A schoolchild should be taught grammar–for the same reason that a medical student should study anatomy. Having learned about the exciting mysteries of an English sentence, the child can then go forth and speak and write any damn way he pleases.
Su idioma eran las texturas y los ecos, el color de las voces, el ritmo de los pasos.
What a gulf between impression and expression! That’s our ironic fate-to have Shakespearean feelings and (unless by some billion-to-one chance we happen to be Shakespeare) to talk about them like automobile salesmen or teen-agers or college professors. We practice alchemy in reverse-touch gold and it turns into lead; touch the pure lyrics of experience, and they turn into the verbal equivalents of tripe and hogwash.
I love the sound of words, the feel of them, the flow of them. I love the challenge of finding just that perfect combination of words to describe a curl of the lip, a tilt of the chin, a change in the atmosphere. Done well, novel-writing can combine lyricism with practicality in a way that makes one think of grand tapestries, both functional and beautiful. Fifty years from now, I imagine I’ll still be questing after just that right combination of words.
Most adults have a vocabulary of around 60,000 words, meaning that children must learn 10 to 20 words a day between the ages of eight months and 18 years. And yet the most frequent 100 words account for 60% of all conversations. The most common 4000 words account for 98% of conversation.
To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.
Learning a language is not interesting than knowing how it works.
The reading of great books has been a life-altering activity to me and, for better or worse, brought me singing and language-obsessed to that country where I make my living. Except for teaching, I’ve had no other ambition in life than to write books that mattered.
It happens all too often – people regret that their language and culture are being lost but at the same time decide not to saddle their own children with the chore of preserving them.
Know what you are talking about.