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to check

Language brings people to think in different ways, as I believe I can see in the verb to check. This verb leads directly to the checklist. Checklists are a wonderful idea, widely used by pilots in aviation and by surgeons in medicine, among many other professionals. Checklists save lives everyday. They are simple and easy to use. They are, when properly devised, foolproof. The English language seems to bring this kind of ideas easily into mind and from the mind into being. It might be the fact that, in English, a noun can become a verb that can in turn become an adjective and then an adverb and vice-versa. Maybe that helps thoughts go first oblique and then creative. But Spanish does not only lack a checklist, it doesn’t even have the linguistic means to build one in the first place! It has other advantages though, but instead of a proper checklist it has to make do with listas de verificación (or Prüfliste in German). That may be a checklist alright, but the concept shows by its clumsiness that it is of foreign origin (not so in German, Prüfliste sounds Teutonic enough, although in German the term Checkliste is actually more commonly used). It is not really untranslatable, but it has to be translated in an un-elegant way. I am afraid the idea would not have occurred to a Spanish speaker just as easily as it occurred to an English speaker. This is of course an unscientific, subjective assertion that cannot be disproved, but, in time, I hope to find more examples like this one to slowly corroborate my hunch. The hunch being that English is an extremely versatile language that can easily combine concepts to form new ones, thus allowing for progress by means of coming up with new expressions. Maybe one could even say that English is a very suitable language for capitalism. That might explain why modern capitalism started in Manchester and also why (bad) English is becoming the language of globalization. Well, perhaps this idea goes a step too far. The basis of capitalism is, after all, still rather more economic than a linguistic in nature. Still, language might play a role, albeit a secondary one. And words like to check might indicate the way this role is played.

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