Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Birds and Babies Singing

I'm still struggling with Pilgrim at Tinker Creek ... I'm halfway done!
Some reputable scientists, even today, are not wholly satisfied with the notion that the song of birds is strictly and solely a territorial claim.  It's an important point.  We've been on earth all these years and we still don't know for certain why birds sing.  We need someone to unlock the code to this foreign language and give us the key; we need a new Rosetta stone. Or should we learn, as I had to, each new word one by one? It could be that a bird sings I am sparrow, sparrow, sparrow, as Gerard Manley Hopkins suggests: "myself it speaks and spells, Crying What I do is me; for that I came." Sometimes birdsong seems just like the garbled speech of infants.  There is a certain age at which a child looks at you in all earnestness and delivers a long, pleased speech in all the true inflections of spoken English, but with not one recognizable syllable. There is no way you can tell the child that if language had been a melody, he had mastered it and done well, but that since it was in fact a sense, he had botched it utterly. (pg 106)
I remember M-girl, in particular, as an infant would say a whole phrase of baby-jabber and if you asked her what she said, she would repeat the phrase inflections and all.  She was clearly trying to say something at 9 or 10 months and it was so cute. It is interesting to me that our language has these two components ... the melody and the meaning.

It is interesting to me to consider how so many of us now have the words and the meaning, but no melody to our speech and writing.  I think that's why I've stuck with this book despite my misgivings, Dillard's writing has melody to it.  I want to have that.

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  1. Good for you - sticking with a challenging book is worth it in the end.

    Did M learn to sing before speaking? My child who was very intent upon repeating the melody and rhythm of speech was an early singer.

  2. Arnold Bennett whom I quoted would say well done for reading a hard book! Your baby talk example brought a smile. Emily began doing something like this too which was so funny to me since the boys had never really done that. I clearly remember a lady visiting me when Emily was just newborn and while we sat on the couch chatting Emily struggled to coo along.

  3. Really liked this: It is interesting to me to consider how so many of us now have the words and the meaning, but no melody to our speech and writing.


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