Thursday, May 6, 2010

Language; Tis mysterious


I have been contemplating on what to write these days. Meaningful that is. I have ideas that nibble on my brain for quite some time, but I feel like I need to slam my forehead on a flat surface to produce something structured and coherent. However, I want to be short and sweet as far as language goes, because I’m positive this is A) rare and B) therefore not a topic with an easy answer.

When I mean language, I do not refer to actual means with which the writer sculpts a story on the proverbial white sheet. I mean language as in English, Spanish etc. What I know about the act of writing boils down to ‘I am not writing in my native tongue, so Geronimo and hope this works in a remotely possible way’*. Therefore, my preoccupation lies with grammar, clarity and not committing linguistic suicides [waste instead of waist or was it the other way around]. One day however, while at the amateur book club at the university, we talked about language, because I was the only one writing in English [as opposed to everybody else, who stuck with Bulgarian].

“Why?” they asked.

“Because it’s easier…” was the explanation. As illogical as it sounds, I find writing fiction in English to be effortless as compared to Bulgarian. Why though? Yes, I have studied English as much as other people have, perhaps a bit more, and I have written in Bulgarian before. I did the switch to English as a senior in high school and it worked.

“Perhaps, it’s easier to be honest and express your feelings in a language that is not your own.” The Club Moderator guessed and I have been thinking about it really.

Language is power. Native language is a part of a person as much as anything else that more or less defines a human being as an individual. As we all know, writing is a striptease of the heart, where the artist exposes his opinions, his beliefs and his feelings. He** does so with his own words in his own language, which further deepens the intimacy and when the time comes for the writer to take the plunge into the deep, he chickens out, holds back, fears the exposure and therefore the story is less than it could have been.

So far all this is pure speculation; I am spinning theories as always.

But what if a screen can be raised? What if the writer writes in a foreign language, where the words have the meaning, but don’t have the emotional memory responsible for the reluctance in going full Monty?*** Then the writer would have control over what he’s comfortable with and how he projects it on others. He would inject the emotions with the fear of overexposure sedated a degree.

I believe that there may be a grain of truth to this assumption of mine and it does make for an interesting foray into the rich psyche of a writer. What do you think? Nay or yay?

* - according to beta readers, it does, so I am hoping that some editors do bite the hook.
** - I am going for the universal He, though I take into account the lovely and talented writers from the opposite gender.
*** - Laugh with me?


Charles Gramlich said...

Actually, what I meant in my comment on my blog was that you were one of the few who picked up on what I thought was obvious, that the collection was heroic fantasy. A lot of the folks who visit probably don't read that much HF and S&S. I knew you did, and would recognize names like Howard, Wagner and Gemmell.

Harry Markov said...

@ Charles - commented on the original post.

T.S. Bazelli said...

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." ~Oscar Wilde

I think only you can answer the question, but I think there's some truth to this quote too (which could be applied to language, or even anonymity of the internet).

Harry Markov said...

I know that this topic isn't a good conversation starter, because there are not many who do that. I know of a few authors, who have done so like Ilona Andrews [Russian] and Cornelia Funke [German].

Ale- Yummy ::Hell:: Faery said...

Wow... I love this post ^-^ I can relate to you. My native language is Spanish, and in some was it is easier to write in it because it is more specific, but at the same time it is so cheesy that it bugs me. On the other hand, writing fiction in English feels as if it is meant to be... Don't ask me to ecplain it, but that is the way it feels for me. =)

Ale- Yummy ::Hell:: Faery said...

I meant "ways" instead of 'was'... ^-^

Harry Markov said...

I understand, where you are coming from. It is pretty much the same, though to be honest my language is super complicated to master as far as creating writing goes. When you don't have that connection with it, the result is pathetic.