Words, Words, WordsbyThomas DrablÃ©zien©
I have a passion for the English language bordering on the obsessive, I have to own up to that from the start.
I do not have the benefit of a good education. I suffer from dyslexia, a condition not recognised at the time when I was growing up so my lack of scholastic achievement was attributed to slowness, stupidity or downright laziness. An opinion and attitude for which I still bear the emotional scars today. I still have an abiding fear of starting things caused by the certain but irrational knowledge that I will screw up, or that they will either literally or metaphorically blow up in my face.
My school experience also left me with a loathing of reading and literature. I had learned, from the method in which I was taught English, literature was something to be studied, dissected and analysed rather than something to be enjoyed for its own sake. It took me several years before I could pick up a book for the pure pleasure of reading. The book that first opened my eyes to the sheer joy that can be derived from words on the printed page was JRR Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings.' A book, or series of books should I say, I have the hardback version, I have treasured, read, and reread many times. Even now, more than thirty years later, I still count 'The Lord of the Rings' among my all-time favourites, and every time that I have read that book I have found something new or different buried within late Professor Tolkien's luxurious prose.
The spoken word delights my ear as much as the written delights my eye. I am a great lover of theatre, but unfortunately, because of having worked in that business for many years, I am too easily distracted by the technicalities of the art to fully enjoy the performance when I attend a play.
Oh, it brings me such pain to hear my Mother Tongue mangled by poorly pronounced, slovenly speech. I was taught to: 'Speak up, speak out and speak properly!' So that is what I endeavour to do. I was once accused of 'talking posh,' but to my own ears, listening to recordings, my speech sounds rather uncultured; nothing like the clipped tones of the Queen's English. It saddens me that so many people treat spoken English with so little respect and that little effort these days is put into the teaching, regional accents or dialect words aside, of correct and clear pronunciation.
British English, to be specific, is my Mother Tongue but this is not going to be a diatribe of condemnation upon those who speak or write in a different flavour of that language than my own. The full round rich tones of the Jamaican voice, full of rum, sugar cane and sunshine; the 'West Country' twang of the Bajan accent, even the earthy speech of the Australian outback are all delights to my ears. Some accents I do find less pleasing to the ear: The 'Black Country' whine, the aggressive speech patterns of the American 'Red Necks' or the voice of white South Africa for example. This is not to say that these modes of speech, that grate upon my ear, are not valid within the full spectrum of spoken English; a language that spans the globe like no other. Although there are many varieties of 'Pidgin English', spoken by those for whom English is not their first language, of English as a first language it is American English, more specifically USA English, which has diversified furthest from its British roots. There are, of course, many factors that have influenced the different developments of modern British and US English. Not least of which was the deliberate and aggressive de-Anglicisation of American English spelling that happened relatively soon after the USA became a nation state rather than just another British colony. Others, more scholarly than I, have discussed, elsewhere and at length, the separation of these two branches of the English language and I believe it is a subject too broad to be within the scope of this short essay. I shall leave it then with just two brief remarks:
First, as I have commented elsewhere, I have long desired to hear the words of Shakespeare spoken in a strong New England accent as I believe that that rendition of his words might be closer to that which the Bard himself would have heard as opposed to the voices of modern British theatre.
And second, in much the same way as hundreds of years ago British sailors and Merchant Ventures first spread the English language across the globe, the USA through its vast commercial and military influence, is now spreading its own version of English around the world. This new linguistic imperialism is changing, slowly but surely, the way that millions of English first and second language speakers express themselves in words. My passion for my native English was further inflamed when I removed from the land of my birth to settle in France, where it became an urgent and important task to properly learn the language of my adopted country. The learning is hard for me, one day I hope that I shall be able to speak enough French to be able to hold a reasonable conversation but I fear that true fluency in French is something that will ever evade me.
I never formally learnt grammar as a child, all the different constructions and usages where learned naturally through hearing and repetition. So learning the formalities of French grammar posed and answered many questions. Just one example, I discovered the striking similarity between the American 'When I would..." past tense construction, (Something that does not exist in British English) with the French past subjunctive tense. I further learnt that a huge amount of English words, some sixty percent, come directly, and many with the same spelling, from French. This dates back to 1066 when Anglo-Saxon England became a French colony under the Duke of Normandy; he who is known as Guillaume Bâtard (William the Bastard) to French historians and William the Conquer to the English. At that time in England French became the language of the Court and the gentry. Over time the courtly French became amalgamated with commoners Anglo-Saxon and transmuted what we now know as modern English. Still today 'Anglo-Saxon' is used to denote coarse speech, although 'Pardon my French' is a reference back to the long animosity held between the French and British nations. Indeed there are many expressions in French and English that mirror each other. A condom for example in English it may be called a 'French letter,' in France they call it 'Un capote anglaise' - An English cap. This is also an example of where changing the gender of a word in French may totally change its meaning 'Une capote' is the bonnet (hood) of a car. So many pitfalls to be navigated when learning a new language! French, unlike English is a very gender oriented language, with gender being at the very foundation and core of its grammatical rules. Which prompts me to cry:
Oh how I lament the loss of so many of the gender specific, feminisations and other useful words that have been banished from our everyday vocabulary. Stolen, nay wrenched from us by the Thought Police of Political Correctness. These linguistic vandals and philistines who appear to want to homogenise all of mankind (I use the word 'Mankind' correctly, proudly and with no gender bias intended!) into one uniform grey mass. Diversity is the greatest joy and asset of the human species. Each one of us regardless of race, colour, creed, culture or gender is unique, individual and different, how dare anyone have the unabashed arrogance to try to steal that away from us. Oh how passionately I loath and detest these interfering busybodies, these self-appointed 'Guardians of Public Morals' who seek to find offence in every word, or gesture, no matter how innocently intended and regardless of whether the perceived 'victim' has himself taken offence. Vive la différence! I cry. Let us celebrate the differences that exist between us not seek to eradicate them.
Phew! Rant over. And I feel much better for getting that off my chest.
However, I find that I have digressed, allowed myself to be sidetracked by my own passions and let what was intended as a few introductory remarks grow beyond its proposed length. No matter, let it stand. Now I shall return to the thought that was in my mind when I sat down to start writing this piece.
Writing erotic fiction is not as easy as many might think. Simple, one might say, think of a fantasy, write a few brief descriptive paragraphs of hot and steamy sexual coupling intended to fire the loins of the reader, and that will be enough. Indeed many examples of that style of writing exist on this very website, some exceedingly well written but many less so. 'Strokers' is the appellation, I understand, that is often applied to such stories. This style of writing is exactly what many readers seek if one is to judge by the wealth of such stories that may readily be found. However other readers have more sophisticated tastes. These readers also wish to know who are these people, where are they, what are their feelings and how did they come to be in the situation in which we find them? These readers want a fuller story, albeit one with added spice, rather than just a masturbatory fantasy, it is within this group that I mostly count myself.
Every trade or craft has its tools and it is in the choice and application of those tools, which often differentiates between the good craftsman and the bad. As it is with the author, his tools are words and the choice of words he makes can make all the difference to a story. A poor plot can be turned into a thing of beauty by the right presentation and use of vocabulary. Conversely, even the very best plot can be ruined by poor writing. The length of a story neither should be used as the sole criterion for the judgement of its quality. Some writers have the skill to write concise yet flowing prose that leaves the reader satisfied but wanting more. Other writers need more space, and there are those who drone on and on leaving the reader to wonder 'when is this story going to get to the point.' I have speculated from time to time whether certain mainstream popular authors are paid not by the word but by the ton, if one is to judge by the sheer weight of the tomes that they produce. Not withstanding the huge breadth of human imagination and variations of the sexual orientation of the participants, there are only a limited number of ways that sexual coupling can take place. Likewise the locations and situations in which the said coupling can be performed is a finite number. Further the laws of probability dictate that any number of, if not all, permutations have already been described by someone else. It behoves then the conscientious author to use the full compass of the available descriptive vocabulary at his disposal to better engage the reader...
A quick aside at this point to reinforce that I use 'he,' 'him' or 'his' in this context to encompass all. It goes against the rules of good English and my anti-political-correctness principles to constantly use 'he/she,' 'his/her' or the plurals 'them' or 'their' outside their correct application. Besides the use of such non-gender-specific devices, simply to assuage the misguided sensibilities of the politically correct, makes the text look ugly. ...I admit that there are some readers who are quite content to be presented with the same limited vocabulary again and again. But I ask you, is this a reason to 'dumb down' so much, these days, is reduced to the level of the lowest common denominator. Synonyms are there in abundance let us use them and not let them whither and die.
And finally, a quick delve into the erotic writer's 'tool box'. Some musings on the sexual vocabulary, a few words and phrases both in common use and others more obscure. Not an exhaustive list by any means just a random selection that comes readily to my mind.
Of her bits:
Breasts, tits, boobs, jugs, hangers (derogatory), knockers, bosoms, mammaries. Threepenny bits and bristols (From 'Bristol cities' = titties), both Cockney Rhyming Slang. 'Her firm, round feminine flesh...'
Vagina, cunt - Both this and its diminutive 'cunny' do not rank among my favourite words but they have their place. Interestingly the French 'con' is considered a much weaker expletive than its English translation.- Pussy, slit, gash, fanny (UK), yoni (India), twat or twot. - I suspect that the mild admonishment 'twit' comes from these - And a couple of my favourites that have sadly fallen from general use: Minge and quim. Try saying 'quivering quim' out loud, it feels good in the mouth. Womanhood, 'the core of her sex,' 'her box of delights...'
Bottom, arse or ass, bum, seat, behind, posterior, rear end, rump... 'He he grasped the fleshy globes of her rump with his strong hands...'
Of his bits:
Penis, manhood, cock - I love the fact that in American English the word 'cockerel' was replaced by 'rooster' because the former was deemed to be offensive to the delicate sensitivities of the ladies. - Dick, todger, tonker, tool, weapon, wanger, lingam (India), rod, staff, sceptre... The list goes on and on!
Kissing, licking, caressing, stroking, fondling... 'With gentle yet insistent stokes of his tongue he enticed her sleepy nipples to firm peaks. Then locking his lips about one of these hard and swollen nubs he suckled like a baby raising the state of her arousal to new heights..."
Cunnilingus ('Cunning linguistics' if you want to pun!), lapping her pussy, 'his tongue explored her most intimate flesh...'
Fellatio, blow-job, suck-off, playing the pink oboe. 'She knelt before him and worshipped his proud manhood with her tongue...'
Of the act itself:
Fuck / Fucking, good old Anglo-Saxon but too readily used as general expletives. In the same vein, screw, shag, rodger, tup, couple, copulate, 'plough her furrow', 'thrusting his throbbing rod into her sopping cunt...' These are all useful, but hardly appropriate for the more romantic setting. How much better does:
"Darling, let us make love, let our two bodies merge into one," sound than the terse and aggressive:
"Hey bitch, let's fuck!"
And we must not forget the 'beast with two backs!'
In conclusion, erotic story telling need not always be direct, it can be obscure, circumlocutory and still no less arousing. Imagine the word pictures that can be painted when a full palette is used.