13 November 2005

"I want a divorce."

Consider this:

Man to his wife, "I will not cheat on you this week."
Wife to man, "I want a divorce."

Now, why? The man is pledging his fidelity. Why does his wife want to divorce him?

Because when she hears, "I will not cheat on you this week," she unconsciously adds, "But next week I may very well cheat on you." The man's statement (or should we say, the words of his statement) are really an honorable, loyal thing to say. But somehow, for any native speaker of our fine language, we consider it a dishonorable thing to say. Isn't that incredible?

Or this-A priest says to a man and a woman (or a man and a man, if you're in Vermont), "I now PRONOUNCE you man and wife (or man and man, or wife and wife)." What is it about the pronouncement of the priest that is able to create a union? Or are the words pointlessly ceremonial and something else is creating the union? Can a union be created without words? How about the naming of a child?

I read (by mistake) the most fabulous treatment of Iago's use of questioning in "Othello."  Malcolm Coulthard, the author of the text "An Introduction to Discourse Analysis" from which the essay came and a member of the faculty at my university, ends the essay and the book with these words: "As you close this book you might like to speculate on the function of full stops. Are they perhaps interaction points, places where the writer thinks the reader needs to stop and ask questions about the previous sentence, questions whose range I initially restrict by the structuring of my argument and which I subsequently answer in the next or later sentences?
But now, for me,
the rest is silence."

As I suspected, linguistics has so much to say to the arts, for the novelist and the poet.

Yoko and I celebrated first "official" two months together eating Thai food at the top of the second tallest building in Niigata then slow dancing under a street light on the bank of the Shinano River, me singing  "Something" while she held so tightly to my sweater and laughed into my neck. We have the most quirky energy, a kind of electric, sexual humor.

We were in the bookstore and she was looking for a new schedule book so I wandered to the children's rack to look through the book "オッパイの秘密” or "The Secret of the Breast." The secret of the breast is that it creates milk.

The secret of my breasts? They're getting bigger and harder. Like a gorilla.