Thursday, 30 January 2020

emilie kneifel : part three

How important is music to your poetry?

i learned to speak french phonetically, so i am always noticing inflection, sonic overlap, so-called puns (though i think there’s more to wordplay than kitsch), etc. because my brain is still attuned to their significance. i think it’s still waiting to learn something from them.

let me explain. a phoneme is the smallest perceptible unit of sound that distinguishes word A from word B in a particular language. e.g. my mom often says (and okay i also sometimes say) “hate” instead of “eight.” in english, that h sound is a phoneme — see how lil “h” changes the meaning of an entire word? — but in french it isn’t. my mom can’t really hear the difference (this is because when hearing babies acquire language, they have to begin to ignore insignificant sounds to be able to hear the juicy important ones) but, being bilingual from birth, i can. being able to notice this kind of minutiae is probably a clue as to why incremental sound is so important to me. not because i’m trying to be cutesy, but because, at the level of the word, minute sonic differences actually create entire identity shifts. just a huh! just a huh.

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