Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Language of Inflection

I've been hearing an argument from around the corner for the past half hour.1 (Mighty early for so much dander to be up.) The argument is in Spanish. I don't speak Spanish and I have no idea what the argument is about. But I have a very clear idea how it's going: who is mad, how mad they are, who is stepping up, who is backing down, the overall ebb and flow of the debate. It's funny how much of spoken language is contained not in the words themselves but in their inflection, in their tone and speed, in the overall "music" of the words. Hmm…

1 Entirely tangentially, as I sit hear, overhearing this early morning melodrama, I'm being bitten by a mosquito. January 12. Mosquito. Ridiculous. (Update: I just smacked the sucker — oh hey, that's a pun! — leaving a splat of my own blood on my wrist.)

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