Dec 2, 2009
Today I read an interesting perspective on Dutch language, particularly the rather unique ‘ij’ sound in that language. But more than that, it’s a poetic take on the way language seems to feel. (via Snarkmarket)
“There’s something slightly disturbing about the visual scan of the language (I don’t even know what the term is for that: you know when you see a page, or a sign, written in a language and you have an immediate impression of the content of the text? This works also in your native language: look at a page from, like, Dickens, and you can sort of get the Shudder of the Text, or whatever, anyway, what I mean is that some languages, like French, always seem to bear a melismatic philosophy behind the page; German, an authority, Amharic, a crooked delight…) … with Dutch what I get is a sort of childlike pornography: hoog, sneeuwt, poesje, standplaats. But I’m obsessed with it: there’s nothing better than having an old school diagraph still kicking around like an appendix.”
I like the word melismatic in this context, as though the words on the page were the notes and the meaning of the page was the word or melisma. It’s a new one on me even though I subscribe to A.Word.A.Day and occasionally test my vocabulary at FreeRice.