The pen is the tongue of the mind.
Miguel de Cervantes
I thought the tongue was the tongue of the mind? Five senses and all.
Sorry… this quote is just very… weird to me.
Lots of single-syllable nouns in a small space, H.G.
That was my first thought, too. It might be a poor translation from the Spanish. I’ll check with a native speaker whom I know. It can be a very idiomatic language — like English.
Good point. My Spanish is meh. I understand it better than I speak or read it. But then, I’ve learned it mainly from working as a medic in little Mexico. Though many a patient has been unpleasantly surprised when the gringa responded to their unflattering comment. LOL!
The translation is exactly correct. I don’t know the work it’s been taken from (although the Quijote is so huge it could easily be taken from there), but regardless it seems nicely poetic to me. Don’t overthink it!
Wasn’t overthinking it. That was my initial, gut reaction. I enjoy poetic writing, but this one escapes me. I would say it’s probably the medic in me as my brain instantly reverts to physical connections when human anatomy is referenced. My second reaction to this quote was thinking about the 10 cranial nerves; hence my comment about the five senses.
Glossopharyngeal nerve is responsible for taste in the 1/3 posterior of the tongue. Facial nerve is responsible for taste in the 2/3 anterior of the tongue. The intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the tongue are controlled by hypoglossal nerve.
But then, that’s how my brain has been trained to work and I have to deliberately shut it off to think poetically.
After some Googling: The pen is the tongue of the mind. – Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) – Don Quixote, Part ii, Book iii, Chap. xvi
So I dug out my Cervantes and read the sixteenth chapter. I think, in context, that Cervantes, speaking as Don Quixote, is using tongue to mean ‘a/the language’, rather than the organ in the mouth. It is in the first sentence of the second-last paragraph of the chapter. Of course I could be wrong…
That makes more sense to me rather than the literal interpretation. Much like saying speech is the language of the mind or the written word is the language of the mind.
I don’t necessarily mind even the literal interpretation, but I have been suspicious of aphorisms in this form ever since the late lamented Creative Computing magazine published a program to generate them automatically. (IIRC, the article was entitled ‘Blip is the Blap of Bleep’.)
After fiddling about with the BASIC code on my primaeval TRS-80 (remember BASIC? remember TRS-80s?), and getting output like ‘Mercy is the stepmother of incoherence’ or ‘Despair is the kidney of leprosy’ — well, I came to the conclusion that it was very easy to make up metaphors of this kind that sounded profound, but were, in point of fact, completely bogus. Cervantes’ little adage is better than that, but to me, at least, not striking enough to overcome the staleness of the ‘blip-blap-bleep’ form.
‘Despair is the kidney of leprosy’
Now this I can get, lol!
Seriously though, I agree with your conclusion, Tom. Many adages (of this nature) sound profound, but really, they’re nothing more than strung together words.
While the idea of the pen being the language of the mind or the physical output for the language of the mind, it’s really quite obvious and also incomplete. Many things are the language of the mind. Oral stories, physical expression, and singing as well as the written word. The human mind will find any method in which to express itself; hence any language or tongue. Not just a pen.
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