28 October 2010

That Which I Hope Never Comes True

"Aphasia is the inability to use or understand language (spoken or written) because of a brain lesion."

I took that quote from the delightful word blog, Words, Words, Words (and Phrases), because it struck me deeply when I read.  Scriptor Senex (the blogger of aformentioned blog) has been providing wonderful nuggets of language for some time, and I get a kick out of the new (and sometimes not so new) words that he brings to our attention. Subfusc is a good recent example.  Go on, click through and read for yourself!

Sometimes, though, like the wreckage thrown up by the sea during a storm a word pops out and really grabs me in a visceral way. "Aphasia" is one of those words.  I read and re-read the sentence many times, and each time I had two reactions: 1) That really can't be, can it? and 2) That frightens the hell out of me!

The inability to use or understand language because of a brain lesion...or for that matter, ANY reason gives me a full-on case of the yammering fantods.  I know it can happen, I know I've heard the word used in context, but seeing it so succinct and stark on the page made me shiver.

It also made me give thanks that I can use and understand language.  I love language, words, phrases, even if my depth of knowledge is woefully incomplete and my mastery of technical issues is far from professional.  Language, language, language: the keys to understanding the world and making sense out of it.  I need language, crave it, fear it, and love it.

I wondered what I would do if I suddenly became aphasic.  How would I say what I want to say?  How would I empty my mind, so that I would not go mad?

My Big Bro was asked once, if he were to lose a sense, would he rather go blind or go deaf.  He said he would rather go blind, because he could not imagine a world in which he could not listen to music and hear things like birdcalls.  He said he could take not seeing, but to not hear music?  Too scary to contemplate.

I understand what he meant.  I feel the same way about words and language.  I hope I never experience the condition of aphasia...but at least I know there is a word for it.  That's something I'm likely to never forget!

9 comments:

  1. accckkk...when i was faced with literal blindness, I pondered that question too.....and was hard pressed to really say which I would REALLY prefer to lose, faced with the potential....but the idea of losing language...when it is so hard won...from the communicating of a need, to forming a sound, to making a word, and hten a word that makes sense, and then sentences, and grammar and punctuation...i sometimes will look at a sentence and just be amazed that i know what every thing means.....to lose that....i can't bear the idea

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  2. First - I didn't know about that word. So thank you for re-directing me to said blog.

    Second - you can lose language? There's a thought that never occured to me. Ever. Losing language. S.C.A.R.Y. :-|

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  3. I knew someone who had a stroke and suffered from aphasia ..
    It is as if you have suddenly landed on another planet and no one speaks your language.. horrid, nightmarish stuff.

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  4. thanks for the link, sugar! i found this on the sidebar there and thought it was hilarious! “I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.” - Winnie the Pooh i can't imagine not being able to use or hear words again. when the coconut krewe were young, we used to play the word a day game. at dinner, you have to bring your new word and use it in a sentence correctly. to this day, i still don't know how 8 year old super nana discovered the word postprandial! xoxox

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  5. I used to play that "game"... try to decide which sense I could live without. I could never decide. A loss of even my sense of smell seemed almost too much to bear. But I also know, in my heart, I would continue and adapt regardless.

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  6. What if you don't want to give up either? Can you substitute an appendage or an organ?

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  7. Thanks, dude..like my worry bank isn't overdrawn already :)

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  8. Yeah, my ex had a brain aneurysm when he was 17. It was a leak, not a rupture, so over the years it cauterized itself and has actually shrunk. He's doing well. However, when the leak occurred, he experienced many things, including aphasia. Fortunately it was temporary.

    A scary condition indeed.

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  9. My mother is showing signs of dementia - she is young, only in her 60s (it's heartbreaking). An Alzheimer's-like dementia seems to run in my family. Scares the hell out of me.

    However, there are as many folks who have made it to elderly years w/ their brains sharp and intact. I intend to be that sort.

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