A to Z Challenge 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013


When it comes to L, it's obvious to me that this post has to be about language.  This is what we writers live for - our love of language and what we can do with it.  Okay, so we're storytellers and creative artists who paint with words.  But language is the core tool we utilize to get the job done.

I've always been fascinated by languages.  Ever since I was little, I've always been interested in words, languages, and morphology.  I was a Russian linguist in the military, I studied Japanese in college, and I am always thinking about words and their origins.  I find it fascinating to identify where words originated or examine the meanings behind names.  While it's not necessarily important in American culture, other cultures around the world sometimes choose a particular name because of what it means.

When I first began my Bachelor's degree, I chose an odd mix.  I was majoring in Network Administration but my minor was in Linguistics.  These may seem to be an odd pairing, but they represented two paths in my life at the time;  the former was for my professional life, the latter for my personal life.  While I have an affinity for language, I've never considered a career in that realm.

To bring this back to writing, my interest in languages often fuels research projects for my WiPs.  If I'm having difficulty figuring out a name for a character for example, I may start looking for a name that has subtle meanings about that character.  If I'm creating a fictional world with fictional people, I don't necessarily want to just make up words that sound cool.  I want there to be a reason why I am choosing to use a particular phrasing if it's something the reader isn't used to.  Profanity in fictional cultures is a prime example of this.  I don't want to just use slang from our culture to fill in the gaps.  I'd rather come up with a framework that fits the society I'm building.   In any event, language is and always will be a big part of my writing.

How important is language for your writing projects?  Do you consider the uses of language in your character's culture or background?


Anonymous said...
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susan said...

I am also intrigued by language, Eric. I wish I would have thought of linguistics as a majour when going through college. What did you get from that majour? Anything still useful in your present life?

The way that language is currently important to my is in learning Spanish. I am working especially hard on incorporating colloquialisminto my speech.

Happy A-Z writing. Can you believe we are more than half way through now?!

Julia Hones said...

I am fascinated by language. I love to learn new words every single day. I also enjoy learning the different meanings that each word has. Words are intriguing, musical and interesting. I can't get enough of them.

Eric said...

Susan - Linguistics was my minor actually, but I took classes on language origins and morphology. It was very interesting. I don't really use it in my life, other than personal interest in words. That's enough for me though. Thanks for stopping by and good luck with the second half of the challenge.

Julia - I can't agree with you more. Words and languages are so interesting.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Eric .. gosh I'd love to have your talent to learn Russian and Japanese .. the learning doesn't come easily - yet I love words .. and often if I post I add some information re derivations.

Having worked with an east european export agency (back in the cold war days) and lived in South Africa with the African languages .. I always need to know how to pronounce a name ... and ask! Having that broad knowledge helps enormously .. I haven't got as far as Asia!

Cheers Hilary