MODERNITY AND IDIOMATIC EXPRESSIONS.
In my previous blog , I had discussed the the role of emotions in shaping our beliefs. I had focused on the situation wherein a novelist could have different set of beliefs than that of one of the characters of created by that novelist. In this blog , I would discuss another problem faced by novelists. It has something to do with the kind of language employed by characters having diverse background. This problem is particularly important in case where the linguistic backgrounds of a character and a novelist who created character are totally different.
In my second novel , I found this difficulty when I wanted to create a comparatively younger character. In my case , the problem is further compounded by the fact that this younger character is suspected to be a reincarnation of a character who has been described in great details in the first half of the novel. Therefore , my problem is how to keep emotions unchanged during reincarnation while creating a distinctively different persona. My initial idea was to use different idiomatic English to highlight these different incarnations. That is when I realised how deeply our personae and our expressions are connected to one another. Therefore , in this blog , I would discuss the relationship between the language and characterization. The focus would be on the changing idiomatic expressions with increasing modernity.
In my first novel , I was more concerned about the distortion that our emotions cause in our understanding of the reality. In my second novel , the focus is on the characters as personifications of complex emotions. Therefore , the details of the characters in my second novel assume more significance. For a novelist , the challenge lies in creating characters whose behaviours are reflection on the emotions embedded in them. In addition , each character would have an identifiable manner of expressions that would be in harmony with her/his emotions, social background and the time in which that character is supposed to have existed. In this case , I was trying to create a younger character with the behaviour patterns and the idiomatic language that reflected the generation which went to college in last fifteen years. I realised that my own background could hardly provide any help. I had to , therefore , fall back to my own interactions with younger individuals , both within the family and within my social circle.
When I did that , I realized that I was using their facial expressions , hand gestures to understand what these individuals meant. Moreover , there usage of English was markedly different than the one I am comfortable with. Of course , I don’t speak as formally as I write. Still , I tend to use language with high vocabulary. I also tend speak complete sentences. This is totally missing from the younger individuals with whom I normally interact. These individuals use half sentences, phrases and very often , monosyllabic grunts to convey their views. I am not trying to look down upon their linguistic skills. On the contrary , they are very effective in communicating what they wish to. My problem , as a novelist , is how does one portray such communication skills in the novel.
My next strategy was to pick up idioms so popular with the youngsters and see whether that would help me to create a convincing characterization. While creating the earlier avatar of the character suspected to have been reborn , I had used one such idiom ‘ spot on ‘. It was used to imply that that person was absolutely right. I believe nobody uses that idiom anymore. In fact , there are large number of idioms and phrases which were in vogue earlier and we don’t hear them these days. This is , in some sense , inevitable and even desirable. Our languages have resilience and flexibility to transform with changing times. However , a novelist is required to capture these nuances as she /he is duty bound to capture the social context in which the characters of her /his novel.
Returning to my second novel , I have tried to use the idiomatic expressions of a girl who had graduated in the times of Internet. I have sought to employ different colloquial language for this girl. For instance , that character , in her earlier avatar , would speak rather bookish English. This is because she was studied in a vernacular medium school. The same character , in her later avatar , is shown to be a convent educated. Therefore , her expressions are essentially half completed sentences or phrases and even monosyllabic expressions. Surprisingly , the situation is reversed when it comes to written English.That girl , in her earlier avatar , would end up writing improper syntax. The same character , in her later avatar , would write flawless text. This is because the students from the vernacular medium pick up spoken language but rarely write the same. Therefore their spoken language is as formal as spoken by their parents who have studied Victorian English taught a generation earlier. The character , her later avatar, has studied in a convent school . Therefore , she writes proper text , but speaks contemporary college lingo.
I found it challenging to use two idioms while expressing same emotions. The readers , hopefully , would notice it. In my next blog , I would discuss how the pace of life has changed during a single generation. The protagonist describes his past in slow paced narrative. However , the pace of narration picks up after the character supposed to have been reborn enters his life. I would describe how the narrative changes from one generation to the next.