Friday, November 14, 2003

Sorry about yesterday. In retrospect I’m not sure I can expect the random ‘net surfer to share my excitement in something involving my job. But please, be happy for me: I have a job I can get childishly enthusiastic about. Having said that, although I’ve just apologised I’m going to carry on. I’ll make it brief.

So, after getting to grips with stress time (and putting everything I think of into a beat) I started thinking about... what are they called? Those... what-d’ya-ma-call-‘em... Hmm, it’s an evolutionary term that describes things that don’t necessarily offer an evolutionary advantage but have evolved anyway because they’re byproducts of other, benificial, qualities. In humans music is thought to be one such example. So I wondered: Does our ability to keep a rhythm – a key aspect of musical ability – evolve from a potential benefit in language use (language being a huge evolutionary advantage)? Pure speculation on my part and, in all likelyhood, wrong, not least because not all (many?) languages are stress time – neither Spanish nor Italian is (“..so, unlike English, you hear every word in Italian...” my boss said to me; “No I bloody don’t” I thought) for a start. It would be interesting to find out how common it is and maybe how easy or otherwise it makes language aquisition in children.

So, moving on from loose speculation about things I know very little about to... loose speculation about writing, my abilities at which I will leave to your judgement. We’re all familar with coming across sentences that don’t read very easily: we get halfway through and realise that we’ve, say, placed emphasis in the wrong place or got the clauses the wrong way round. Maybe that’s because the writer has made it difficult for the reader to stress the sentence correctly: we see a word that should have stress but are unable to place that within the beat of the other key words. Consequently we have to go back and reread – restress – the sentence.

On a related note, a common tip for good writing is to read what you’ve written out loud. I’ve spent the last three years writing voiceovers and this is something I did regularly; it’s easy to write something that you think looks good on paper only to find that the voiceover artist doesn’t find it at all natural.

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