Wednesday, December 26, 2018

--- Language and me ---

Me and language? Language and I?

(Head slap) It's not even a sentence! Forget it!

What do you expect. I'm an animal. (Movie reference)

I'm dyslexic, I think in images, I stammer, I occasionally can't pull out the words I want to use, and, yes, I talk to my self.

Verbal language is not my first language.

But, then, my contrariness has served me well more than once. I have always been fascinated with and have enjoyed those things that I am not supposed to be able to do. That's why my favorite x-sport is rock climbing (or, it was until I clocked up so many hand injuries that my grip has gotten weak. A rock climber climbs with their hands, not their feet.) and rappelling.

I was not good at language so I was in two gospel groups and two advanced church choirs for many years, have two minors in world literature, joined the speech troop in college, and have spoken publicly....a lot. If you can find the Auburn Circle from the 1970s, I have stuff published there. The Circle is the Auburn University literary magazine.

I can tell you stories...and I probably will.

I'm not much for board games (they bore me), but if you can drag me into a game of Scrabble or Pictionary I will be ecstatic. I love crossword puzzles, Cryptoquotes, puns....people say that puns are low brow. They're wrong. Puns are perpetrated by people who love language and, consequently, love playing around with it.

Double talkers slay me - luckily there aren't that many around any more. The last two I can think of are Archie Campbell (if you haven't heard his "Rindercella", you must find a copy and listen to it.) and Norm Crosby. I'm sure there are others around, I just dropped TV when they went to high definition.

My favorite linguists are James Kilpatrick and Bill Bryson. Kilpatrick was actually a journalist. Wikipedia calls him a "grammarian" - I beg to differ. A grammarian would never say, "If you understand what I'm saying, then I'm using correct English." A linguist, on the other hand, would. He had a popular newspaper column on the English language for many years.

Bill Bryson wrote a book about an attempt to walk the Appalachian Trail (A Walk in the Woods). He's a professional author. He also wrote The Mother Tongue, Made Here in America, and Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words.

I can speak a little German (a very little and very slowly) and can read considerably more. I still have a little American Sign Language left. I'll probably brush up on them some day. Just now, I've started a last ditch attempt to learn Spanish. The MIT OpenCourseWare course I'm using is fun - I'll see if it's effective.

As you get older, it's harder to pick up new languages. I have a friend who is my age that makes it a hobby. I think he's got 20 or more that he can speak conversationally, but he does it constantly and has been learning languages for many years. I still have hope.

How about you? Are you a "language person?' What's your story?

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