August 22nd, 2008

ozarque figure

About that new Láadan grammar....

There are an assortment of different genres of traditional teaching grammars for foreign languages. There's the one that's strictly for tourists; it has a lesson about finding the bathroom, a lesson about buying a ticket, a lesson about going to a restaurant -- that kind of thing. There's the one that's mostly scripts -- it has a lesson where two people greet one another, a lesson where two people tell one another goodbye, a lesson where one person orders a meal and another takes the order, a lesson where one person asks another how to say something and the other person answers the question, and so on. There's the one that has a Nuclear Family as its cast of characters and takes them through their daily lives -- it has a lesson with the NF at breakfast, a lesson with the NF at dinner, a lesson with the NF going to the mall, a lesson with the NF celebrating a birthday, and so on. There's the one that describes the world -- it has a lesson about a country, and a lesson about weather, and a lesson about transportation, and so on. And there are more. Choosing your genre from this assortment is critical, the way choosing your genre for a novel is critical, because the choice immediately dumps a bunch of rules and constraints and tropes and stuff on you.

I've been trying to pick a genre for the new Láadan grammar I need to write, because if I had that done I'd be able to work on it in odd moments. What I'd really like to do, if I had unlimited free time, is set it in my fictional cyberdragon universe ... but that would be a monumental project and I have absolutely no business doing anything of the kind. I have sense enough not to do that; heck, if I had that much free time available I'd just write a novel about that universe and be done with it.

On the other hand, it seems to me that it might be possible for me to write it with a family of dragons -- extended, not nuclear -- as its cast of characters, instead of a family of human beings. [The Láadan word for "dragon" is óowamid -- literally "fire-creature." (The shiniest thing about doing a teaching grammar for a language you've constructed your own self is that you get to decide things like that.)]

On the other other hand, maybe that would be silly self-indulgence. Maybe I should remember that the goal is a traditional teaching grammar. Maybe I should stick to lessons and dialogues with Dick and Jane and Spot and Puff and Mother and Father.

If you have any advice for me on this matter that could help me make this decision, I'd be very interested.
ozarque figure

Personal note: Stupidity Galore!

You would not believe what I have done in the past half hour. I have...

...heard from my editor at Barnes & Noble, saying it's time to send the final manuscript [less the index and the acknowledgments].

...panicked! Because I am never ready to let a manuscript out of my hands, and never willing to agree that it is actually done.

...realized that I had to give up the manuscript anyway, even if I think it still needs another ninety-nine drafts, and panicked some more.

...translated what I thought was the final manuscript into the right file format for my editor, and sent it off into cyberspace.

...discovered that what I had actually sent wasn't the final manuscript at all, but some unidentifiable earlier draft.

...panicked again, more dramatically.

...sent off a desperate e-mail asking my editor to please ignore what I'd just sent her, because it wasn't what it was supposed to be, and saying that the right item would follow immediately, God willing.

...translated what I think was the final manuscript [Please, Providence!] into the right format for my editor, and sent it off into cyberspace.

...sent an e-mail trying to explain how I could do something so unspeakably stupid.

...rejoiced over an e-mail from my editor saying not to worry, she has the right file now and that's what matters.


If I were younger, I would be banging my head on my desk. Because I'm not, I don't think I'll risk it. I might rearrange my neurons so drastically that I wouldn't ever be able to get them back in order again.

Cottonpick. Sheesh, even.