I haven’t written in a while. This was because I had finished my first year of University and for a good few weeks now I’ve felt like I ought to talk about what my first year at Uni was like but, in all honesty, I feel I’ve said all I need to say on the University front for now at least. I like privacy and I like freedom. What else is there?
But I was inspired to write about tonight’s topic when I was thinking the other day about my father. I love my father dearly but we’re so alike we repel. Like magnets, as it were. One time we had an argument, an incredibly fierce argument, that ended when we realised we’d been arguing the same side. One of the big differences between me and my dad, though, is our language. My dad is of the mindset that you should use one word in place of three if you can help it, and one syllable in place of many as well. He often mocks me, in jest, for my habit of using big or exotic words or my technical vocabulary. I in turn ridicule him for his inability to communicate clearly when he isn’t giving the conversation his undivided attention.
But I was thinking about it and I was wondering to myself why I liked using so many words. If I can help it I’ll use a complicated grammatical conjunction in place of two separate sentences and I’ll use plenty of words where one might do – particularly when I’m angry or distressed. When I get angry I get ridiculously formal and will start talking in a mild form of legalese. I came to the conclusion, pondering over my habits, that I use words because I love words. My dad loves numbers – he’s a hobbyist astronomer, a physicist and a graduate engineer. He likes engines and science and technology. I like all those things as well but I don’t understand them nearly as well. I count with my fingers occasionally, for heaven’s sake.
No – the difference between me and dad is that I like words. I love ’em. I love how they can provoke emotion, how they can form song and sonnet and serenade, how they can inspire great deeds or horrible crimes, how they can frame, portray and shape the mind. Words are our most important faculty – without out highly advanced communication we would be indistinguishable from the other apes. But I also love the sound of words – the phonemes and consonants and vowels. I like how some words form in the mouth and how some play on the ear. I also like discovering the little idiosyncrasies in our speech that defy the actual written, ‘correct’ language we’re all supposed to abide by. I love how around my area we don’t say “I’m going to the shops” but rather “I’m goin’ tuther shops”, how Scotsmen form their ‘Os’, how me and my brother have adopted my father’s strange, Dundonian habit of pronouncing “Stupid” as “Shchoopid“, how my Irish friend says “Alligator” and, perhaps most delightful of all, how Americans pronounce “Little Italy” as “Liddle-liddly”
I have some words I hate to pronounce – words like “Hospitable” and that awful curseword “c*nt”. I am one of those people who don’t like to swear all that much. The intent is very much there but I don’t like saying the words out loud. I think this is because I don’t like the harsh noise of the words – f*ck, c*nt and tw*t. They’re all so unpleasant. I use ‘lesser’ cursewords like ‘bugger’ and ‘damn’ because I much prefer the sound of them – they’re pleasing and amusing to shout out.
I think this is part of why I love foreign languages and, particularly, Russian. I adore Russian phonology – the Shushes and Zhushes and rolled Rs – and it’s why I love the sound of Russian singing and, thereby, Russian language. Their word for ‘baby’ or ‘toddler’ is малышка – “Malishka”. How lovely and soothing a word. The Hindi word for ‘smiles’ is मुस्कुराहटों – Muskuraahaton. How pleasing a tune – how it bounces along: MUS–koo–RA–ha–TON. French has “cœur” meaning ‘heart’ and Spanish has that delightful habit of its older generations pronouncing “España” as “Eshpaña”. Welsh have the soft whistle of “collasant” meaning ‘they lost’ as in the glorious “My Hen Wlad Fy”, the awesome and beautiful national anthem of the Welsh-speaking peoples.
Words and sounds are literal music to my ears. Oftentimes I will rewrite entire sentences to allow for a kind of rhythm to bounce along the words or to allow for a sort of flow in the phonemes. I would not be surprised to discover I have some strange deficiency of the mind which causes me to live my entire life in a sort of obscure poetic meter. I’m a big fan of rap when it allows for words to string together in combinations that had never occurred to me. It’s like how a painting combines colours to make something amazing you’d never seen or thought of before. Rap, poetry, literature and indeed the spoken word itself all allow for the coming together of sounds and ideas into a piece of music. I love words.