Before you decide I have finally lost all grip on reality I suppose I had better explain the title of this post. This post was partially inspired by (two parts) Constable Chaos and (one part) Sgt TCS - there are other people who have played a part in the inspiration side who shall remain nameless (otherwise this post will be taken up with the roll-call of people instead of what I want to ramble on about). The above-mentioned Twitter doubleact got me thinking about the voices and language people use when they want to communicate using the written word (and the affect (intended or unintended) this can have on the people who read what has been written.
Regular readers of this blog know that I love reading and writing. They are my two favourite forms of communication (even though I can sit and listen to almost any kind of accent for as long as they wish to talk to me).
However, language can be a very complex tool. You have to make sure you are using the correct language (as in - there would be no point in writing in Czech or Greek if you want me to understand it, for example), you have to use the correct grammar and words (business correspondence is different from texting your friends arranging a meetup in town - oh and whatever you do - try not to use swearwords in something like a letter applying for a job), When you have finished getting all those sorted out you might like to consider what "voice" you use to convey your message.
That can be the tricky bit. If you are using a "voice" which does not come naturally to you the chances are it will show up when someone else reads it.
Allow me to explain;
A few years ago I was listening to a radio programme where two of my friends were being interviewed (a father and daughter). The interview was being done in the native language of the father (not English) which I had never heard the daughter speak prior to the interview - I had heard her parents speak it between themselves a few times.
The change in the father's voice when he was discussing subjects with the interviewer compared to when he speaks in English was amazing. He has lived in England longer than I have been alive and his English is excellent but his way of speaking can make me a bit wary of him sometimes. During the interview he sounded comfortable and relaxed.
Back to the point though.
I have never met either Constable Chaos or Sgt TCS but (thanks to Twitter, their blogs, and the occassional "Periscope" video) I have read what they have written and heard the pair of them speak (I don't think their "words are spoken by an actor" like Gerry Adams in the 1970's and 1980's).
The first thing I should say is that they both seem to write like they speak. Chaos is that nice combination between serious and fun - when he wants to have a joke he lightens up but he can be serious as death when he wants to be (like this blogpost he put up this evening constablechaos.wordpress.com/2015/06/20/holding-out-for-a-real-hero/). As far as I can make out - Sgt TCS appears to have one setting - "Put one foot out of line and I will arrest you" - maybe he is different around those who know him personally.
I know which one I would prefer to have on the end of a phone if I was in any kind of trouble and I had to choose between them.
I must admit the decision on what "voice" you want to use for your writing can be a tricky one. It depends on what you want to say to your reader (and - more importantly - what you want them to do as a result of reading your writing).
The most disappointing book I have ever read was David Coulthard's autobiography. Here was a man who had had an interesting career as a racing driver before he became an F1 commentator but - when it came to writing it down - he managed to make it sound extremely boring.
On the other hand - Sir Jackie Stewart wrote in such a way that I felt as though I was upside down in the trees with him after a spectacular crash at one circuit. He wrote in such a way that I felt like he was sitting down with me and talking me through his life as I read his autobiography. (For me - the sign of a good book is that I don't want to put it down until I have read it from cover to cover - even if it takes me all night without sleep.)
So, what about me??? If we were together would I sound the same as I "read"??? Those of you who know me in "real life" may think differently, however, I think I write exactly as I speak. I hope you get the sense that I am friendly (I do take time to trust people though), caring, and that I always say what I think. (I may not say it exactly as I think it - if I am really comfortable in your company - and I think you can take it - the English "Diplomacy" totally disappears and you will get my undiluted thoughts. The rest of the time you will get a choice between a more "discreet" version and complete silence. Complete silence is the most dangerous option as it means that I know you won't like what I want to say to you!!!)
I prefer sitting quietly with people I trust. The more comfortable I am with you the less talkative I get. Put it this way - the time to start worrying if I am OK is when you cannot shut me up. If you find yourself in this situation I am extremely uncomfortable around you for some reason (or - to put it bluntly - I just don't trust you and I cannot see myself trusting you in the foreseeable future).
We all have our ways of making ourselves heard and understood by our audience. The question is - do we show our true selves in how we write about our world (be it our version of the "reality" we live in or a fantasy world we create in a story)???
You might spend your entire working life speaking in three letter acronyms but is that really the most appropriate way to teach someone about your job???
I must admit there was one thing I found amusing regarding an acronym a certain person used in a Tweet last night - I am still no nearer finding out what the acronym stands for (as in what the different letters mean) but, apparently, whatever they stand for isn't looked upon very kindly by those who come into contact with it. The response to my request for a translation can be summed up as follows - "a waste of time, energy and effort which we are forced to attempt to use as part of our job - that is all you need to know". That was me told!!!
We need to be open and honest in our communications about our different worlds - otherwise - how are we supposed to learn to live comfortably with one another???
Learning a second language is all well and good but I don't think we have explored the limits of how English can be used yet.
||Add New Comment