Fun. That’s a thing. A thing that started in the 1680s as a verb, meaning to cheat or trick. “Are you having fun with me?” The word is of uncertain origin — how like fun — but Online Etymology and Google suggest that it comes from the Middle English fon, which means to be a fool. Sounds reasonable. Google is even so kind as to provide us with a usage chart:
Holy shit, we must be having so much fun these days.
All the sources say: go deep, go to fond. So I did. Ah, originally it meant to be foolish, but by 1590 had begun to mean affection for. Is this illuminating? Have we found a parallel evolution? From frippery to all in good fun? But what even is all this fun we’re having?
Let’s let Wikipedia decide. Fun is a feelings word and like cool, it’s a bit hard to define its contents — its subjective, it’s experiential, it’s “an enjoyable distraction, diverting the mind and body from any serious task or contributing an extra dimension to it. Although particularly associated with recreation and play, fun may be encountered during work, social functions, and even seemingly mundane activities of daily living” Oof. Was that fun? That definitely wasn’t fun. (There’s just something to desert dry Wikipedia definitions, isn’t there?)
Fun is personal and not subject to outside standards…except sometimes it is. And it’s a diversion, so it can’t be work…but sometimes it ist. And it can’t be manufactured, can it? There’s a whole line of political philosophy that interrogates fun under capitalism — yes really — but I think Sponge Bob, corporate origin though he has, says it best:
Links, Links, Links!
The writing advice that stands out for me this week is The Rules of Violence Part Two on writing meaningful violence. I am a child of the 80s, so the trailer for Expendables 3 brings a tear to my eye. I can appreciate the senseless, gratuitous violence that made me love those movies, but I also appreciate this bloggers point that writing good violence and death means that there has to be a price. From the victim to the perpetrator to the witnesses, everyone should be affected by that violence in some way. “What a good story-teller can do is make taking a life work, re-create that commitment, and never make it casual or easy.”
Continuing what has now become a bit of a tradition for me, I’m livetweeting my read of M.L. Brennan’s Generation V, the first book in her American Vampire series. Though this is the first time I’m reading her work, I’ve been corresponding with her on Twitter for a while, and loving the fun, insane conversations we’ve had. She’s perfect for this little endeavour, and we’ve already had a grand discussion about the vampire birds and the bees. Follow along at the hashtag #MLBGENV.
A study of dialects on Twitter has revealed the existence of global super dialects used on the social networking service. That is, dialects that cross continents to be used by members of similar groups across the world — rural Spanish speakers might use the same dialect on Twitter in California and in Argentina. Since dialects are usually tied closely to particular places and subcultures, it’s interesting to see such intense globalization of language shifts!
Does language shape how we experience the world? Maybe. Maybe not. The New York Times explores the question:
So different languages certainly make us speak about space in very different ways. But does this necessarily mean that we have to think about space differently? By now red lights should be flashing, because even if a language doesn’t have a word for “behind,” this doesn’t necessarily mean that its speakers wouldn’t be able to understand this concept. Instead, we should look for the possible consequences of what geographic languages oblige their speakers to convey. In particular, we should be on the lookout for what habits of mind might develop because of the necessity of specifying geographic directions all the time.
The article looks not at what language allows us to think, but what language obliges us to pay attention to — or to ignore.