The Obvious

a penny for my thoughts won’t be enough

Posted in emotions, home, important, language, me myself, people, photos, places, thoughts, travel, valuable lesson, writing by theobvious on June 23, 2008

This trip turned out to be a learning trip. It was so rich with revelations there was practically no room left for much else.

I learned once again about real friendship, which doesn’t always need to involve personal presence, but is all the more exciting when it does. A friendship I value is a lucky, tricky, strange, full, and happy convergence of two people who couldn’t be more different or more alike. I am lucky to have several of these.

I learned about being the object of the emotions other people usually evoke in myself: concern, kindness, incomprehension, puzzlement, impatience, endless patience, affection, and a desire to share. I haven’t thought much about the way I react to these, and it is probably time to give it more consideration.

I learned a very important lesson about coping with loneliness. I was by myself a lot on the trip, however this was not the self-sufficient solitude of choice, but rather the desolate loneliness of choicelessness. The hours I spent this way left me despairing, with nothing to apply myself to, scared. I want to avoid these.

Finally, I learned something about writing. Someone gave me ‘Lost in Translation’ by Eva Hoffman to read, and the slow, soft, reflective style of someone who went through assimilating a whole new language as their main means of self-expression is an epiphany for me. There is much food for thought in this.

looking up

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blogging in the language of cool

Posted in language, rant by theobvious on May 26, 2008

For some reason, the English language is considered wildly attractive, even exotic, in this part of the world. Anything Anglo-Saxon equals ‘much better than anything our own culture has ever produced’. So much so that it is often used as the following:

1) A marketing trick. Heed my word, merchants of the world: if instead of ‘New Donuts’ you write, say, ‘Nouveaux Donuts’ in the window of your greasy food and watered-down coffee joint, the clientèle will double overnight, and the sales will go through the roof.

Sales increase also guaranteed in shoes, cosmetics, hairdressing services, freshly butchered meat, yachts, and bears. Words you can use include: New (Nouveau, Neue, Nuovo), Free (Gratuit, Kostenlos, Gratis), Great (Exquis, Herrlich, Eccelente), and others to that effect.

2) A way to become instantly cool. This goes out to every teenager in the former Eastern Bloc: brush up your English. It gives you access to levels of awesomeness previously unheard of. Such gems as Whatever, Really, Like, BTW, and so on enrich your language and make you gloriously aloof.

Similarly, if you just use English words instead of those bland things they call words in your country, you will come across as independent (sorry, I mean indie), artistic, maybe even mysterious. I also recommend you put random English phrases in sharpie on all your hoodies. And sneakers.

3) A literary device. Because really, who wants to read stories and poems in those boring old Slavic languages? They all sound the same anyway. However, if your writing is full of English words or even sentences, it becomes so much more sophisticated.

Who needs metaphors, allusions and alliterations! Give me a story stuffed full of gratuitous foreign language insertions any day. I love reading with a dictionary. Finishing a short story in under four hours is just lame, I’d much rather spend a day on it, looking up words.

So, all this advice – absolutely kostenlos. Don’t you find this just eccelente? Tune in next week for the next installment of Linguistic Rants: ‘Your Music Is Better Than Ours, Sulk Sulk’.