When I was studying in university, a professor shared the following statement:
“When a baby says his first word, that means he has learned the language of his parents completely.”
Upon hearing this I could not help but raise my hand and ask the professor to delve deeper into this statement, as quite frankly, I believed it to be an exaggeration on his part. The professor had a reputation for being extravagant but we must bear in mind that the subject he taught was Semiotics.
Before my question the professor froze, meditating upon my question in silence, his eyes on me. He took a notebook and a pencil and said to me, holding up the notebook:
“What is this object called?”
“A notebook” – I answered.
“And what if I told you that this is a pencil?” – He asked again referring to the same object.
‘I would tell you that you are mistaken” …
“Go deeper into what you just told me. If you tell me that this could not be called a pencil, it is you who is mistaken”.
He then explained that the word notebook is a set of 8 letters that at some point in history a human being chose to name this object. It is completely arbitrary, and therefore could have any denomination that someone would have considered correct and society would have accepted.
That's why he commented on infants, because during the first months of life, the child is exposed to endless words every day. When they say “Daddy” for the first time, the child understands that this life form is their father and not his mother. The only thing that remains in the coming days is to learn to gesture each of the words that make up our language, because they have already developed the understanding of what each word represents.
The teacher continued explaining that it could be said that the child was truly born when he says his first word, because the main difference between us and the rest of the species of the animal world is the articulated language.
This anecdote always makes me reflect on the importance of words. If even in the Bible, the Gospel according to John starts saying: “In the beginning was the verb …”.
It is inevitable then, to reflect on the power of the word. So why do we constantly strive to belittle it? Every time we remain silent and do not give our opinion, every time we declare with our voice that we are going to be on time and we are late, each time we promise something and do not comply, we are breaking our word, that unmatched gift that nature and life granted us.
I think that just to honor what we say is where integrity is born, understood as honesty, respect for others, correctness, responsibility, emotional control, self-respect, punctuality, loyalty, neatness, discipline, congruence and firmness in their actions. Does it really have everything to do with the word? Yes, and a lot.
In the moment in which we measure the importance, the impact and the value that our word has – that representation of our voice – we learn to honor it in our actions.
My work inside of Mijo! Brands focuses on just that: on language. And I found in this space an integral place where what has been said is fulfilled. How else could we dedicate ourselves to communication if our discourse was dissonant with our actions?