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Lakshmi Raj Sharma

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The Literary Author and Language Acquisition
By Lakshmi Raj Sharma
Last edited: Friday, July 11, 2014
Posted: Friday, July 11, 2014

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Lakshmi Raj Sharma

• The Creative Personality
• Why Older People are Weaker
• The Creative Personality
• Chiki Sarkar and the New Crop of Indian Editors
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Knowing words and their correct usage need not make us creative

 The Literary Author and Language Acquisition

One can believe that poets, or prose writers are always in possession of huge vocabularies of the language in which they write. One can also suppose that these writers are well trained in the use of the language. This could be true to an extent and may often be the case but it is not a prerequisite for the writer to always possess an enormous vocabulary or be a pundit of grammar. Learning grammar and building a rich vocabulary is often the result of hard work, social exposure and sometimes merely a determination to acquire linguistic competence. Some minds are drawn towards language instinctively or by conscious effort and these people are often very successful in life because they outtalk others with their finely polished or impressive use of words or phrases. Such people can become great scholars in the humanities and social sciences and sometimes great bureaucrats and politicians because they can express themselves impressively with words and rhetoric, sometimes just empty words. 
Language acquisition is a social matter and results from social exposure. Anyone who has been exposed to or taught language for a certain length of time will normally blossom in that direction unless they are enemies of language learning or have linguistic mental blocks. Fluency in language and good language acquisition are great factors for success in life professionally and generally but they do not promise creativity. Creativity is very often a result of running away from society and going inwards, into one’s psyche and one’s personal resources. To be in the thick of social life is to deny oneself that solitude which helps one to be in touch with the self. The literary author must depend on society to an extent but must be distant enough from society to continuously visit the self for directions to discover a voice and get a glimpse of that vision without which all writing is ordinary no matter how linguistically correct it is.
The literary author has a different kind of ingenuity in language. He can summon language to express his unique and singular experience of the world. He can invent new words and newer ways of using existing words. Language comes not socially but naturally to the literary writer. It comes from the unconscious. Language comes that way to all of us to a limited extent but in the case of a creative writer it is deeply a part of the unconscious. John Middleton Murry said that metaphor was as immediate as consciousness itself. The creative mind usually finds the right image or metaphor at the moment when a creative idea emerges from deep within through a process in which conscious effort is minimal. Keats describes this beautifully when he compares it with a new planet coming into the ken of some watcher of the skies.
Consciously learned language and words may be at times impediments to creativity. Though they may of course merge with the unconscious gradually and in time become a part of it but they will rarely become instrumental in building the voice of an author and least of all the voice of feeling. This does not mean that we should not consciously learn words or language. Of course we should because without doing that we may be at a loss professionally and socially. For creativity language slides out of dreamlike experiences, as though it was already there, readymade for the author.

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Reviewed by m j hollingshead 7/13/2014

thought provoking read, well done

Reviewed by Ronald Hull 7/12/2014
I can only speak from my point of view, but your words here makes very good sense. Especially when you state that creativity comes from being away from social interaction that tends to eliminate creativity in favor of whatever the group is into at the time.

I never consciously acquired a vocabulary and wasn't well read for and went to college. I purposely avoided the dictionary, trying hard to spell words correctly based on phonetics and other tricks like spelling conscience as the co-joining of con and science. I have acquired much of my vocabulary from reading, not from listening to others. I have often been told by my readers that they, "need a dictionary," to read my work. I find that rather strange because I try very hard to make sure that I used rather simple language and define terms that might be misunderstood.

I truly believe that a writer with a very limited vocabulary can be very successful because many readers do not have a large vocabularies and find reading those authors entertaining.


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Lakshmi Raj Sharma

Marriages are Made in India

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The Tailor's Needle

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