I have few accomplishments to recommend me; I cannot draw, my recitals on the pianoforte are clumsy at best and I have neither a talent for embroidery nor the gift of graceful movement. The one area in which, after much searching, I have found myself to excel is in the ability to produce plausible-sounding Gibberish at will.
Though it is far from my best, you may have a listen here.
I have found that the children I babysit for nextdoor can speak Gibberish fluently but that older, more refined people sometimes struggle with the language. My Long-Suffering-Boyfriend (LSB) for example, speaks only pidgeon Gibberish, but enough to get by in most situations. I can only aspire to match some day the eloquence of Charlie Chaplin, the world’s only native speaker of Gibberish as he introduced the world to Sauerkraut.
I think my good friend Stephen Pinker would have a lot to say about Gibberish. He mentions Lewis Carroll’s 1872 nonsense poem The Jabberwocky in his book The Language Instinct as appealing to our hard-wired knowledge of and acquired predictions about language. If he were to condescend to read my blog and then stoop even lower to follow its links, I imagine he would point to the patterns of intonation in my speech as consisting of a mad mishmash of the grammatical structures of the languages I have been exposed to and that he would herald subtleties in prosody as indicative of uniformity in the portrayal of emotion through language.
I believe that my penchant for Gibberish is also connected to my tendency toward deceit. Let me explain. In order to compensate for my shockingly limited general knowledge, I periodically fabricate bizarre facts and relate them to my nearest and dearest. Once, for instance, on a rather dull bus journey from York to London, I turned suddenly to my LSB and said, “Did you know that T.S.Eliot was the first known poet to use the word peanuts in a poem?” A look of intelligent surprise crept over his face. I knew he would remember it for life.
“Really?”, he asked rhetorically.
“No”, I said, “I just made it up”. He looked at me, searchingly.
On another occasion, I broke a comfortable silence with the slow, dramatic outburst: “On gelded wheatgrass glides the linnet’s wing”.
“What’s that?”, he asked.
“Oh, just Milton”, I said with the nonchalance of a pouting fish.
Since I always confess my wrongdoing within seconds of a Gibberishish utterance, I rarely suffer the consequences of my perjury. Having pondered the matter privately at length however, I have come to the conclusion that at the root of my silly amusement lies my inability to see the trees for the wood.
You see, as I’ve mentioned before, I like to take a fly’s eye of the world. I find pleasure in understanding how people work, how language works, how the brain wires itself. My ineptitude resides in my lack of interest in the details; I am perfectly content to marvel at brain plasticity, but I’d be damned if I memorise the precise nature of the neurotransmissions that allow me to type this prepostrous post at four in the morning.
I may never be afforded the opportunity to advertise my unconventional charms to Mr Darcy, as Lizzy Bennett was, but were the opportunity to arise, I would do my very best to present my bad habit as an … impediment.