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(cross-posted from

언어는 공기다. 어떤 문화를 알려면 그의 언어를 못 한다면 모자란 스쿠바탱크로 숨쉬 듯이 몸부림칠 거다. 아무리 좋은 번역이 있더라도 그저 똑같지 않다.

언어는 햇빛이다. 지난 주에 첫 한국어 된 소설을 다 읽었다. 시작했을 때 모르는 단어가 너무 많아서 불가능한 일인 줄 알았다. 조금씩 읽던 스토리에 빠지며 더 쉽게 읽을 수 있게 되었다. 다 읽었는데도 난 아직 한국말에 갓난아기다. 그러나 이제 커튼을 젖혀서 이른 아침의 햇볕에 쬐는 갓난아기다.

언어는 감정의 정혈(精血)이다. 수백만명 사람의 마음을 움직이는 다른 방법이 있나? 음악도 있고 언어도 있다. 음악은 바로 언어의 한 종류다, 단어 대신 순 감정으로 만든 언어다. 음악을 감상하지 않거나 언어능력이 부족한다면 어떻게 인생의 굉장히 다양한 감정을 맛볼 수 있을까?

언어는 상대편이다. 나는 언어랑 늘 특별한 관계가 있다. 어렸을 때부터 말할 때 말을 더듬거린다. 다른 사람들이 자주 “나도 그래. 긴장이 될 때 말을 진짜 더듬거려”라고 관계를 맺으려고 노력하기는 하지만 정말로 어떤지 완전히 모른다. 상상해봐 — 말하고 싶은 걸 아는데 아무리 애써도 못 나온다. 조롱에 갇져 있는 종달새가 아침마다 자유를 이루려고 날개를 괜히 파닥거려서 감옥에서 못 달아나는 걸 깨닫다는 것처럼 — 그게 말더듬거리는 느낌이다. 그게 내 상대편이다. 그 상대편이 항상 옆에 있어서 그런지 언어를 너무나 좋아하게 되었다.

언어는 창조의 정수(精髓)다. 대부분의 문장이 적힐 때 인류사상에서 처음 쓴 거다. 그게 언어의 본질이다: 겸손한 연주자들이 모여서 훌륭한 교향악단이 되듯이 평범한 단어들이 모여서 감동적인 표현이 된다. 언어는 미움을 만들 수도 있고 사랑을 만들 수도 있다. 언어는 장인(匠人)의 인생 내내 쓰던 불완전한 도구다.

언어는 활기(活氣)다. 언어가 없는 인생은 색깔이 없는 세계와 같다.

언어는 희망이다. 언어는 신비(神秘)다.

언어는 딱 우리다.


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