October 8, 1960
There are moments while reading the Synthesis of Yoga when I feel so clearly why he put this particular word in that particular place, and why it could not have been otherwise – that's what makes the translation difficult.
For the placement of words is not the same in English and in French. In English, for example, the place an adverb occupies is of major importance for the precise meaning. In French also, but generally it's not the same! If at least it were exactly the opposite of English it would be easier, but it's not exactly the opposite. It's the same thing for the word order in a series of modifiers or any string of words; usually in English, for example, the most important word comes first and the least important last. In French, it's usually the opposite – but it doesn't always work!
The spirit of the two languages is not the same. Something always escapes. This must surely be why “revelations” (as Sri Aurobindo calls them) sometimes come to me in one language and sometimes in the other. And it does not depend on the state of consciousness I'm in, it depends on what has to be said.
And the revelations would probably be more exact if we had a more perfect language. Our language is poor.
Sanskrit is better. Sanskrit is a much fuller and subtler language, so it's probably much better. But these modern languages are so artificial (by this, I mean superficial, intellectual); they cut things up into little pieces and remove the light behind.
I also read On the Veda where Sri Aurobindo speaks of the difference between the modern mind and the ancient mind; and it's quite obvious, especially from the linguistic point of view. Sanskrit was certainly much more fluid, a better instrument for a more... global, more comprehensive light, a light containing more things within itself.
In these modern languages, it's as if things are passed through a sieve and broken up into separate little bits, so then you have all the work of putting them back together. And something is always lost.
But I even doubt that the modern mind, built as it now is, would be able to know Sanskrit in this way. I think they are cutting up Sanskrit as well, out of habit.
We need a new language.
We need to make a new language.
Not some kind of esperanto! – but sounds springing straight from above.
The SOUND must be captured. There must be one sound at the origin of all language... And then, to capture it and project it. To make it vibrate... because it doesn't vibrate in the same way here as it does above.
That would be an interesting work.
The words must have a power – an expressive power. Yes, they should carry the meaning in themselves!