Language is living when it grows out of dialogue.

In the sense that Martin Buber uses dialogue, it can mean a kind of exchange or interaction (though the latter word was probably unknown to him) between people, between a person and an animal, even, and this is an example in I and Thou, between a person and a flower on wallpaper.

Language lives when it something other than exchange information. We have so many smart machines that do that now.

Language is living when it is ostensibly dead. Words in a poem, an essay, a love letter, were given birth in a dialogue. To my mind, there are akin to the terminal moraine that a glacier leaves, or better, the way tree branches wave in the wind.

I remember travelling by bus between Ottawa and Toronto in the days of Fall. The first cold winds had just begun blowing through the trees. The particular paths of color through the trees by the side of the road, the records of the wind, the species of trees, and even the particular nutrients in the ground, all left their mark on this living language.

Of course, these high water marks, or any floatsam left by any tide, requires my dialogue with them to ignite their particular nutrients into their particular fire. But this is what most brings me into the world. This most shatters the Chains of Doom.

Living language is a technical term for a language that has L1 speakers--that is, native speakers, for whom it is their first language.

English and Portuguese are examples of living languages. Latin is basically a dead language, even though it is used often as a scientific or liturgical language. Hebrew used to be a dead language, but was recently revived.

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