limitations of language

Language helps us to communicate, and our vocabularies are designed to both describe and differentiate. Hot, not cold. Bright, not dark. Smooth, not rough.

This morning, I got to wondering about the words inside and outside. Each one of these words speaks to the presence or absence of shelter. Same goes for indoors and outdoors. At what point did human beings start to make this distinction? We developed living outside. Even with finding natural shelter in caves, “outside” was the natural way of being. So would there even have been a word to describe it?

Perhaps there were words that indicated “beneath the sun,” “in the shade of clouds,” or “beneath the canopy of stars,” but that speaks more to the time of day or the weather than it does to the assumption of shelter.

So what was “outside” called before nature was differentiated from the shelter (and isolation from nature) of buildings?

These are the sorts of things I think about in the shower.

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