Tag Archives: language

Another Author’s Insight: Frances Richard.

Stress is not only a fact of engineering, but a property of language; punctuation is a system for designating in writing the critical points were emphasis—stress—is to be laid. “Point” and “punctuation,” furthermore, are etymologically related, both deriving from the Latin pungere, to prick or pierce. DESTRUCTIONAL PUNCTUATION is therefore not as contrary as it seems. Holes made by piercing a built fabric and dots or dashes laid down to punctuate a text perform analogous functions, creating order by introducing spaces. Thus inflected, the building becomes articulate, legible. As such, although it has been destroyed, it WORKS. It performs an unexpected cultural labor, becoming operational at a new level. . . .

~ in Gordon Matta-Clark: Physical Poetics, University of California Press (2019).

 

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A Virtual Irish Vacation.

Discover the Irish Diaspora:

Cassidy, D. (2007). How the Irish invented slang: The secret language of the crossroads. Petrolia, CA: CounterPunch.

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Defying Mrs. Grundy.

Irony at its best.

I get a chuckle out of contemplating how writing gurus and publishing gatekeepers, by their sourpuss anathematizing of the adverb as an unnecessary part of speech, and by their stigmatizing proverbs, colloquialisms and idioms as “clichés” (all of which writers are told they must avoid using, or expunge from their writing), unwittingly transform themselves into poster children for the ultimate idiomatic expression: “Mrs. Grundy.”

If the Grundyists of the wordsmith world had their way, all writing would be as drab and unfocused as a week of winter rainstorms.

Proverbs, colloquialisms and idioms developed over millennia of communication. They paint pictures in the mind which are based on real human experience, thereby fostering reader empathy for fictional characters. In this way, they bring vibrant color to dialogue, in a manner which no amount of “turning the air blue” with profanity and obscenity can do.

 

No matter where their origins, or what language they speak, everyone comes up with these gems. I studied Hiberno-English usage when I wrote Irish Firebrands. Now, I’m  studying German idioms as part of the research for my work-in-progress, The Passions of Patriots, a prelude to my first novel (in which a character had discovered an ancestor’s involvement in the First World War). I’m impressed by the imaginative ways Germans have developed to express the experiences that occur in all people’s lives.

It’s not for nothing that the Bible admonishes, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). The familiar phrases that are used in every language are also like highly polished precious metals which can adorn our writing like beautifully wrought antique jewellery.

What are some of your favorite sayings?
Have you used proverbs, colloquialisms, and idioms in your writing?
If you write fantasy which has an imaginary language, does it have traditional sayings your characters use?

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