Tuesday, 4 August 2009

I discovered a new (to me) language yesterday

and breathed a sigh of relief when we all decided that it would be possible to work through an interpreter instead. One of the doctors I work with from time to time is going to do some surgery on a five month old baby who comes from a remote region of a remote country. It is the parents who need reassurance, not the baby. The baby does not know - yet.
As I did not have to struggle with this I spent some time on the other 'technical' writing I am struggling with at present - the guidelines for knitters who want to enter items into the Royal Agricultural and Society Show, the Quilt and Craft Fair, or the Biennial Exhibition - and for the judges. I think I could do without this. It needs to be written in a rare dialect.
I was given the basic materials. One was a list from the Victorian Handknitters' Guild, now rather outdated. The other was a list, equally outdated, from the South Australian Handknitters' Guild. For the knitters I put the two together and rewrote the lot into Plain English. I hope it is Plain English. That was the easy part.
It is much more difficult to write something for the judges. My language must not and cannot be dictatorial. The judges will take offence. The judges have, after all, been doing this job for years. They know ALL about it. My job is to try and provide the sort of guidelines which will lead to some sort of consistency - and perhaps an awareness that knitting fashion has changed in the past umpteen years since they began their self-imposed task. It all needs to be written in a very rare dialect indeed. It is good discipline. I would rather write fiction. That's a different sort of discipline.
I need to get this done rapidly because there is also the display to consider. We have to put up some sort of display at the RAHS Show and at the Quilt and Craft Fair. Both places will have much the same thing because it is the International Year of Natural Fibres. I have information about (some of) the various animals and plants that provide fibre - everything from sheep and goat to bison and yak, from cotton and flax to banana and seashell. I have someone else, hopefully, hunting for the relevant illustrations and yarn. We will not use it all. There is too much. All we want to do is capture the attention of passers by at these events and make them think.
Perhaps I should just lasso the judges and the passers by instead? It would be easier.


Rachel Fenton said...

Hats off to you - I couldn't do anything like 'technical' language, not without it steadily turning to sillyness. I wonder how many languages there are....? I struggle to grasp English some days, cannot imagine trying to write factual sense!

catdownunder said...

Thankyou. I do wonder about my sanity - frequently.
Nobody knows how many languages there are. Part of the problem is that we cannot even be sure what a language is!
My technique tends to be simple (far too simple I suspect). I keep the sentences as short as possible - and the overall thing as short as possible.
Now, nobody would ever know that from the way I burble on here - or from the way I leave cat hair everywhere else!