For my first book, I decided to do something interesting.
I chose to struggle with literacy.
I’ve been reading all of my life so that doesn’t happen that often anymore. But these last few days – it’s been a real struggle.
I’m learning Polish at the moment. What better way then to read Harry Potter?
For my first book of December I read “Harry Potter i Komnata Tajemnic.”
That’s “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” for you none Polish people out there. I flipped open the book and followed along with an audio recording.
My Polish is at an elementary level. So this was true drowning. But interesting things happened. The pages flew by and as I progressed the strange and wonderful letter combinations of Polish started to look familiar to me. It didn’t give me such a strange headache.
And I could correspond the words I heard in my ears with the words on the pages. It wasn’t one long ocean blur of sound. Discrete parts existed like wondrous grains of sand to hold and fathom. I stood on a beach with no meaning, but I could take apart that beach and see how it was put together.
I think reading “Harry Potter i Komnata Tajemnic” is a throwback to the earliest days of my reading journey. I sat in my dad’s lap and he read to me. I looked at the words on the page and I listened to my dad’s voice. Some things I understood. Other things were beyond my grasp. But I was forming connections in my head. And felt this pull into language.
That’s what I did here.
I trained my eyes to move across the page at the speed of the reader. I guessed at the emotions of the character and emotional arc of the story based on how the reader was speaking.
This is a start.
I read that Pope John Paul II read the newspaper in 6 or 7 languages everyday in the morning. What empathy might that bring? What limber mind resulted from that daily routine?
Yes! The intellectual puzzles we all enjoy as readers – learning new words.
For me, this has always been a joy. New words have always provided me with freedom. The freedom to be astute.
Reading the Harry Potter series when I was younger is one of my fondest memories. I remember the sun’s light stretching across my bed. I lay there with my book and my other book – the dictionary.
If I didn’t understand a word for sure, I’d look it up. I’d write down the word and the definition on a piece of paper. If I didn’t know the meaning of the word that was defining the word I was looking up, I’d look up that word too. I’d write it down along with the definition.
And down the rabbit hole I went.
I may get lost in words, but I’m never lost for words.
Nothing is beyond relating.
All that is fantastic and subtle can glimmer is soft indirect light or be exposed naked in the spotlight.
And that’s where the fun of language comes in.
The game of language is to frame.
You read body language and you understand what a person is telling you.
You listen to the sound of a person’s voice and you understand how they are feeling.
Words are that extra little bit of meaning.
So what’s the point?
Well! Doesn’t a peacock’s tail feathers impress you?
How about a baboon red butt?
Or the medals and honors pinned do the chest of a distinguished military office?
I bet the crown of a king or queen would catch your eye.
Adornment is a nice way to excite the room. To compel your audience.
Look at the sparkle. The extra bit of flourish.
Language is not the primal source. It’s not the water. It’s not the soul inside of you. But it’s a bucket that can catch at that water with excitement.
Does your bucket have holes? Or is it a nice bucket?
Is your bucket as red as a baboon’s butt?
Do people comment on how red your bucket it and how well you swing it?
If the answers yes, you’ve probably read a few books. And taken the time to get comfortable with the words you use and what the mean.
What is your language doing for you?