April 11th, 2011


A linguistic moment

So I was helping some people the other day try to pronounce a Japanese name that they'd seen written in English letters; they we trying to figure it out and applying US English pronunciation and of course knew that was wrong, but didn't know what to do. So I pronounced it correctly for them a few times, but they needed it broken down into syllables, which I did a couple of times, but their attempts to repeat back to me confused me, and someone else came up anyway, so I needed it spelt for me again.

And the new person spelt it in chunks, and it broke my brain, and the word fell out, so I asked him to repeat it, and he did the same thing, and I kept trying to make him stop, because the way he was doing it was breaking my ability to process it, somehow, and it took several tries until I could get him to stop pausing mid-word and then it stayed.

And only after I left did I figure out that what he was doing was breaking letters in half. Obviously he wasn't doing this in English - he was using whole letters - but he was in Japanese, by using English letters and pausing after consonants, in ways you just can't in Japanese. They stop being phoenic base elements, or letters at all, and become a linguistically unqualifyable element - and in my head just disappear, apparently.

It felt a lot like I was suddenly off my memory meds. The disappearance effect was strikingly similar.

This post originated on Dreamwidth journal ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん: Solarbird Makes Noises. comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.