Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Speaking in Boat

I love speaking (or mashing) a different language, speaking Spanish, for example, forces my voice to climb octaves, demands only essential information is related, and requires imaginative connections to cover (my huge) lack of knowledge. Speaking Italian a few years ago, was even more fabulous - I've never learnt it so mashed up Spanish, French and because I was in the north I threw in whatever German came to hand for good measure. I seemed to be understood. I certainly ate, travelled, slept in guest houses. More importantly I was improvising, pulling in any reference I could hold for long enough, as I went along. And because the words became highly valuable currency, my need for expression deepened. To communicate was urgent.

I had forgotten how much learning of boat language I'd done.

This was pointed out to me over and over last weekend by the landlubbers.

It is now prefectly natural to me to have four different names for ropes (sheets, warps, lines and halyards depending what's on either end of them). Although I can obviously see the difficulty for quick translation. And certainly 'the blue one' works just as well in some cases.

But precision in language is a gift. And there's the poetry of the words, the opportunity to get your mouth around words rarely spoken. And using these words specific to the boat helps me assimilate into that world (like morphing into that cultural oddity that was Italian Sarah). It helps me to hone my thinking. I have left land and my landself behind. Function becomes evident. A rope can't just be a rope, it has to have something attached to it, or bundled within. Just as it isn't tied to any corner of a sail, but either the head, clew or tack, depending which corner. Location needs to be identified.

Because the relationship between everything is crucial. And while this is true on land, on board it is unavoidable. Back to the urgency of language, of communication. Back to the essential existence of sailing: weather, sea, mechanics. Back to us trying to ride the natural world as best we can.

1 comment:

The Bookaholic said...

Nice, nice blog...will frequent more!