The Naked Tongue

Language: it’s one of those skills like walking or swimming that’s so well “suited” for nudity that you don’t need anything at all other than your own self. We have to learn to swim, and even to walk, and of course we also learn how to speak. We call it our mother tongue, from the association of the development of mouth and tongue muscles to the act of breastfeeding. In most languages, the word for mother includes the “m” sound made with a mouth movement similar to suckling.

A Society6 print available here.

When you’re learning a second language, and you get to the point where you dream it, understand jokes, slang and politics in it, and you even get to the point where you don’t need to translate first because the language just comes straight out of your mouth from your brain unfiltered, then we say you’ve internalized it. You’ve mastered it. You own the language and can produce it from within. You might need books and videos and quizzes and etc. to get there, but once it’s yours, it’s inside you. No one can take it away from you. It is literally a part of you, just like any other skill.

But unlike cooking, or carpentry, or clarinet, it’s enough by itself. No extra tools. You don’t need a pot, or a spoon, or a stove. You don’t need a guitar, drum, or piano. No net, ball, or mitt. You don’t even need a pencil, paper, or keyboard if you are speaking and listening (not reading and writing). Like dancing and singing, speaking is one of the most creative things you can do naked – no equipment necessary.

It follows that learning a language is another great thing to do in the nude. Learning a language is a great thing to do, period, but in the nude? Ideal: you’ve already dropped all your clothes – you can be comfortable learning new sounds and words and feel free to make mistakes.

My colleagues on this site, Robert and Paul, also know several languages. I’m sure they can attest that in the particular area of naturism, being able to state your thoughts straight from your head in more than one language is very good for reminding us of the global scope of naturism. All human societies have contexts for social nudity. Just like any other area of human interest, we can learn much more from each other in the original tongues of our peoples. Each language, like each speaker of the language, possesses unique expressions that shed light on understanding our world.

From the First Americans Museum in Oklahoma City.

Language learning is a passion for me, so it’s been very present in my novels. Nudity reminds us we are all human; language reminds us of the vast variety of human expression that we can produce with nothing more than our bodies.

2 thoughts on “The Naked Tongue”

  1. Entirely true, Will.
    Languages open up new worlds. There is a thought behind a language, I don’t know how to put that exactly. When I “am” English, things are different than when I am “Dutch”, “German” or “Norwegian”. It is as if the spirit of the language takes over part of me and makes me see the world in that light.

    1. I agree! There is a saying from Czech, I believe – something like, ‘as many languages you know, as many souls you have’. People say that you can become someone different, or take on a new personality, when you learn a new language. I think there is a lot of truth in these popular expressions about the power of knowing languages.

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