Thursday, 19 February 2009

Pride and Anger

Pride, we all have pride. Just because you have fantasies about being sold as a slave or caned in a humiliating way doesn't mean that you don't have pride. Maybe it is because you have a little too much of that, that you have those fantasies. That could, very well, be true about me.

Growing older means, among other things, you see yourself a little clearer. Never believe you know completely what you are but it slowly becomes just a tad clearer with age. You begin to know what you are good at and what you are not so good at.

I am, for example, useless with complicated plot lines. Maybe that is why I don't like crime fiction and thrillers. It's sad when you sit and watch the great conclusion and don't understand what happened. 'Why was he so angry with the brother of his boss' lover because he had lost some money on the races and was that really a reason to kill the gardener's cousin?'

I am not so good at understanding long written texts, believe it or not. And I am useless with the remote controls of the things in our home.

I am, however, quite good with pictures. I recognise patterns easily and can have a guess at who painted a certain picture because I know their style. Despite the fact that I hate logic I am quite good at it, I have a maths brain but I prefer logic and maths when it is in pictures and not in text.

Another thing I am good at is to pick apart an argument and know what people really said and see the flaws and strength of it.

Back to pride. I am old enough to be proud of my achievements and to defend my position in subject areas I am passionate about. I wouldn't pretend to know anything about quarks or renaissance poetry but I have had a fair bit of education in Linguistics and Ancient History.

In fact, language is one of those things I am passionate about and I have read enough, studied enough, to have come across most of the main areas. I don't pretend to know the field but I have been around enough to know that when I do have an opinion I know it is well thought through. And when I am certain of a fact, I know why.

One problem with Linguistics is that everyone is an expert, everyone knows the language. To some extent that is true, the intuitive knowledge of how to communicate is the very basis for what we research within Linguistics. It doesn't automatically make you an expert on language history or typology or even formal grammar, though.

Mind you, it is not Linguists who pick on grammar and write complaining letters to the Telegraph. No, those are the language police, whose ranks are filled with over confident teachers and those who struggled through the old school only to now get the chance to pick on and bully someone else. Style in language is not the same as grammar.

The other day I found myself chatting online with somebody who I had experience of being quite insensitive and prone to saying quite hurtful things to me. But I had my reasons to give him another chance.

It all ended up in a silly discussion about the history of the English language. What is truth, one may ask? At least there is often an establish theory that is accepted within the research community and when I know what that theory is and agree with it it is hard to stand down when someone just tells you, you are wrong.

When that person tells you he is a public school boy and because of that he 'knows', it feels petty to point to your years of studies at the university. I don't claim that university makes you an authority, not at all. There is a tremendous number of idiots in academia and lots you could be ashamed of. No, it was just very tempting to hit back.

It is quite silly to row about something that is easy to check out – Wikipedia is a good start – and I don't know why I didn't stop it there. It became nasty. I like to stay on target and when I do, I don't like to be dismissed with 'do you know irony'. Bad cop out.

Anyway, this person is now deleted from my contact list and all is well with that. Why do I blog about this? Am I petty and whining? Well, yes, that is what I am. I am angry and hurt and this is my blog. I want to be petty.

Dear Readers, I guess I wanted a sympathetic ear or just wanted to get it off my chest. Thanks for listening. I know you to be very lovely people.

Just some advice for those who may be provoked by this. Don't say I play the dumb blond or call me a foul mouthed fish wife, ever!!


Manorlord said...

My dear Janice,
As rants go, yours was wide-ranging in content and affect. A good read, in other words, that flowed like a story.

Unlike you, I enjoy a good argument (or even a bad one), particularly when I am in the right (which is usually, but not always, the case). After all, I argue for a living. What I hope I avoid is ad hominem (what is the feminine equivalent?) attacks. The one who resorts to insults, in my view, has lost the argument.

I would quibble with you about the "language police." While I share your dislike of (what Mencken called) "schoolmarms," I see a value in attempting to uphold & maintain certain conventions of grammar, vocabulary and even punctuation (while embracing the fact that the English language is always evolving).

Anyway, FIE! on the dastardly fellow who called you such names. Were he before me, I would throw down the gauntlet of challenge to defend your outraged honor.

Though the old don in me might -- might -- want to cane you for the occasional slips in grammar or usage I think I detect from time to time...

Best wishes,

Wystan E

Janice said...

Dear Wystan, thank you for the kind words. Flow in a text is what it is all about, I least a lot.

I do feel horrible when having arguments even if I can be quite good at them...smiles.

And don't get me started on the grammar thing! I have never ever said anything against the importance of conventions. In fact, language is conventions and without them it breaks down. So, of course they are needed. Written text needs even more formal conventions than spoken and school has a duty to teach that. I have never ever said anything against that. Language policing, on the other hand is to take a moral stand and in your own stupidity think you know what the conventions are and how they work. And it is also very, very rude. My argument about grammar is a bit more subtle than you seem to think.

You are my knight, Wystan, and I do love you for that.

And I am not surprised that you would seek any opportunity to cane my bottom. But you may be in trouble if you confuse grammar errors with other kinds of errors. You would be on the safe side, however, if you choose to punish me for sloppiness rather than tread on the minefield that is called grammar. I am, after all, quite good at finding my way over it.



Anonymous said...

My dear Janice,

Hmmm. (Reading and rereading).

Ever open for opportunities for punishment (or would that be your position, er, role?), and always ready to take...a hint...

The indictment for (un)grammatical gaffes is hereby withdrawn, (without prejudice).

However --

I hereby CHARGE YOU with...


Prepare yourself for six (your favorite number) times six of the very best, from the slashing stripes of the terrible tawse of --

Yr. most Humble & Devoted Servant (& ect.)

(Sir) Wystan E, Esq.

Anonymous said...

"He wanted me to wear a shorter skirt because he could see more of me..." is a reasonable, if a tad egoistical, assumption, but you have already confessed to that [pride]... I should have you, as did all my former accomplices, NEVER wear "knickers" as you in England so fondly call what my grandmother would have called "bloomers" [image conjured by a word] under that, however short, skirt, and never cross your knees, that your open, depilated sex was a reminder to you and a few fortunately knowing [or surprised] others of just that, your sexuality and vulnerability. Amazingly effective at maintaining your 'Feuchte Gebiete' state of anticipatory arousal... :-)

Janice said...

Dear Wystan, the charges are severe:

sloppiness, guilty as charged
slovenliness, I plead not guilty
selfishness, guilty, always
slothfulness, I didn't think I was, really

You are my knight, I trust your judgement and will prepare...but how?

Dear samos, the egoistical in his desire to see more of her, is really at the centre of it all, that which gives it meaning. Today, I believe, knickers are what you Mericans call panties.

Hugs and thanks for your comments.


TFP said...

Female passion & emotion, desirable!


Mina said...

Sir Wystan, well crikey. Janice what have you done declaring him a knight...smiles.

Blogging is an excellent way to vent your frustrations and hurt and I hope this has helped you as it seems to have done.


Ollie said...

A fine rant Janice, and you are right about not confusing grammatical with moral faults, far less typographical ones.

It always hurts to have an argument, and people can be very wounding under the veil of internet anonymity.

I'd like to suggest that resorting to abuse whilst indicating to those of a pedantic bent that an argument has been lost does not necessarily indicate that the cause was incorrect, merely that its champion was insufficiently sharp or eloquent to defend it.

Janice said...

Dear TFP, I do hope you are not going to say: 'you look lovely when you are angry'. Smiles.

Dear Mina, writing is very powerful and cathartic. Wystan? Well he promised to protect me and that was very gallant. I liked that.

Dear Ollie, thank you for your support. Somehow it annoys me that the matter of eloquence should come into a matter that is about facts, at least facts in the sense that one view is firmly established in the research community and another is old fashioned and proven wrong. It is easy to check.