Tag Archives: Language

#atozchallenge J is for Jousting


by Lillian Csernica on April 11, 2019

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A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I worked at the first Medieval Times dinner theater in the United States. It was in Buena Park, which is famous as the home of some Hollywood-based companies. The big draw of Medieval Times is having your dinner while watching two knights on horseback engage in a jousting match with real lances.

I managed a crafts booth at the Agoura Renaissance Faire for a jeweler. My boss managed to get a spot in the Gift Shop, which was out in the small courtyard ringed by the stables. Yes, my shop was in a converted horse stall.

Oh, the stories I could tell about what went on while I worked there. The Head of Security was a fascinating fellow with a military background. Each of the knights had tales to tell. The owner was a gentleman from Spain. I loved this place for the same reason I love international airports. You just never knew who might show up from one night to the next. We had a lot of celebrities come to see the show, actors and sports stars and other Big Names.

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Working at Medieval Times did cause me cognitive dissonance as a writer. The production designer must have done some reading on what an actual joust looked like in terms of arena design, how the horses were caparisoned, and what the armor looked like, along with the lances. Other than that, historical accuracy went out the window. It was all down to whatever looked good and sold souvenirs.

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This is an occupational hazard when you write historical novels. I strive for historical accuracy, I really do. There have been times when somebody in an editorial position has pointed out to me that I occasionally get carried away with realism at the expense of story. The first time I wrote a medieval novel, that involved six different languages. Why? I had everybody speaking the language he or she would have spoken at that time:

My agent told me I’d better stick to French, Spanish, and English.

If you’d like to get a look at the jousting match, there’s one episode of Cake Boss where Buddy takes his family to Medieval Times. He made a cake for a special occasion being celebrated during the tournament, and the cake alone is impressive.

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Filed under #atozchallenge, Blog challenges, Family, Fiction, Food, historical fiction, history, Lillian Csernica, research, romance, travel, Writing

Q is for Query


by Lillian Csernica on April 20, 2016

 

I thought it might be entertaining to list some of the questions I’ve asked and been asked in my many travels hither and yon.

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Where’s your horse?  (Do people in Europe still think all Americans are cowboys?)

Do you live in a grape field?  (I didn’t know what to say to that until I realized the person asking the question meant a vineyard.)

Is this your mother?  (No, she was not my mother.)

Does your husband want to be in the picture too?  (The person with me was not my husband.  My husband wasn’t even in the same country at the time!)

 

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Where are we?

Are you sure that’s where we are?

Then why aren’t we seeing ( insert name of offramp, landmark, national monument, etc.)?

 

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Where’s the bank?  It’s inside the post office?  Where’s the post office?  (The local branch turned out to be about a mile away, on the far side of the Yokohama train station, on the third floor of an office building.  I would never have found it had it not been for the very helpful Japanese security guard who kept talking to me as if I really did understand most of what he was saying. At that time, I didn’t, but I caught enough to get me to the third floor.)

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In French:  Do you speak French?

Non.

In German: Do you speak German?

Nein.

In Nederlands: Do you speak Nederlands?

Nay.

In English: Do you Speak English?

Yes!

(I was on the train back to the Netherlands from Germany when a nice German customs official needed to know if I had anything to declare.  He was so patient with me.  It must have been obvious I was really nervous and didn’t have a clue about what I was expected to say.  I’d already been asked for my “papers” {passport} twice.)

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Filed under Blog challenges, Conventions, creativity, editing, Family, family tradition, fantasy, Fiction, frustration, Humor, Japan, Lillian Csernica, memoirs, mother, Self-image, travel, worry, Writing

W is for Whorf’s Hypothesis


English: Graphical representation of Flower & ...

English: Graphical representation of Flower & Hayes’ (1981) model of the cognitive processes involved in writing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Lillian Csernica on April 25, 2013

Taken from Wikipedia.org:

“The principle of linguistic relativity holds that the structure of a language affects the ways in which its speakers conceptualize their world, i.e. their world view, or otherwise influences their cognitive processes. Popularly known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, or Whorfianism, the principle is often defined as having two versions: (i) the strong version that language determines thought and that linguistic categories limit and determine cognitive categories and (ii) the weak version that linguistic categories and usage influence thought and certain kinds of non-linguistic behaviour.”

Creation of new languages is often found in science fiction and fantasy. Prison authorities have recently discovered that inmates have resurrected Elizabethan thieves’ cant for use as a code when arranging drug deals.  A number of studies have shown twins developing their own private language.  This phenomenon is known as cryptophasia.  Also worth noting is idioglossia, a private language developed and spoken by one individual.

Consider the possibilities of using Whorf‘s Hypothesis when creating your characters and the language(s) they speak. If language shapes thought and that thought shapes behavior, the introduction of a foreign language or loan-words could potentially alter the cognitive functioning of the indigenous population. Imagine this knowledge in the hands of a linguist who has a reason for tampering with the local population’s ideas about and behavior toward the visiting anthropologists, or perhaps one person in particular. I see the potential for all kinds of trouble, don’t you?  Trouble means conflict, and conflict means stories worth telling.

For more insight into the plot and characterization possibilities, please read  How Language Shapes Thought by Lera Boroditsky.

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Filed under Blog challenges, fantasy, Fiction, Writing