I’ve always had a fascination with linguistics. This includes accents, the unique characteristics of some languages, the integration of new words within that language and the evolution of slang. What sparked my interest is the fact that I am from a multilingual family (five different languages to be exact) and the many times as a child when I approached my parents to learn (the remaining three I could not speak), I was turned away simply because they did not have the teaching ability.
I learnt very quickly that language has a power to reveal different worlds, offer new experiences and bring people together who would otherwise have nothing in common. You could also talk about people without them knowing and express feelings that do not have a definition in another tongue.
This is perhaps what I yearned for the most. I would hear my name in conversations between the adults or have an aunt make a passionate exclamation over a wonderful meal. When I asked for the meaning, I was always given the same response “There is no way to say this in English”.
Within a common language, there are words and phrases that also unite groups of people. There are phrases and acronyms used in BDSM, those outside the community remain blissfully unaware of. Before a certain (horrible) popular movie, very few people knew of the acronym ‘BDSM’.
When I first stumbled on this world, I used Urban Dictionary extensively. I still refer to it regularly for clarification. In all honesty, I use the online word bank more often to decipher text message from millennials (and those with little regard for the King’s English).
Within the constructs of a language, how some people use various phrases/words gives us an insight to their intentions. This is clearly apparent when individuals express their interest and desires within BDSM.
I personally use language as a filter. Now that I can speak the dialect, the task is to read through profiles or messages and decipher hidden meanings and relevance of their expectations. There are many people I will not interact with simply because our interaction would produce no mutually beneficial outcome. Nor do I accommodate the multitude of trolls with too much time on their hands. Their messages are often poorly written with little understanding of the English language. Derogatory adjectives are also placed poorly and often repeated for lack of known synonyms.
That is not to say that I judge anyone who is attempting to communicate in a language that is not their mother tongue. I hold a high respect for those brave enough to stumble through the errors we all make during the learning process.
I feel as though I am this person from distant lands still trying to navigate through unknown BDSM territory. Just as many before me, I have made embarrassing errors and will probably continue to do so. One such instance occurred when I confused ‘edge play’ for ‘edging’ on a public forum. My ignorant post is still probably there, unless some merciful soul has deleted my shame.
I’ll probably continue to make errors here and there as I experiment and explore. That’s part of the fun. To truly appreciate a group of people and find your own little niche within that world, there is nothing more effective than getting acquainted with, and successfully applying the lingo.