Studying Linguistics: a call for silence.

First of all, please excuse this confused, lenghty post: I had what I thought to be a great idea, and then it got all blurry… It’s late and I’m tired, but anyway, here are a few thoughts on language and writing.

I don’t know if this is because this year comes to an end, because I just handed over my Master’s thesis, or just because I am really tired, but I really feel like making a vow of silence. Well, maybe not… Let’s say not having to talk for a while – or think, if that’s possible! Anyway, now is not the time, as I still have to help all my students finish their school year successfully, to take my last exam and present my year-long work, and to keep on working on the project. And finally, let’s enunciate the biggest paradox here: I am actually writing about not talking… Still a long way before this happens!

So, I’ll try to explain to you what I have in mind here, and how this is linked to the fact that I study Linguistics (and also why it has its place on this blog too, in a way). This year, I started to do two things: writing a blog and giving private lessons on a regular basis (it’s not the first time I do that, but it’s the first time I have 5 students, in French, English and Latin, 12h/week).

Let’s start with the writing part. I have never really written anything before last year, except school stuff. It doesn’t come naturally, thus it takes me hours to get a piece done. I guess this is because I spend a long time trying to find the right word, to express the more precisely I can what I want to say. And this hit me while I was working on my thesis (it’s the second one I have to do, but the context was different last year). I am studying and writing about the linguistics of the Latin language. I have to be precise if I want to get it right. The subject in itself needs you to be. And then I encounter some evident difficulties: first, we study a language that is not spoken anymore, we don’t have that much written documentation (yes, there’s never enough Cicero or Plautus), and on the other side, the ones who study Latin linguistics (as in many other fields) don’t necessarily agree. And this does not help. It’s not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong, it’s good to see various theories about the archaic passive infinitive, but it shows us that we can’t be sure of everything. So, I struggled to write these 185 pages, because I can’t stand to say something inaccurate. And now that this is done, I know I cannot stop writing. Not for college anymore, no, but for this blog, for our project. And even though I feel kind of weary right now, I am glad to do this! As for the talking part, I discovered that teaching is exhausting! Trying to explain, to formulate, and reformulate, to find examples, to encourage, to ask the right questions, it’s hard. And I only have one student at a time, I can only imagine what it is to be in front of a class – well, we will know that June 5th! And when I come back from a lesson, I just don’t want to talk anymore. It’s like I have nothing more to say.


However, after all these rambling considerations about how much I want to shut up, you have to know that this is why I want to make this project work. It is not only about the stories, the myths and legends, it is about my will to revive them. I want to tell and listen to stories for the pleasure of telling and listening to them; to see children expressing themselves through them, in many different languages; to see if we may find some common ground between myths from all around the world; finally, to never stop talking and thinking.

As Andrew said, “Stories are not made just to be talked about; they are first and foremost meant to be told”. I guess you’ll have to deal with me talking and writing for a while!

Fun fact: For some reason, it didn’t even occur to me to write this post in French.


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