybe even not worth the effort to attempt an answer. Still, they are rolling around in my head. Around here we dream in community and many of you might have these same questions, too. So I’ll be brave and ask them even if they seem silly or inconsequential. I ask these questions and ponder via and within a Diné framework of understanding of my/our place in the world (i.e. how we call/name ourselves, how we are legible/perceived by others)
Whatever they convey, whatever meaning they hold for us, we use them everyday in our own special process to convey who we are and how we show up in the world.
We build worlds with words. All the time. Words are like bricks built from the vapor of our thoughts. We build starting with our thoughts, then words turn into language, then theory, then frameworks, then worlds. Words mean a lot.
But where do they come from? And why does that matter so much? How do we decide as a group to use these words with their attached meanings? Disclaimer: I’m not a linguist (and likely know just enough about this field to be annoying to actual linguists, apologies but this is a cool field of study and I’ve been reading about it off and on over the years) and if any readers are, you can skip over this part. Linguistics is the scientific study of language, linguists conduct studies into aspects of linguistics like gestures, meanings, and grammatical structures, among many other things pertaining to language. Including words. In my work and curiosities about gender and gender performance, naming, and world-building I’m interested in the social side of linguistics. The side that deals with how we make meaning with and using words, (but also with our fashion, our music, our literature, etc.)
But why the story of a word? Why is that important, why should we know this as we go about the work of dreaming our future communities?
As mentioned above, I’d like to discuss these questions and others in several parts, I’d like pay extra attention to the differences between ceremonial language/words vs colloquial vs slang vocabularies.
And I’ve several more questions for further thought/future discussion: why name this gender? And Nadleeh/dilbaa? Why do they have a term? How has that name changed over time and how will it continue to evolve in usage and meaning?
Look for part two of this discussion on saad, words. Ahé’héé always for reading!