Originally published in the Tufts Observer Issue 4 VOL CXLVI: https://tuftsobserver.org/letter-to-the-editor-5/
“You have a lot of futterneid,” my mom said to me one day. A German word which literally translates to “food jealousy.” It’s true, I’ll admit it. The word that I once flaunted from my high school German class was now being used lavishly (and rightly so) to describe my inherent love for food by my mother. It is that moment when the dish comes out and it is more appealing to pick at the bits on the periphery of someone else’s plate before tasting your own. I learned language as being boundless and describing the common sentiments and universal feelings that humans all feel at once.
Language seeps into every ventricle of our communications and interactions with one another. Peaches and cream might seem like a simple dessert to some, but for me, it was the moniker that my parents used for me as a baby. Language can function the same way that the scent of a well-loved sweater or the hem of a baby blanket makes us feel. It fills in those slots of our lives in ways that sight, touch, and taste may not be able to. It fills a kind of void.
We are a social species (relatively speaking). Language is one of the many mediums that we use for communication as we build from babbles as babies, to the standard speech patterns of first grade, to our papers that try to mimic intellectual prose. It is about a first introduction to a long-time friend. A long-awaited call to your family about how much you miss them and love them and long for the Sundays of oxtail and plantain. It is the silence in between the construction of words. They express our deep regrets in our mother tongues and languish in the absence of reciprocation. A two-way street. Language can be whatever you want it to be. Bones can snap, break, and fracture. Words meld, shift, and swim. It is silky and rich yet tangibly solid, constantly molding, never fixed.
The Tufts Observer, Tufts’ oldest publication, is a compendium of stories, an archive, and a journal. I am grateful to Josie, Amanda, and the Observer staff for their talent, creativity, and commitment. Throughout this issue, there are colorful art pieces, a love letter to Indonesia, Spanish poetry, and the sweet sounds of Mandarin. These are our stories. At the very root of these visual and literary narratives lie a bed of letters and words as a vessel to usher us through. I am thankful for this publication, the language, the learning, and all the letters involved.
All of my very best,