April 29th, 2002

i'm good!

It didn't start this way, but who am I to argue with minor discoveries?

Hotmail's motto is: The World's FREE Web-based E-mail.

That statement irritates me to no end. It needs a superlative of some sort in there, otherwise it just sounds dumb. The World's BEST FREE E-mail or The World's MOST USED FREE E-mail or SOMETHING. It sounds like one of those Japanese products with an English write-up where they forgot a word. My Ayanami Rei box, for example, reads, "2015 A.D. mankind faces a crisis any in human history." I've actually had fun trying to see how many ways I could make it correct. Greater that, unlike, worse than, etc. It's cute when the Japanese do it. Not so when an American company just fucks it up because they're stupid.

I'm a details person when it comes to language, most of the time. It's one thing if I'm having a casual discussion with someone, or an AIM chat, whatever. Usually, I let grammatical errors and the like slip, and spelling doesn't matter to me. Even then there is one thing I'll always correct--my name has no hyphen. Hyphen ja arimasen. No hay el hyphen. Il n'y a pas d'hyphen. I don't know how many more ways I can say it. Patrick did it for years, I don't think he understood that it actually bothers me. But, to get back to the main rant of this rant, I'm cool with most mistakes when the stakes are low.

However, I expect more of the language of documents and speakers where the stakes are higher. If you're writing a paper, a novel, giving a speech, acting in a play or movie, making up a slogan for a huge industry, I expect a little more from you. I want proper pronunciation, good grammar and punctuation, the works. Do I value it more than content? No. Do I think it's still important. Yes.

This gets me to thinking, of course, because that's what everything gets me doing these days. Why do I value this correctness of language so much? Why am I such a details person when it comes to the written and spoken word, along with remembering names? (I feel this falls into the same category...I'll wrack my brain to remember the name of a character in a book, because I want the words.)

The answer is that language is more powerful than people give it credit for, and I am acutely aware of it. Terrence McKenna said, "The world is made of language," and he's right. How do we do anything if not with language? We communicate our ideas, feelings, and stories through this medium. We THINK in words, for the most part, and if the world is completely inside our heads, then isn't language what our world truly is? I like having the power someone's proper name, the power of a large vocabulary, the power to shape my world as I choose. I don't like a hyphen in my name because, while it may not be me, it is the representation of me that people put into their world, and it's not the same as the one I want them to have. Shape what you want to say with care, because if you don't, you're not transmitting yourself as clearly as you could be. Should be, in my opinion.

Words are important to me. In his review of Memento, Chuck Palahniuk states how, "written information can't teach, according to Thamus. You can't question it, and it can't defend itself when people misunderstand it and misrepresent it. Written communication gives people what Thamus called 'the false conceit of knowledge,' a fake certainty that they understand something." Spoken words, if recorded in such forms as movies or records, can do the same thing. If you're careless with words, your attempt at communication will be treated by me with either anger (if I expect better from you) or carelessness (if I judge by your lack of regard that your words don't matter to you, they shan't matter to me either.)

I think this shows in the things I like and chose to do, and looking at my friends especially. Most of them are people who are well spoken, and often eloquent. Someone I can get into a semantic argument with is someone I will truly value as a friend. If you have a gift for metaphor and analogy, I am likely to be impressed. I care about people who care about how they represent themselves and their world through language.

And, as most of my best self-discoveries do, this one has come just before lunch ^_^. I'm going to eat, but if anyone would like to discuss this with me later, I'd be most delighted.
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