Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fluency = The ability to Improvise

I think a very significant sign of being fluent in a language is how much you can play with it. How much you can bend it to your will. This doesn't come from a disregard of the rules, but rather an awareness, and a willingness to experiment with them. For me, the most successful use of language is to create something that leaves a strong impression, something that's revolutionary to your audience (and you, too!).

For example, dropping words where it's not expected, or adding phrases where there seems to be a call for minimalism - the subversion of conventions in a pleasant, charming manner. It's almost like being culturally inappropriate, but, at the last minute, returning to a conventional point of reference.

At any rate, a bit of charisma goes a long way. You might not be fluent in a language, but if you memorise a speech in it and deliver it with great flair and feeling, you will have made a strong impact on that culture.

Over the past few days I have found out who I am again - my voice seems stronger to me. I feel more in touch with the place it originates and how far I can expect it to carry. Taking away its usual powers has made me more aware of what I use it for - and what I don't.


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Poppy and Personal

Did you know that I asked Robyn a question via Twitter and she took the time to answer it on video? I was so delighted to discover this that I couldn't stop laughing incredulously. Please take a few minutes to view below:


In my opinion Robyn walks a fine line between maintaining popular appeal and rebelling against tradition, and while I am a bit less likely to use the word 'postmodern' to frame her now, I think some aspects of poMo theory help bring out the depth of her sophisticated experimentation. 

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