Things I Resent Like a Lot:
English not stealing accent marks along with the actual word itself.
This is just because I found a fun app to practice my Spanish, and it keeps beeping up with a friendly reminder that I'm missing my accents, and I blame English for this, because really, what the hell.
Though to be fair here, we could have had them before the Conquest, or centuries having to listen to Norman French before English brutally fought it's way into the common parlance and ate and killed all language nearby (if you look at it as English having a massive, massive overeaction to being almost smushed by the Normans, a lot of its rules make sense) we rejected all things with accent marks, thus creating Fun With Phonics, where any given letter in the English alphabet can and will unexpectedly decide to change how it sounds just because when we stole it from someone else, those fancy accent marks, what are they for again?
This was really brought home to me at work a few weeks ago, where one of the testers said something--I don't even know what--and I stared at him blankly for a while, then asked what he just said, then had him write it. Reading it from a purely non-native speaker view, there was no possible way to connect the written word with it's correct (English) pronunciation even by accident. It's one of the few--very few--benefits of being ages five through now living life text based; half the words I use I couldn't pronounce correctly, but luckily, my online social group is of the same type and they can't either, so it evens out.
When I pronounced it for him (to give some context, it's a word that shows up specifically in testing jargon, so I wouldn't have remembered it past my SATs if I wasn't a tester), we looked at each other and that piece of paper with probably the same familiar expression anyone, native speaker or not, who has to deal with English gets probably once a day: English, why are you like this? To cheer us both up, he introduced me to Ram Bahadur Bomjon, who he swears up and down he totally saw meditating once and interpreted bits of youtube for me, which I assume was to console me for having to be a native speaker of a language that's clinically insane. He's nice like that.
But I digress. This is what makes it hard; I know why they are there, but for the life of me I can't remember them. They're painfully useful, they tell me how to pronounce the word correctly, but it's like I don't even see them until the program reminds me cheerily Careful of your accent marks and I think of English and hate a little inside.
About Why I'm Interested in Trying This Challenge:
Habit is powerful, and one of the things I did first when I started at diaryland was make a deliberate effort to make an entry every day to force the habit, and for the last eighteen months, I spend at least three out of four days writing fic, because for a long time I stopped hearing the things I would later write. I've talked about this before, and last year, before my father died, I started to write again, and it was a nightmare, not to start, but the effort it took not to stop when I thought the story did.
Here's the stupidest thing I never considered; the problem might not be in lack of inspiration but the loss of the habit of expression. To write what I think is to express a thought, and that tends to lead to more of them, not less. Thoughts breed in captivity poorly, but they thrive when given form and sent into the world to be fruitful and multiply. It might help, I thought, staring at MSDoc's mocking blank screen, to consider this an exercise in free range breeding. Which is not a sentence I ever thought I would not only write, but rather kind of like. Seven hundred thousand and chnage words later (including cut sections), I can state with some certainty that this seems to have worked pretty well, and sometimes I sit down and all at once, from nowhere, there's an entirely new idea, newborn and very loud, waiting impatiently for my immediate attention, and then I notice it's not one, it's an entire litter of them, all brand new and loud and demanding my attention until the words I write give them their very own form.
That's what you can do with the power of a habit.
In a lot of ways, for a lot of people in fandom, including me, to write in public, be it fiction or not, is something we've been doing for so long that we don't think, don't remember, don't entirely comprehend the memory of the first time we did it, on a messageboard, a mailing list, a journal, newsgroup; it was so hard, even to write a sentence, a single word and send it into the nameless, faceless vastness of the internet, because a lifetime of training had told us if we had nothing to say, be quiet, what makes you think what you have to say is important, no one cares what you think. To presume to write and post on the web where it felt as if the entire world was watching and judging your words to see if they were important enough for attention wasn't easy, but easy stopped applying altogether, since the world's judgement of what qualified as important had nothing to do with writing a single word.
Cat macros, what you had for breakfast, and that weird growth on your toenail are important; the macros were cute, breakfast meant you were less grouchy at work, and hey, that doctor you saw was kind of hot, it's the life you live and by definition that makes it the most important thing you will ever do, being the medium by which you do anything at all. Human memory is volatile, we lose so much of our lives to background beyond recall and our lifespan is approaching the century mark, and in that time, we will be many different people, dozens, sometimes a couple of different ones every day, but I won't remember it the same, memory is volatile, but when I read my journal, I get to meet every woman I've ever been again. She was important, all of them were; they made me. And years from now, when I read this, I'll read this entry, by the woman I am now and I won't be then, and I'll be able to remember her. My mind is a container for all the people I've been, the people I am, and the people I could one day be; its a world entire in there, and that's the world who judges what is important enough to write.
Survey says; everything's important, habit is good, and the idea for the latter half of this entry began newborn and squalling with these words as I wrote them: Habit is powerful. Three words by the clock one hour ago, when I thought of astolat's challenge after answering a comment she made in my journal, when I started this entry and had no idea what to write except that app I just downloaded, and God, those accent marks, that thing at work, hey, about that challenge, I should mention it, Habit is powerful and just think, an hour ago, an hour ago, I stared at a blank entry page and had no idea what to write.
The experiment in free range breeding is going very, very well, thanks for asking.
Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/982280.html. | You can reply here or there. | comments