Thoughts on Language

I’ve been pretty much preoccupied with ideas of language these days. Who speaks? Are they speaking for themselves? Are they giving voice to others?  What kind of register is used?  What is lost when a basic register meets the professional  – complete with jargon? What do you do when you lower the register as a professional? Is it patronising or is it possible to find a common ground? I feel pretty much alienated as I read job advertisements full of jargon and corporate speak. and find myself asking, ‘Yes but what does it mean? What do you do on the day to day basis?’ So lots of questions about language  but no real answers. According to the science of Facebook – my vocabulary hovers around 30k words – yeah I know, one of those random tests. I was quite pleased. But if I as a graduate feel alienated, and feel that the language is difficult, obscure and irrelevant to experience; if I feel  that I don’t know what they want when filling in a job application, how do others feel?  I explore these issues in this short piece which contains  a lot of swearing. So if you’re offended by F bombs leave the blog now.   But you, see that brought with it other questions about language. Who am I to put swear words in the mouths of teens? Who am I to write about experiences I have not had. Lots of people have asked me what happens to Amy (of Amy’s Diary).  This is the next phase which I have planned and written an opening extract.

All copyright belongs to Anne Phillips.

 

I love this bridge at night. It’s like a bridge of hope. Cars swing on and swing off sweeping the water with white and red lights. It’s even better when there’s a full moon hanging over the mountains; and the world is so still it feels like you are held in an endless silence. It’s the bridge that links: Island, mainland, water, mountains, farmland. Concrete and tar suspended in mid air on steel strings. It’s like flying. I can see the length of the coast. Some nights its windy and the rain hits side-wise. Sometimes at sunset the colours catch my breath it’s like the world is on fire. But sunrise, that’s a promise that is. A lovely fat gold ball of a promise that my day’s gonna be ok.

You alright, Amy?

Amy. Use the persons name to get them to engage. Get Lost! I shake the copper’s hand off my arm. I’m not gonna fuckin jump, ok? I’m waiting for the sun.

Amy, it’s three o clock in the morning. It’s freezing. Come on –  you’ve got to go back.

Same old, same old! and I’m dragged to the car. The PC sighs.

Amy come on. You know you always go back.

Only cause I know there’s no fuckin choice! Two of you one of me, and God knows how many fuckin caseworkers support workers care plans and bits of paper. Don’t you get it? I’m a person I got rights and feeling too. I zone out. She mutters about duty of care, local authority care… her words disappear as the cop car slides along the A55 then to the valley, up to the village,  further up the hill to the cottage they’ve rented. Well, no  care home or foster home would have me – not after that last one!

I know I smell. The copper’s hand hovered over my head  – didn’t quite touch me and in the car now, she holds her breath or breathes through her mouth. It makes me feel like scum.So what? They don’t need permission to have even an hour’s freedom. They get to eat, sleep cook shop whenever they like. They don’t get it that smells is what happens when you’ve bin sleeping rough. I stink – cooking smells, sweat smells. My clothes are covered with street dust and dotted with bird shit  – bloody seagulls at the back of the Chinese takeaway! Its nice and warm by the vent. Hell though if I’m feeling hungry!

It’s the  care workers that get me . No! Don’t get me! They’re so full of jargon: plans, justice, restorative justice, sanctions and then we get to sit down and “discuss” why I bunked off again.  They discuss. I’m “sullen and quiet –  unresponsive”. I don’t “engage”. I saw all this on a report once.You see a lot when people think you can’t read much! That’s how I knew they found me another foster home. But it was across the border, so I got desperate like! I didn’t think it was a lot of damage – I mean that’s why they have things like insurance and premiums. I was lucky that it was described as an accident. Could’ve got a criminal record. Still had to change schools though.

And, well, bunking off? They call it “absconded”. The more posh the word, the more workers, agencies, e mail, paper and phone calls  are involved. If it’s absconded then they can call the police to get me in the car to force me back –  the workers can’t touch me –  literally! It’s the only power I had and that’s why there’s two of em now!

 

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