Of all the geeky heroes I’ve got to talk about, I’m guessing not many would expect me to think Stephen Fry is an odd choice for some. But for me, he’s not.
For a start, he’s open and honest about mental health, without ever (that I’ve seen) using it as an excuse for missteps. He’s as authentic to himself as he can be, and that’s hard for people even without the added stigma of having mental health problems.
Most of all though, he’s as interested in everything. Literally. Everything.
The man seems to be into everything that I am. From language and arts, to general knowledge, magic. The works.
Mostly though, he’s intelligent, witty and talks. And honestly, since watching a lot of the things he’s done, I think this sums it up the best.
My language (as the sum of my discourses, as linguistic strata that betray my history, as geology or archaeology betrays history) is my language and it is a piece of who I am, perhaps even the defining piece.
Language as geekery
One of the major elements I think many people have talked to me about when I discuss my love of language and what makes it so important to me, is a whole part of who I am too. Odd as it sounds, I’ve got this ‘corpus’ – my specific language, including the definitions and associations tied to them that makes me…well…me. You have one too, dear reader. No really.
And this is the fun bit. You can create whole characters out of it, from that next gaming character, that next novel build, the next comparing of notes about the series we enjoy. The information that we pull from our reading, or viewing…all of it. Language – our understanding of all of it – shapes it all, always. And that’s why, at the core of fandom, language is key.
WHY language is geekery, and why Stephen Fry is the reason I think of it
Language is important – we use it for everything. From telling people the best of news, to the worst. And, everything and all things in between. It’s literally what people know of us too – if you get the chance to hear someone talk, you make a decision about them.
We do many things that let people know who we are – but our language delineates quicker than anything else. And it’s important for our media – from the arguments of dumbing down language, to creating languages like The Expanse (Belter language is a patois of a mix of things – Belter Creole or Belta is explained best here). The examples are myriad. J.R.R Tolkien invented languages for his books.
What that means for These Our Fandoms
Linguistics is – as my writing partner knows – one of the most important things in my life. Beyond my family and immediate friends, my religious leanings and language are the cores of my being. The reason for that is a bit more complex than even I’ve grown to understand lately. I talk a little bit about it on my mental blog, but linguistics isn’t just an element of my mental health – it’s an element of my very being. My first thought every day is the last word I learned the night before – and then, how I teach it to my family and friends. I’ve got this whole pattern of learning that teaches me a new thing, just by considering it in terms of language – because, at it’s core, everything – maths, music, communication of all kinds – is language. Behaviour is language. I understand things better when I consider them in terms of language and it makes me happier to consider it that way, in some ways.
Silly as it seems, language is important to me. So, when I settle, I’ll be talking a little more, just a bit, about language, and the language choices – maybe in books, maybe in the shows. And later in the month, about the fact that we’ve had F-Bombs in a universe that, traditionally, didn’t have them (P is for Picard).
So…that’s why today is about Fry. Because one of the first things I learned from Stephen Fry was that language wasn’t just the mechanics of interaction – it was the poetry, and the joy, and the freedom too.
Thank you Mr Fry. For the continued gift of being good with language, and showing there’s no harm in it to boot.