It’s an unusual name for a website, so why ‘A Mirror of Mind’? The reason is simple.
I was living in Italy. It was early 2017, it was a pristine, chilly day and I was living in my eighth country of residence, teaching English. I remember the day clearly – it was a weekend and I had spent a wonderful day exploring one of the treasures of northern Italy (I believe it was either a walk in Verona or one of the towns on Lake Garda – not sure which)
I was sitting on the train from said location back to my home in Romano di Lombardia. I absolutely love podcasts (I have not written about too many, but I feel I should), and at this time I happened to be listening to a podcast by the Guardian Science Weekly on one of my main passions in life: language. It was discussing Universal Grammar, one of the things I had studied in some detail at university whilst studying for my degree in German and Linguistics.
“One reason for studying language – and for me personally the most compelling reason – is that it is tempting to regard language, in the traditional phrase, as ‘a mirror of mind.'”
I cannot claim to be particularly proficient at language learning; nor can I claim to be a polyglot of any kind. Nevertheless, I do have a keen interest in all things linguistic, and I have thus far over the years managed to hold a reasonably decent conversation in (I think) seven different languages, and I do always try to learn a language when I live in a country so that I can get by and make somebody chuckle at my terrible attempts at their tongue! Despite all of this, languages have been a core element in my life since I was sixteen and decided that German would be the primary A-Level qualification to go for. I did quite well (thank you Mr. Palmer – if I am lucky enough to bump into you again when I am at home in England, I will have to find some way to thank you) and this continued into my early twenties thanks to the University of Southampton and the wonderful Erasmus program.
As I write this in 2019, I find it hard to imagine my life without languages in one way or another. My entire post-university career has involved teaching a language, as well as trying to take on a new language every year or two. At a time when I was thinking of finally documenting some of my teaching ideas and uploading some of my travel experiences, this podcast provided me with the inspiration I needed to start this website and, hopefully, allow others to glimpse at the mirror of my mind in some small way.