Julia Kornberg

  • fiction April 14, 2022

    The Good-Enough Mother Tongue

    There is a Shinto myth called kotodama that implies there are divine powers in the Old Japanese language—koto meaning “speech” or “word” and dama meaning “soul” or “ghost.” In this cosmogony, different words were believed to contain different qualities: a positive word could bring positive spirits and a negative word could wake up the demons inside. Practitioners of Shinto would erase loanwords from Chinese during their rituals to make their prayers as linguistically “pure” as possible. Nowadays, however, if you google kotodama, the internet returns links on the New Age potential of Aikido,