Okay, so you’re an IT professional, right? That means you’re pretty good with computers and computer programming. I, for one, could never deal with computer programming. To me, even the simplest HTML code is completely and utterly unintelligible, but for an IT professional, code can be an intuitive way to send richly detailed messages. Here’s an example:
There is no way I could translate this code into standard English; maybe a professional can, but I am certainly not one. I can, however, understand bits and pieces of it though, and gather a few bits of information from it. I can guess that the </html> symbols at the beginning and end symbolize the start and finish of the code. By seeing “blueborder.jpg” in the text, I can deduce that this code will display something on a computer screen, and it’s probably something blue. Furthermore, I know a little bit about color hex codes, and a quick Google search of “#FF0000” tells me that some text will be written in red. Finally, I can also see that the text will be written in the font “Brush Script MT.” So you see, I can understand parts of the code, and gather some information, but I cannot visualize completely what this code is trying to tell me.
Likewise, the same can be said about Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Although it is written in English, it can look like a foreign language to some. For example, modern English doesn’t tell us to include “bounti-hed” in our vocabulary, but Spenser tells us that it means “cherished.” Sure, we can take bits and pieces from the text, and get a general understanding of it, but unless someone is very well trained in Medieval English, they will have a lot of trouble while reading Faerie Queene.
Both Faerie Queene and HTML code are similar in that they are written in “almost” another language. While they are both technically in English, they are very difficult to understand for the untrained. This is where the value of reading becomes obvious. To an IT professional, and to the common reader, new languages allow us to understand more of our surroundings, of our history, and of our future.