Rambling about language

I love to learn and one of the things I love to learn is other people’s obscure or idiosyncratic ways of writing. I love the kind of books that hint at something and make you try to figure out what’s happening. I love books that use grammar in an unusual but obviously intentional way, because then I get to figure out what it means. Collecting enough context to feel out what something means is fun to me, and I’m pretty good at it.

Usually I’m thinking of deliberate “writers’ choices” when I talk about this stuff, but it also applies to people importing grammar and expressions from their native language into English, and (as in the thing I’m reading right now) autistic people’s idiosyncratic ways of writing.

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When you listen to someone with a different accent, different figures of speech, from you, you are distracted from their meaning by those differences. When you listen to someone whose way of speaking is familiar, you don’t notice the non-standard things about how they speak, and their meaning comes to you seeming pure and clean, but this cleanness is not objective.

Your job when you listen to someone very unfamiliar is to learn what is their context and what is their meaning, and not let yourself be distracted, and come to hear their meaning as purely as they intend it.

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