Thursday, October 28, 2004

Communication in all Forms
In posting the preceding entry about Pilobolus, it occurred to me that though many people would not consider that the least bit linguistic in nature, I do. I don't try as hard as the posters at Language Log to maintain only posts with at least some slight linguistic link, but in this case, posting about a dance performance doesn't strike me as out of place at all.

At one point, I went back through my life and tried to find some common theme in my interests and pursuits, and what I came up with was communication. From kindergarten until 4th grade, I was involved in ballet. In middle school, that turned to modern dance. In both middle school and high school, I was heavily involved in two-dimensional art, to the point that I once considered going to art school for college. In high school, I took up playing the cello, though never very well. There was also writing throughout that time as well, stories and characters created in class as an effort to fight against boredom, that then tried to blossom into more full-fledged literary attempts as I went to the Duke Creative Writer's Workshop two summers in a row. After high school, my writing seems to have taken a more non-fiction turn, but I blame that on lack of time rather than wont.

It was in high school, though, that I actually discovered that I could love foreign language, when I switched from "the awful German language" to Spanish, and then moved on to Japanese, (and Chinese, and Maputh√ľngun, and ASL, and Old English.) What this has in common with all the other things I had done was the theme of communication. But while I had always felt that performing either dance or music was not really where I excelled, because I didn't feel I was really expressing anything to the audience, and while I never felt that my visual art was ever quite what I had intended in my mind, I discovered that in speaking another language, I could finally make myself understood to other people. My being able to learn languages well seems the same in my mind to the satisfaction I would have felt had I actually been a convincing dancer. I use languages based on linguistic apparati, while truly gifted dancers use language that is based in the movements of their entire bodies. But we are all communicating.

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