October 14: bowing to the synchronic

Language is is fraught with difficulties. As an individual I want to use my own words. I don’t want to say yo or yay; I want to say hiya. I don’t want to say the movies; I want to say the pictures. I don’t want to be the slave of the on trend. These are the words of my youth; they are part of me. I am living the language diachronically, through time. But some words you cannot live diachronically; you have to live them synchronically, as though they are only of today. I cannot say the word darkie for black person even though it was a word my mum used for all the right reasons and also a term I remember Muhammed Ali using. Today we are forced by our culture (which is more powerful than us, and rightly so) to use the term person of colour, even though this term makes no sense to me, as if the two blocks in the world are white people and others. We must, however, bow to the stupid synchronic.

What I can do perhaps is maintain a critical discourse on usage, whilst remaining in its thrall.


October 11: i kid you not

I heard the expression I kid you not used as I was travelling on the train this morning. i have not heard it for quite a time but I suppose its day has come as it takes its place with those other modern pre-affirmaton statements like I swear to you; I’m not going to lie to you. These prefatory insistences pepper modern speech (I’m sure you have noticed). Emphatic and declamatory, I live them as a boorish and boastful preface to mostly banal utterance. They are rhetorical features, I suppose, looking to convince us with stardust, all form, bullying the listener into better attention. What I would prefer is a complex utterance told modestly, rather than this, where we often get dull material given the big intro. It is so much nicer to devine complex material delivered seamlessly, articlately, without shout.