Sunday, January 27, 2008

Metropolitan Anastassy on Language

My translation of a meditation by Metropolitan Anastassy on the Russian language:
Language is the immediate imprint of a people's soul, as well as its living history. The Old Slavonic lexicon clearly expressed this thought, making the language and people synonymous. Language, like every organism, lives, grows, and fades. A change in its constituent elements continually takes place; some of them grow old and die, while others, new and fresh, take their place, organically merging with the previous accumulation of words and notions. Every change in the national psychology, every impression from one or another occurrence in the national historical life, immediately leaves its trace on the national expression. Our powerful, free, and beautiful Russian language could only have been created by a great people, with a broad soul and a glorious and magnificent past. The musicality, depth, and beauty of our national language does not depend only upon the nation having lived among nature, always filled with a variety of sounds: the breathing of the wind, the howling of snow storms, the noises of the forests, the singing of birds, and the bellowing of bears, but serves foremost as an expression of the inner harmony that distinguishes the Russian soul. Russian speech has imprinted upon it the sweetness of the Russian heart. Since Bolshevism lowered, soiled, and split the national soul, depriving it of its former simplicity, integrity, and magnificence, our language has been choked up and hardened, losing its innate nobility, facility, and artistic expression. A language is devastated and grows pallid to the extent that a nation begins to grow poor spiritually. It becomes crudely carnal and even almost inarticulately bestial when man himself falls to an animal condition.

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