language

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Imagine a piano keyboard, eighty-eight keys, only eighty-eight and yet, and yet, new tunes, melodies, harmonies are being composed upon hundreds of keyboards every day in Dorset alone. Our language, Tiger, our language, hundreds of thousands of available words, frillions of possible legitimate new ideas, so that I can say this sentence and be confident it has never been uttered before in the history of human communication: “Hold the newsreader’s nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers.” One sentence, common words, but never before placed in that order. And yet, oh and yet, all of us spend our days saying the same things to each other, time after weary time, living by clichaic, learned response: “I love you”, “Don’t go in there”, “You have no right to say that”, “shut up”, “I’m hungry”, “that hurt”, “why should I?”, “it’s not my fault”, “help”, “Marjorie is dead”. You see? That surely is a thought to take out for a cream tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

So to you language is more than just a means of communication?

Er, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is. Language is a mistress, a wife, a pen- friend, a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen- up wipette. Language is the breath of God, the dew on a fresh apple, it’s the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning sun when you pull from an old bookshelf a forgotten volume of erotic diaries; language is the faint scent of urine on a pair of boxer shorts, it’s a half-remembered childhood birthday party, a creak on the stair, a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, the warm wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl, cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.

From the show “a bit of Fry and Laurie”

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