Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Re: Questions, Comments

Actually, keeping a journal was one of my new year’s resolutions. Now that we’re well into February, I’m definitely not living up to the expectations I had in January, but what else is new. Anyway, I figured before I throw more questions onto the pile (I’ll save that for another post, perhaps), that I’d try and offer answers to a few of the questions Sam proposed that struck me:

Are words in anyone naturally? Is it learned? Do some people naturally leave the womb with the skill of words?

Although we all know that language is something we learn, it certainly seems like some people have a predisposition to learning language. In the same way that Albert Einstein or Stephen Hawking’s brains seem built to tackle questions of math and physics, perhaps other’s brains are naturally set up to have a gift for language and communication. Certainly an interesting thought. But to what degree is a capacity for language something you’re born with vs. something you can learn might be an even more interesting thought. I certainly don’t dare to think that I could ever write on a Shakespearian (or for that matter, Nabokovian) level, no matter how many decades of practice I put in, but is that true? What roles do nature and nurture play in the development of one’s writing ability?

How does a stutter impair words?

Coincidentally enough, I personally had a severe stutter when I was a child, and this question has often crossed my mind. I’d like to see a study on speech habits and their effects on the way people write, could be intriguing. Personally, I always found myself talking faster than I could think of words, so I always found the slower pace of writing and thinking out my thoughts helpful. I wonder how the brain processes that control speaking and writing are related? When I read, I guess I sort of silently say the words aloud to myself inside my head, but perhaps not everyone does this? I once knew a guy who, after he said something, would then move his lips again like he was repeating it, but without making a sound. There’s all sorts of interesting stuff like that, like that article Clint linked to on twitter.

In a time where images are more available and don't take as much time to process, have words gotten lost? Has language entered a new stage?

Perhaps so, it certainly seems like this might be true. With all of our youtubes, flickrs, TIVO boxes, and camera phones, images are more and more available and easy to create, and are gaining a more and more important place in our society and how we communicate. But perhaps this is not the death of words as we know them, but a shift in the way our society uses them. Perhaps now words not be used less, but be used differently, to communicate the feelings or values we associate with something, not just describing it. Also interesting is new mediums such as film, that combine literature and photography. I wonder where this relatively young genera will go in our lifetimes?

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