Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Power of Words

...even if I did not understand what she was saying, I understood what was being said.
- from "The Ocean at the End of the Lane," by Neil Gaiman

Ansset's tone had got through to them; they felt that despite the nonsense of his words, he was speaking affection and understanding to them. This is a beautiful language, he seemed to be saying, and I understand your pride in it.
- from "Songmaster," by Orson Scott Card

I loved the sound of the words, even if I was not entirely sure what all of them meant.
-from The Ocean at the End of the Lane," by Neil Gaiman

There's more to spoken language than words. There's tone and context. And yes, context still applies even if you don't understand a word being said. Context gives the words a purpose, and without a purpose, there's no need to open your mouth (though that doesn't seem to stop some people).

Languages are beautiful. I've been known to take a spare word here or there and integrate it into a piece of art. Sometimes it manifests as a name, that, to those who understand the translation, learn new depth about the place or the character. Sometimes it manifests as a title, drawing attention to something that might not normally catch your eye.

When I do, I put a considerable effort into it, making sure I'm using the right word in the right context, being as precise and as accurate as I can be. It seems to me that improper usage (not dissimilar to mistranslations, especially when tattooed) are disrespectful to the language, and that is the last thing I am trying to achieve.