Hello readers and fellow lovers of writing and language,
I was just musing today about how family just might be the place where creative invention in language is most bountiful, secret, and loving. Living in a special unit, a community separate from the world in some senses, a family group must often modify the common conventions of language. These modifications occur to express affection, to give personal meaning to events understood only by family members, and exist as an expression of personal freedom and playfulness. Because our first environment is a closed unit, and a child’s personal experiences are usually limited to exposure to family and a few chosen people, these experiences of language make a strong impression on our minds and our brains.
I know that with my son, we can trust each other to allow ourselves to be more free with one another than in the presence of anyone else. This trust is, in some respects a pact: if I reveal our “secrets” to other people, he feels betrayed. Our shared language is a secret code and a mark and contract of the intimacy we share. Sometimes I am tempted to share some of our secret linguistic inventions, but I always hesitate and feel guilty when I cross that line. I wonder if, when an author writes fiction, how the art of family language enters into the equation. To make a work of fiction authentic, it must incorporate aspects of personal experience. The flavor of language can be just as personal as the events recounted.
The intimacy of self can be somewhat replicated if within the family there exists true trust, love, and mutual respect. To be playful and inventive with language is a demonstration of affection for the person, for language itself, for the space between oneself and others, and for the creative process. It is healing and relieving to be in a place where we can be silly and playful, and not be judged, criticized, rejected. In short, love, family, and language are a bubbling cauldron of inspiration. At home, it feels ok to take risks with language. We all need places that are sheltered from conventionality, where freedom over-rules the pressure to conform.