Tuesday, 14 August 2007


Those of you who know me, know that I have a bit of an ongoing fascination with English. I'm often overly excited by a particularly well turned phrase. I greatly enjoy both conversation and reading. If you've ever chatted with me using an Instant Messenger, you'll know that, in a medium with a brutal disdain for grammar, I tend to fully structure sentences and use punctuation.

I'm not sure where this particular fascination came from. Is my reading habit a cause, or an effect? Regardless, I realized this evening, as I was reading Robert Service's poem Call of the Wild that sometimes, the power of language truly transcends it's content. There are a number of poems that affect me that way:
Those are just a few that popped into my head. All of them have stuck with me over the years. If, in particular, has one of my favourite lines of any poem: "If you can bear to hear the words you've spoken, twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools." It encapsulates an entire aspect of life in a single line.

I think we underestimate the power that effectiveness in our spoken and written language has over others. I can't speak to the impact in other languages, but so many of us are judged by the ability we demonstrate in English. People think I'm particularly intelligent, not for the content of my thinking, but for the manner in which I communicate it. Boy do I have them fooled.

Cultivate language. It has a power to impact. It can influence in a manner that transcends the power of the content. I do not advocate style over substance, but rather advocate that substance must be presented with style, or be lost in the endless sea of banality.

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