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Category: language (page 1 of 2)

Lingo, local, overseas and lovely languages.

Podlike: ripe with allusions

Mixed emojions

banks of red lights

Lighting a fire under the allusion of words

I dearly love The Allusionist and picking just one great episode verges on the impossible. Helen Zaltzman’s podcast always fills me with joy and while I can’t rightly say this is my very favourite episode, months later it does still makes me laugh. I find I’m still quoting parts of it to other people (my dear, tolerant friends).

I’ll be honest, when I saw the word ’emoji’ in my feed I was tempted to skip it and let the emoji snobbery have its way. This episode delighted and entertained me, and has now utterly corrupted me. I have acute and incurable premature emojulation. I suspect Ms Zaltzman would be proud.

The Allusionist is frequently surprising, subversive and powerful. This episode was an early, shining example.

‘this is a subversive commentary on text, because the text is all about how women are just there to be seduced; they’re just body parts. So she’s saying, “They’re just body parts, are they? I’m going to pick them and put them in a pie.”’

Helen somehow waltzes us around, through and towards a truly serious underlying issue. While the episode is supposedly about emoji, there’s a whole lot more going on.

The episode’s under 17 minutes. Take some time out and sit a while under the penis tree of language, allusion and emoji.


 

The love of words

A firewoman in full gear


  A fiery woman: ‘brandweervrouw’
Image via Nationaal Archief

Funny, isn’t it.

People sometimes say that names don’t hold meaning. That they don’t define you. But they can. And in the age of the internet, usernames are an opportunity to add meaning to who you are. Yes, my name is Rosalie. It’s a name I was given. It’s nice. It’s got rhythm. It’s not too common. Often though, when people call me by it, I wonder who they’re talking about. Rose, I’ll go by sometimes. That’s nice and short. But it’s still pretty floral. Sometimes Rosa, if I’m so inclined. In reality, that’s just playing with form.

Ever since the internet came along, I’ve had usernames that aren’t my actual name. More often than not, they don’t disclose gender. Sometimes they deliberately play with age. Beyond that, there’s barely any thought put into them. I’ve had a tiger, an item of clothing, a waterbird and quite a selection of sentences. They all seemed nice at the time. The ones that lasted are the ones who attracted their own audience. On and off through time, an occasional username has stuck and held its own. I don’t entirely understand why. I do know what a gift it is. That it allows me to play with my sense of self.

I’m not sure that the playfulness comes only from the name out front. Sometimes the label can begin to define the person inside. But these names, they’re honestly about what lies underneath. The strong names. The hard names. The silly names. The lovely and the loving names; they’re all me. Or aspects of me.

In a time when privacy is being eroded and identity is claimed to be about trust, this is when I want most to protect these names. Not just for me, but for every single person that needs to breathe. That needs protection. That should be given a space to play, grow and live.

When I went with the username @theloveofwords some years ago, I was working hard to find a way to spend more time with words. I was playing with them, and writing more during the day and creating more at night. So, on a whim I went with my heart. A heart full of words. I wasn’t hiding who I am. After all, here it is, it’s me. But, as ever, it’s a version of me. It is not the whole of me, but it often becomes a very large part of who I am.

No. These names were never just a name. I would only be fooling myself. It was never nothing. Every time, it was about the little things that I love. This time, it was about the words. All of them, big and small.

I do spend more time walking among the wild, wild words now. It wasn’t an accident. I’ve worked hard. And this latest name has made it fun. It calls to me. The words too; they call to me. They define me. What this is, is love.

Yours

The love of words

Recalling the yabby

beautiful black and white photo of a chef and a giant pot

What’s in the pot?
Stirring image by SMU Central Uni Libraries

The Macquarie’s Australian word for this week is yabby.

Seeing that word gave me an immediate tap into a distinct childhood memory. A good tale, because, like so many good yarns, it’s tinged with a faint hue of horror.

We used to go yabbying as kids. Though that’s not quite the honest truth. It’s more that I used to go running around in the creek or on the railway when my brothers left me behind as they went yabbying.

One day I convinced them to take me along and show me the ropes. I begged. I pleaded. I even promised to behave. And even though I was a little kid, I did behave. It was bewitching to watch. String, catch, net. Squirm. They were catching river bugs! Yabbies, they called them. Beautiful was what I thought.

On the way home I picked out the prettiest, bluest beautifulest one. I named him. Goodness knows what. I only recall that he was now mine. My new pet yabby.

I left him and his mates on the back verandah, swirling around in a sturdy bucket. I didn’t want to leave him, the shining little wonder, but I’d been called inside. Who knows what for. A bath, a tidy up, a telling off? Or something equally ridiculous and unimportant.

When I came back the bucket was empty. I left the backdoor swinging and went through yelling for my Mum. Where was my little mate?

You can guess, can’t you? I couldn’t. I can still remember it. The kitchen. The slow dreadful walk. The big lidded pot, boiling and roiling.

‘Mum? Where’s my yabby?’

She picked me up so I could get a proper look. What a good mum.

I can still hear my screams to this day.

Podlike: Neighbors & refugees

The language learner

a bank of lights

shining a light on the Neighbors podcast

It’s been tough choosing the first episode to review in this podlike series. In the end I was swayed by some of what’s been happening recently in Australia.

Most good podcasts invade your thoughts through sheer physical closeness. Their words feel as if they reside beside your brain, if not inside it. Neighbors is one of these. The storytelling is close and personal.

The episode the language learner dropped into my podcast feed around the time there was an incoherent verbal attack on refugees. The attack was ridiculous, contrary to evidence and completely lacking in humanity.

This episode of Neighbors spoke to me. It is a deft and warm example of how storytelling can bring us close to the real humanity of an individual. When Jacob Lewis speaks with Gin Thawng, a 66-year old refugee from Burma, their connection is immediate and clear.

Gin and I did connect. And it’s because we do share the same language: presence.

This story is a timely reminder that literacy and refugees is an important issue. And what matters is how people are treated; with humanity and heart.


 

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