1. waitingforzion

    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Potential for Voice in the English Language

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Sep 12, 2017.

    This thread is to neither encourage nor discourage anyone about writing, but to discuss the potential of the English language for various kinds of writing styles or voices, which I will define as that quality of sound produced by the arrangment of strong and weak stresses, and the various kinds of pauses occuring between them, whether those that are separated by punctuation, or those that occur between phrases not separated by any marks. I think this discussion will be enlightening because there are many different styles of writing, each characteristic of one or more works that have been published, some of which I believe to have a distinct poetic quality, such as the King James Bible or other religious texts like the Quran. Now the chief concern of this discussion should be this: What features of the English language, either in vocabulary or syntax, permits this kind of thing to occur, given that in many of these works, it is not the esoteric words that are used, but the common ones, or the ones that would seem to be the most obvious choice. We will have to conclude either that the English language was designed to accommodate these works and their authors, or that the diction of each work is not the default mode of expression, but how will we prove this proposition? Please do not argue against the divine inspiration of the Bible, but leave any issue related to that out of the discussion. Please focus on the nature of our language and the diction of its works and their authors.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  2. thirdwind

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I know you specifically asked about common words, but I'll mention this anyway. The beauty of the English language is that it unashamedly borrows words and phrases from other languages. Assuming one has an extensive vocabulary, this makes it fairly easy to express a large number of unique ideas because there is almost always a word out there to fit your needs.

    As far as voice and style go, the language has very little to do with it in my opinion. It all depends on the writer's creativity. Take Hemingway for example. He uses simple words and phrases quite a bit, yet he's able to adapt the voice of the piece depending on the situation. Poetry is another good example where poets will use unorthodox stress patterns and/or punctuation in a creative way to call attention to important lines. So in addition to the language itself, you should study the writers using it.
     
  3. Bill Chester

    Bill Chester Active Member

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    Now the chief concern of this discussion should be this: What features of the English language, either in vocabulary or syntax, permits this kind of thing to occur, given that in many of these works, it is not the esoteric words that are used, but the common ones, or the ones that would seem to be the most obvious choice.

    When I read, I subvocalize. I hear the words in my head. I like the cadences of your writing.

    I lived my whole working life (35 years) in Montreal and the most pleasing part of living in Montreal was hearing so many different languages. I didn't care what people were saying, only the sound of their language thrilled me.

    English has its own sound. So many sounds, though, depending on location and dialect. I wonder how an Indian would read your writing--they would place the stresses differently, no doubt.

    Where is your English location and accent, if I may ask?
     
  4. archer88i

    archer88i Contributing Member

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    The relevant feature of the English language is neither vocabulary nor syntax, but just the fact that it is not a tonal language.

    The reason that English is the broadest, most expressive language at the moment is simply that it benefits from several hundred years of primacy as the lingua franca of Europe during its peak cultural development. While English was not itself the common language of the West until quite recently, most of our vocabulary is effectively French, and French was the lingua franca (...ha) for long enough that we actually call it that--basically right up until Napoleon pissed off everyone on earth and people started speaking their own languages again. Later on, there was a shortish period when German culture was on top, but I'm saying we get to claim a part of that, too, because English wraps French vocabulary around a fundamentally Germanic framework.

    ...In short, we have a language where how you say a word is distinct from what the word is, and we have been stealing vocabulary from other people for at least the past thousand years. This means there isn't much anyone would want to say right now that cannot be said nicely in English.
     
  5. Earp

    Earp Banned

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    “I’m a word freak. I like words. I’ve always compared writing to music. That’s the way I feel about good paragraphs. When it really works, it’s like music.”

    ― Hunter S. Thompson
     

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