Rachel Neumeier

Fantasy and Young Adult Fantasy Author

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Good letter, bad letters, and terrible vowels

Here is a fascinating article written by Darcey Steinke, who used to stutter and later became a writer:

It was around this time that I started separating the alphabet into good letters, V as well as M, and bad letters, S, F and T, plus the terrible vowel sounds, open and mysterious and nearly impossible to wrangle. Each letter had a degree of difficulty that changed depending upon its position in the sentence. Much later when I read that Nabokov as a child assigned colors to letters, it made sense to me that the hard G looked like “vulcanized rubber” and the R, “a sooty rag being ripped.” My beloved V, in the Nabokovian system, was a jewel-like “rose quartz.”

That is a wonderful paragraph.

Incidentally, this author has recorded her own audiobook. I think that’s pretty awesome.

The central irony of my life remains that my stutter, which at times caused so much suffering, is also responsible for my obsession with language. Without it I would not have been driven to write, to create rhythmic sentences easier to speak and to read. A fascination with words thrust me into a vocation that has kept me aflame with a desire to communicate. As a little girl, I hoped my stutter would let me into the secret world of animals. As an adult, given a kind listener, I am privy to something just as elusive: a direct pathway to the human heart.

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2 Comments Good letter, bad letters, and terrible vowels

  1. Mary Catelli

    Nabokov was a synesthete. He didn’t “assign” the colors; it was innate. In fact, one test for it is that a synesthete’s colors stay the same, whereas the rest of us, if we assign colors, won’t remember them after a year.

    Blue Cats and Chartreuse Kittens: How Synesthetes Color Their Worlds by Patricia Lynne Duffy is interesting on that.

  2. Patricia Lynne Duffy

    Yes–Nabokov’s description of his colored alphabet–( which was naturally occurring, through no effort of his own–much like a dream)–is exquisite.

    On a whole other note–the young artist, Timothy Laydon is at work on a science fiction novel with a ‘synesthesia theme’–it’s called, “Dreams of Laika”

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