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Besides reason

Street art in Salamanca, Spain.

© aNadventures

Isn’t it interesting how our language reflects the world around us? At the same time, our culture shapes our language. The two of them are intertwined.

Recently, I’ve been pondering upon the Spanish words razón (reason) and corazón (heart). I find it striking that these two are quite similar, their only visual difference being the prefix “co“.

This has led me to think that the heart may be perceived as a companion to reason, as this prefix generally suggests that two elements come hand in hand, as in co-worker, cooperation and cohabiting.

Interestingly, this strong semantic similarity is not given in English, German, French, Turkish or Italian. Does this mean that heart and reason are perceived as more autonomous from one another in these languages?

A famous quote in German by Alfred Adler, an Austrian doctor and psychotherapist, goes as follows: Folge deinem Herzen, aber nimm dein Gehirn mit.  (Follow your heart but take your brain with you.)

There’s another quote in French by 17th century mathematician, writer, physicist, inventor and theologian Blaise Pascal that states: Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point. (Heart acts under reasons that reason will never understand.)

This reminds me of a Turkish pop song that kept playing when I lived in Turkey. Right at the beginning of her famous song, “Ya Ya Ya Ya”, Hande Yener proclaims: Mantık ve kalp bir savaşta. (Reason and heart are at war.)

The Uruguayan journalist, writer and novelist Eduardo Galeano, however, expressed his support of the interdependence of both reason and heart in the following way: Me gusta la gente sentipensante, que no separa la razón del corazón. Que siente y piensa a la vez. Sin divorciar la cabeza del cuerpo, ni la emoción de la razón. (I like people who sense and think, who do not separate reason from heart. Who feel and think at the same time. Without divorcing the head from the body, nor emotion from reason.)

I somehow get the impression that even though their relationship is complex, reason and heart act as a team, like co-workers who sometimes have their disagreements but still need to collaborate.

How about YOU? Would you consider yourself a head person or a heart person? Is there a strong correlation between reason and heart reflected in your language?

From → Random

  1. This is a very interesting post! I think languages might be taking the relation between brain and heart in somewhat different ways. We do not derive one from the other in Turkish, but we have three different words for the heart (and one for the brain), and all are used differently. Maybe we perceive these organs differently?

  2. Thank you for your insights, Betül. I agree in the assumption that we might perceive the brain and the heart differently, depending on how our cultural environment perceives them. My impression is that the Turkish culture puts the emphasis on the heart whereas the German culture, for example, is more focused on reason. It would be interesting to have a deeper look at how different cultures have developed such different priorities from a socio-historical point of view and to look further into the details of how this is reflected in the respective languages. 🙂

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