Thursday 10 March 2011

An Exercise in Language

An interesting little line from Evelyn Waugh:

I regard writing not as investigation of character but as an exercise in language, and with this I am obsessed. I have no technical psychological interest. It is drama, speech and events that interest me.

I don't know if this is entirely ingenuous. A far simpler truth would be that though the emotions are doled out pretty equally to all members of the species, the ability to express them is catastrophically variable. It would be impossible to live on earth for long without wondering just a little about your fellow man, and whether he's as unhappy as you; but pen and paper are extra.

Anyway, a little example of Waugh's language. This from Decline and Fall:

'Old boy,' said Grimes, 'you're in love.'
'Smitten?' said Grimes.
'No, no.'
'The tender passion?'
'Cupid's jolly little darts?'
'Spring fancies, love's young dream?'
'Not even a quickening of the pulse?'
'A sweet despair?'
'Certainly not.'
'A trembling hope?'
'A frisson? a Je ne sais quoi?'
'Nothing of the sort.'
'Liar!' said Grimes.

Technically, a linguistic exercise.


  1. I love reading books too. It is one ways to enhance my knowledge on language. Through with it, I had learned a lot using right grammars and unique words.

  2. Learning different languages is a very interesting subject. I've been learning it for months now. It could be my weapon for my future career.

  3. Language teaches evrything.It is where we express our feelings,opinions and culture.It makes our lives easier eventhough we do have different ways of translating it.Though we speak on German language if having it on Swedish translation it would just have the same meaning.It is just the way of expressing it.