Monday, October 13, 2008

One of my favorite things about linguistics

Well, I may not have figured out what I'm going to do with a degree in linguistics, but at least I still know why I like it! In my thesis (on the phonology of fantasy neologisms) (by the way, how cool that it's online! hee hee hee!), I discussed the role of language in literature. Great literature uses language to its fullest advantage. To steal an example from myself: in Huck Finn, Twain uses Huck's uneducated hick dialect to create a verisimilitude (that's a word I had to use a lot in my thesis) that draws the reader into the story. In "Soldier's Home", Hemingway uses his spare language and indirect descriptions (e.g., the bacon fat hardening on Krebs' plate) to pass the characters' feelings on to the reader. Dr. Seuss used rhymes and fun made-up words to make his stories engaging (and really, don't we all believe, deep down, that there are such creatures as Whos and somewhere there's an elephant named Horton?). And sometimes, literature passes its special language on to the lexicon.

There's not really a branch of linguistics that studies this, but I love examining the interplay of language and literature. I could spend all day at it. Oh wait--I have spent all day on it occasionally.

Anyone out there have any other examples of literary language? (Oooh, that could be a book title. Or a rock band. Okay, not a rock band. But I think I'm obligated to write a book called "literary language" now.)


Tel said...

How about the language in "A Clockwork Orange"? That says a lot about the massive political changes that took place between the (then) present and the future.

Kate said...

Oooh, I like. I'll have to read it (I managed to get through high school & college w/o reading A Clockwork Orange. I'll make it a point to read it soon!)

Thanks :)

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