It is fascinating to think that just picking up new words off a dictionary can actually change the person you become. We need to have the words to give shape to our thoughts, and if we do not, our thoughts remain a shapeless, indefinite cloud. If you do not know what you think, then you cannot know who you are, and you cannot be happy. Some thoughts are more visceral than others, we feel them more in our gut, the pounding heart, shallow breathing, some thoughts consist of images, like a video replaying itself over and over again, some thoughts are so strong, they must evince themselves in the body: a clenched fist, a head studiously bowed downwards, as if the neck had a broken hinge. Our words come clothed in an accent, the tone of our voices, the gestures we make. I think the lure of learning a language comes from discovering new ways of looking at the world – from the eyes of another culture. Words are how we communicate with other people, and also how we communicate with ourselves.
Acquiring new words increases our capacity to understand ourselves and the world around us; and as our sensitivity to self and the world expands, we seek words that will express the subtler, more complicated persons we are becoming.