Monday, July 2, 2012

Word problems 2

My main objection to the writing in the Shades of Grey trilogy was the steady and repetitive use of four letter expletives.  For me, shouting out the F word at a moment of high ecstasy is dumb and cheap.  If you have never felt that way before, anything you shout or cry or moan might be ok.  But afterward, sit off by yourself and examine your memory and your feelings and your vocabulary and find a more fitting, more poetic exclamation.  Next time, a better word will enhance the moment.

I like good humor but when I try some stand-up comedian on tv and the 30-ish audience guffaws at every cuss word uttered, I am not impressed.  If you work in language as a writer or speaker, surely you have noticed that imaginative, sensitive, well-crafted words get more appreciation and do more good than dulling minds with the endless way-over-used incantations of bodily functions.  

I hope you have had a chance to watch "The King's Speech", 2011 Academy Award winning film.  It is moving and a good refresher on the fact that we are in an age of media.  In the old days, an orator could speak to an assembly but not a nation.  As radio came into being, an audience all over the world was enabled to hear each breath, each consonant a speaker used.  Not an easy time to be asked to lead one's weary and frightened country with inspired speech.

True, his teacher encouraged the King to use the F word in his exercises.  If you have faced what he faced and have the same terrible difficulty, go ahead and use a common word for sexual intercourse.  But notice the King practiced in private and did not shout his exercises outside of the practice room nor over the new-fangled, intrusive and very up-close medium.

Several books and other resources explore the stretch of English all over the globe.  A common term for English that has been stripped down to essentials and modified for local use is "Globish" as in the book by the excellent Robert McCrum called "Globish: How English Became the World's Language".  It and other works point to the use of English between pilots and airports of all nationalities all over the world.  Of course, the internet and the worldwide web are rife with English or part-English.  

About a decade ago, there were something like 30,000 search engines, like Google and Bing.  The one that really got me started was Lycos, which seems to still be available.  Google can translate between any of something like 60 languages as can Microsoft's Bing.  Thus, there are even more words in more places and from more types of people, professions and positions than ever before.  The total of more than a trillion web pages is more than a surfeit, more than an oversupply, more than a deluge.  Just as you aren't going to read all the books or see all the movies, you aren't going to read all the words.  You can pick and choose while keeping a little time and energy for serendipity and exploration but at times, you are simply going to have to go to bed or eat or stroll.

Just as there is more food than you are going to eat, more drink than you are going to swallow, there are more words and ideas than you are going to be able to give even a tiny bit of attention to.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby