Monday, 05 November 2007

The Joy of Things Half-Heard (in Hindi); or, Benny Lava's Loony Buns (If you'd rather skip the context, the hilarious video can be found below the fold.) A significant drawback of being deaf is the concentration required to carry on a conversation. (There are others.) Since I only pick up have a word here and half a word there, I must rely on my preternatural ability to reconstruct whole words from half-heard phonemes. I acquired this skill through long hours, hard work, and the normal course of cognitive development: all I'd ever heard are half-words, so my brain developed to hear half-words. So how would I know that conversing requires more concentrating for me than the hearing world? Simple: When I'm tired, stressed, or otherwise not paying close enough attention, words break down into their constitute phonemes. (Poetry often has the same effect.) These phonemes typically migrate: the first phoneme of one word because the final of another and vice versa. Consider a previous example: One day I went to meet with my advisor. He inquired into the state of my "current tree search." I stared, frozen and mute, wondering how he'd learned of my plans to purchase a potted lemon tree for the porch. "I'm thinking about lemons," I blundered. Now it was his turn to stare, bewildered by my admission that I'd been considering lemons a valid object of literary study. He asked why I'd been thinking about lemons, to which I sensibly replied "because there's not much room on the porch." "For your work?" "What?" "What?" "What are you talking about?" "What are you talking about?" "Planting a lemon tree on the back porch." "Why would I care about that?" "Then why did you ask?" "Then why did I ask what?" "About my current ..." I trailed off exactly when my mouth, prepping to repeat the absurdity, clued my brain in to the nature of the misunderstanding. Sometimes, as with the lemon tree, these migrations fold neatly into the English language. Note how my brain tried to find a suitable context for my mistake: I had been planning on purchasing a tree for the porch, so my brain thrust my advisor's statement into that context. But more often than not, I'm thrust back into language with a shock of incomprehension: "Did you just say—you didn't just say—did you? What?" Most of the time, I don't have a plausible context ready-to-hand, so my confusion results in absurd, context-less statements. I hear words, but they're not arranged into sentences. Or I hear sentences, but the sentences make no sense. I'm hard-pressed to provide examples of what this experience is like ... or was before I learned about Benny Lava's Loony Buns. The video below the fold consists of a Bollywood musical number sung in Hindi but transliterated into English. The author of the subtitles breaks the Hindi down into phonemes then reconstructs those phonemes as English words. The result? The closest approximation to the shock of incomprehension so common among the tired half-deaf:
Vote for the Boring Literary Grad Student Diarist! Chuck—resident scribe at From My Position ... On the way!—characterizes Acephalous thus: Everyday me, life as it happens... My husband and I went on our coffee date this morning about 6:00 a.m. We came home and we both did a little blogging and Mike did some chatting while I did some laundry and sat down with my cookbooks. I came up with a menu that would last us until nearly the end of the month (minus the holiday trimmings). I then sorted through our pantry and fridge to see what was there and started writing out our grocery list. For the first time ever, I took the grocery list and sorted it by aisle ... I couldn't find the post he quoted—a polite competitor would've included a link—nor do I remember a 6 a.m. coffee date with a man named Mike (or doing his laundry) (or reading his cookbooks) (or coming up with menus) (or sorting through my pantry), but I like this idea I had about sorting the grocery list by aisle. Do you know how many calories I waste traipsing back to aisles I've already covered? The last time I went to the supermarket, I double-backed to the cereal aisle no less than fifteen times. That's almost 10,000 calories I could've used folding Mike's laundry! (Why put the coffee with the cereal? Just because they're both breakfast foods? Because they're not. People drink coffee all day. I'm drinking coffee right now. I ground the beans myself this morning. They say there's no coffee like freshly ground coffee, and let me tell you: they are correct. This is the best cup of coffee I've had since yesterday afternoon, when I snuck a little Kona into my normal blend. Kona's been my favorite coffee for a long time because it reminds me of Hawaii. Not that I've been to Hawaii, but I've always dreamed of going, and I imagine when I get there it will smell like Kona. So despite the chill that settled over Southern California yesterday, I drank coffee that reminds me of what I've long thought Hawaii will smell like. It was a wonderful day.) I'm glad I had the idea to sort the grocery list by aisle. I only wish I'd remembered having that idea, that way I wouldn't have wasted all the calories I've wasted since I forgot I had it. But enough about me. Chuck asked: Wait, I am in the running with this? Am I this dull? The answer to the first question should be self-evident. As to the second: does it get any more exciting than this? I'm forced to conclude, Chuck, that you are that dull. Then there's this "Jack's Shack" Jew, who complains about how little smack talk is flying. This Jew's about as Jewish as they come. His blog roll consists entirely of Jew blogs: Israel this, Rabbi that, What-to-do-with-the-Blood-of-Christian-Children the other. (Two of the Jew's links consist solely of the name "Miriam"!) He writes exclusively about the Jews...

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