Dialogue on monoglossia

Yet another exercise written for a “Creative Writing” class…assignment was to make a dialogue that started with “No, monoglossia isn’t a disease”. My immediate thought upon reading that assignment was (as is yours undoubtedly right at this very moment): “WTF is monoglossia?!”. But then I read up on it and came up with this:

“No, monoglossia isn’t a disease,” Tom was clearly in his patronising mood again.

“OK, what is it then?” Jerry prepared himself for yet another “exciting” lecture. He liked Tom alright, but sometimes Tom could become a bit too self-important.

“Well…as a matter of fact monoglossia is the opposite of heteroglossia!” Tom looked at Jerry and smirked. Now he was being funny too.

Jerry let out an annoyed groan, but to humour Tom he played along. “That’s great! Knowing what heteroglossia is would be even more helpful, thanks.”

“Well, to put it in layman’s terms,” Tom leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands together, “monoglossia is a tendency toward a so-called master language, which will be dominant in a society, while hetero…”

“Geez, who comes up with this stuff?!” Jerry was getting bored already.

“Shhh, just let me finish! So, heteroglossia is the opposite of monoglossia. It’s a tendency toward having many different dialects and such within a language,” Tom paused just long enough to catch his breath, “Now, to answer your impatient question, it was none other than Bakhtin himself that coined these terms.”

“Oh yes, Bakhtin, it’s all clear now, of course! Will you elaborate on who this Bakhtin person is, or…?”

“Not Bakhtin person, but Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin, a Soviet philosopher and literary critic. Wrote a lot on language in society and literature and the like. Maybe you should read his stuff sometime.”

“Maybe I should,” Jerry took his time to process Tom’s words of wisdom, while Tom rocked slowly back and forth in his chair, content with a successfully delivered speech.

“So, I get it, monoglossia – it’s kind of like ‘newspeak’ in Nineteen Eighty-Four, right?” Jerry felt he nailed it.

“New what now?” Tom could not have looked more perplexed if he tried.

“Newspeak? George Orwell? Nineteen Eighty Four?”

“Who is George Orwell?” Tom was still blank.

Jerry couldn’t believe it “No way, man! George Orwell! You’re pulling my leg, right?”

“I am not doing anything to any of your limbs, no. ‘George Orwell’ just doesn’t ring a bell is all” Tom got out of his chair and walked over to his book shelves, filled with scientific journals and encyclopaedias. His eyes were scanning author names for a “George Orwell”, who was nowhere to be found in this non-fiction collection.

Jerry was getting worked up now. “Man, you’ve GOT to be kidding me right now! You know of some obscure Russian dude called Babushkin, but you haven’t heard of George Orwell? That’s like fifth grade stuff, man!”

“It’s Bakhtin, not Babushkin,” Tom bounced right back into his lecture mode.

“Whatever. Maybe you should read some fiction sometime, instead of reading about it!”

Tom yawned, “Yeah, maybe. Anyways, I’ve got my dissertation to finish, so if you don’t mind let’s just call it a night”

“I wonder if that would be ‘unday’ in newspeak?” Jerry cracked himself up.


“Nevermind. Good luck on that dissertation”, Jerry took his coat, “And seriously, read Nineteen Eighty-Four one day!”


Newton’s Apple

Short sketch written for a “Creative Writing” class. The exercise was to describe in detail a historical person doing something mundane.

One summer day Sir Isaac Newton was enjoying the sun in his garden. He sat by his favourite apple tree, savouring the warm breeze upon his face. Suddenly, he heard a thump nearby and saw a round object rolling slowly toward him. Upon taking a closer look Sir Newton realised that he was looking at an apple that just fell from the apple tree above. “My oh my”, he thought, “that could have hit me on my head, it could!”

It was positively the largest apple Isaac had ever seen. One thing he loved was apples. He loved that each sort of apple would surprise him with a new sensation of taste. Isaac knew that this one would not disappoint him. He stretched his hand to reach the apple, but realised he could not do so without moving his whole body. Lazily, without getting up, he pushed himself forward until his hand could grab the fruit.

He brought the apple close to his face, and examined it meticulously. He rotated the apple very deliberately, appreciating its smooth texture pressing against his skin, and squinting to see the minute details of its surface. “It is a beauty!”, Isaac concluded. He had always been fascinated by nature and its creations. For a few short seconds Isaac contemplated not eating the apple after all, so amazed he was.

Finally, with one decisive motion Isaac brought the apple up to his mouth and let his teeth sink into it. He took a large bite out of the apple and began to chew unhurriedly. He tasted the delicious fresh pulp and let the taste linger before taking another bite. With the next bite, Sir Newton closed his eyes and his mouth shaped into a smile. He leaned back against the apple tree and proceeded to take more bites out of the juicy fruit. As the apple slowly diminished in size, Isaac’s smile grew wider. He stretched out his legs and was by now lying down, with his head firmly propped up against the tree.

Once Isaac was finished with the apple, he carefully placed what was left of the fruit by his side. He rolled his tongue inside his mouth to collect the remaining bits of his tasty treat. He let out a loud smacking sound to show his appreciation, and then slowly rose up. His legs have been failing him of late, so this action came with much effort. Pondering upon the gravity of his physical condition, Sir Isaac Newton went on about his day.

You win some…

A short sketch I’ve written as an exercise for a “Humour Writing” class.

Two things flashed through my mind as I flew three meters up in the air and then back towards the ground at twenty five kilometers per hour. One: this is going to hurt. Two: in retrospect, riding a bike at full speed through a busy intersection with seven shots of Smirnoff vodka in me had probably been a bad idea. I also conjured up a couple of swear words, but I’ll spare you those. Thanks to the Aikido classes I took back when I was seven I instinctively managed to assemble my limbs and body into some semblance of a human bowling ball, right before impact. Later on doctors would tell me that this trick saved me from quite a few extra fractures.

Upon landing and then rolling to a gradual stop I collided with the following objects, in no particular order: deflated football, fire hydrant, tricycle, Barbie doll (that one hurt more than you think), assorted GI Joe figures, deflated basketball (really, somebody should buy these guys an air pump) and a tree. I believe the tree was the last thing I hit, but don’t take my word for it since I’d passed out well before I came to a complete stop. When I opened my eyes again Mark and Johan were both standing over me with expressions of utter terror on their faces. Mark was the first to speak.

“Whoa dude, are you hurt?”, he must have suspected that I had adamantium in my bones like Wolverine if he felt the need to ask such a stupid question after having just watched me torpedo my way through solid objects. I wanted to convey to him how much of an idiot I thought he was, but all that came out was: “Urghhhhh”. The guys looked at each other and Johan began to slowly shake his head:

“I told you both – better safe than sorry!”, Johan had an annoying habit of speaking in cliches and proverbs. He had also been the only one of us three sober minded enough to have tried to discourage my stunt. As Mark was rapidly punching 1-1-2 into his mobile, Johan grabbed my head and tried to lift it up. I assume this was supposed to make me feel more comfortable. Instead, it sent a jolt of searing pain from my neck all the way down my spine. The scream that followed must have sounded so inhuman that Johan dropped my head (ouch!), jumped backwards, and let out a high-pitched shriek that triggered a chain of howls from neighbourhood dogs.

“Shit man, sorry! Sorry!”, he was turning a special shade of pale that I have never seen on another human being before. The poor guy probably thought he had single-handedly cracked every bone in my body. He looked like a kid who had just knocked over and shattered a big screen plasma TV. I cracked up, and even though every movement caused pain to random parts of my body I couldn’t stop laughing. Johan and Mark both breathed a sigh of relief – if I was laughing then I was going to be OK. A bit later we heard the siren of an approaching ambulance and Johan even forced a feeble smile:

“Well…you win some, you lose some, right?”, he said.