Archive for March, 2008

Ouch

I gave myself concussion again at the weekend.

This upsets me for two reasons. Firstly, I’m not sure I can afford to keep losing brain cells. Or more precisely, if I am going to sacrifice them, I want it to be on the altar of something good. I don’t want to do it getting a big ole egg on my head and spending a day puking and shivering.

Secondly, it ruins the pattern, and patterns make me happy. I have had concussion every other year for close to a decade, but but but, the last episode was in Shanghai in November ’07 (on schedule), so I’m not due another bout until at least January ’09.

Now the pattern’s all messed up anything could happen. What if I start getting concussion every other week? What if I develop a pattern for wrist-breaking or alopecia?

Anyway, it’s been 36 hours since I fell down the stairs, and I’m still feeling sick as hell 😦

Want

I need sexy undies for my wedding night, right?

You know you’re at a geeky party when…

You toast a friend’s birthday, he replies by raising his glass and shouting “Tonight we dine in hell,” and the assembled guests all respond to this with a spontaneous chorus of “Nom, nom, nom, nom.”

Oh dear.

“Just a quick note”

To the boy who grabbed my boobs last night
This isn’t really acceptable behaviour. In this instance it wasn’t massively unacceptable – I didn’t scream, the Boy didn’t swing for you – so don’t feel guilty or worried or anything, but bear in mind that in different circs, with different people, you could get yourself in a lot of trouble.

To the purveyors of Blue Poppy couture
Your clothes are over-priced and fussy, but they make excellent nightwear. I can personally recommend sleeping in the French silk shirt, fully clothed from the waist up and naked from the waist down, on the sofa. Most comfortable.

To the Boy
Yes, I know what Perl is. Your incredulous face only makes me love you more. Also, I have drunk all your Orangina, and why, oh why, are there no painkillers in the house. Oh, and have you ever taken a swing at anyone?

Coinkydinky

After I wrote the post below, I sat down with my cup of tea and my comic book and read this

Beyond Bou Chougga is a dreadful place, beside the yellow waters of the sluggish Zaire, where acre after acre of the ground is choked with sickly lilies and the clouds hang fixed within the dismal sky, and do not move. The region is called Silence, and in the days it took us to pass through it we were all of us far too dispirited to speak.

It’s from The League of Extraordinary Gentleman’s New Traveller’s Almanac. God bless you Mr Moore.

Silence

I thought I was past my winter doldrums, but I crashed emotionally yesterday afternoon and still felt bad when I woke up this morning. Perhaps the psychiatric equivalent of your immune system packing up and leaving you with the flu just as you start a two week holiday?

Anyway, one way to stop myself brooding too much over these ups and down is to distract myself with stupid questions. Here’s what I was pondering this morning:

How do you measure a person’s vocabulary? If you showed someone 20 random words from a dictionary and they were able to define 16, would that be sufficiently robust for you to claim that that person could define 80% of the words in that language?

And how do you know how many words a language has? Is someone simply paid to count them up in a dictionary? What if the language doesn’t have a dictionary? Compile one?

Which leads me to more interesting pondering. As not all languages have the same number of words, there must be some things you can say in one language but not another. Perhaps (I have no idea whether this is true) there is a single verb which means ‘travelling somewhere very quietly and slowly’ in Icelandic.

This isn’t to say, of course, that such a concept can’t be expressed in other languages – I just showed that – but it does cause me to wonder whether there are certain things that can honestly only be said in certain languages. If there are, how will I ever know? That which cannot be spoken of…

No formal theory for my language

One notable failing of my schooling (they did pretty well by me on most fronts) is that no one really taught me about grammar.

I remember at nine or ten going through passages and underlining verbs in red and nouns in blue, but the subject didn’t really come up again for five or six years, and when it did it was in French, not English.

Mme, perhaps not unreasonably, assumed we would know the difference between a perfect and imperfect future (so many epic answers to that one), and we all nodded dutifully and learnt the words, without ever understanding why they were different.

This hasn’t really impaired my life much, despite the fact that scribing keeps a roof over my head. As long as you write things that makes sense, no one cares much if you can explain the importance of the subjunctive mood.

Trouble is, I’m starting to care. I am reading Growth and Structure of the English Language by Otto Jespersen and about a third of it is going straight over my head.

Apart from anything else, this strikes at my vanity – it’s not often I read something I can’t understand (I read a book about Spinoza once that confused me more then I suspect just reading Spinoza would have done).

I also feel like really, truly understanding the structure of the things that I say and write would give me some sort of key to their identity. It’s about more than just word, and using them properly. Language is a record of how and why we’ve ended up where we are. That’s something I’d really like to try and grasp.