Friday, October 29, 2010

words of the past

I was watching an old black and white movie tonight, The Earrings of Madame de.  In the movie, Madame de sells her earrings (given as a gift by her husband), because she was in financial trouble.  The husband buys them again and gives them to the mistress, Lola, who leaves for Constantinople.  Upon saying goodbye, the man tells Lola that she looks exquisite, and she replies that "a woman has a right to look exquisite when saying goodbye, maybe forever, to the man that she loves".

Oooohhh!  Do people still speak like that?  Isn't it beautifully put?  Wasn't the language of yore (is that a word in English?) so much more poetic, so much more expressive?  It makes me bat my eyelashes, just listening to the exchange of polite conversation that takes place in that train cabin between the two lovers.  Not an ounce of comparison with the "<3 u, u r gr8" of today's blackberry era.

Language is beautiful, vivid and rich, and even though I am an emigrant that only started to speak English fluently at the age of 18 (I was in ESL at the age of 17), I can still appreciate some of the depth of this language, and I can still play with words.  I know that we will never speak like the actors in this movie, that form of expression is gone, probably never to return, but we must try not to limit ourselves to the 1200 words that form the basic core vocabulary, or else our children (ahem, I meant, you know, the other people's children) will have lost out on a significant source of pleasure and richness in daily life, the ability to creatively speak and write.

1 comment:

  1. I am such a sucker for elegant words. They are not only poetic but full of respect and consideration. However, if such words are meant to hurt, I think they will do the job ten times better and I would hate to be the addressee.