My 13-year-old sister has a … unique … writing style.
It’s hard to describe. Really, really hard. She speaks in it, too, when she’s just around our family – and then switches back into fluent English when she’s around friends, or writing for a school assignment.
I honestly can’t put words to how surreal it is to have a sibling who codeswitches between English and her own private language. It’s even weirder to be able to do the same thing oneself.
For your bewilderment, I now transcribe in full, verbatim, her latest letter to me. I have not put in any [sic]s because I would need to do it at the end of every single sentence. (I have not actually explicitly asked her permission for this but she would not mind, there’s nothing personal in it.)
August 27, 2017
I hope you enjoy my Elegant Monographed Stationary. It is still raining, it rains and rains and where is Daddy? He runs in the rain Around and Around [local landmark] [drawing] like so. We do not know Why and Wherefore he runs in the rain after all is he a fish? No, he is Not. It is Awfully Elegant isn’t it. Just like me.
We went to see [local body of water] if it was flooding and was it? How would I know you say, I was not there. I will tell you, it was not, lots of water but not SO much.
Now this will be the letter of Painting my Room, like a story. The first part will count for a Preface, it is Setting the Scene we say. First we went to Lowes and got lots of things, we were very efficient, like soldiers, I wanted to say Present Arms About Face Forward March and sing Hark the Herald Angels Sing for a marching song but Daddy said No No No, I do not know why, awfully cruel and repressive. He only said No No No, I said the rest. Then I spackled everything CUCUMBER* that is what it is called, spackle. It means fill up the nail holes with white, like printing you know. [drawing] if you see what I mean. Next I took off the outlet for the Long Wall that one is the one I am starting with Awfully Sorry [drawing] that is me being sorry. Also I took off the light switch but Mommy said no no 1 wall at a time so I must now put it back. Then is the most exciting part of all. We moved the fish tank table, me and Daddy I mean Daddy and I we picked it up, and OFF came the leg. [drawing] You see I am still in Contrite Black. Then I put plastic all along part of the wall and taped it to the wall 1 more picture so you see Very well: [drawing] And Mommy says we can paint the primer the first no rain day, because the windows must be open so I do not perish of the poison. Speaking of poison I ate a peach and the kernel was split open and there was the poisonous part, [Littlest Sister] and I are going to make poison out of it to dip our arrows in.
Also you must tell me All about the teachings and what sorts of things you teach them and teach them to me too. Do you use a “Chalkboard” so to speak? And send their jigs.** You can do it by Skype if that is easier. Mommy is going to get me a silent clock for less tickings when I sleep. Also less tickings in the day. And I am going to write a precis of the homily next week well next time Father [LastName] does it because it is hard to tell what Father [OtherLastName] says and is that fair? It is not. I miss you Elot you must Much tell me all about everything and also you must send me hugs. [Cat] loves you too, send her pettings.
P. S. I am sending you Tesselating Kitty to be a pet for you.***
* “Cucumber” is the family safeword. (Well, not actually “Cucumber,” but something equally random and silly.)
This developed as a practice when the teenager was a toddler: she liked to play games where people would chase her and tickle her and she would scramble away giggling going “no no no!!”, and would get frustrated if you stopped whenever she said “no,” but would also end up bursting into tears at some point because that time she really meant “no.” So we coined “cucumber” to mean “actually really stop.”
This promptly spread in usage to mean “actually really I promise” in other contexts, used as an adjective or adverb, with an absolute taboo on lying in response. (For instance: “Are you cucumber not upset with me, though?” “Will my nose cucumber get longer if I tell lies?” “Cucumber I do not mind where we go for dinner, so you should pick.”)
The usage here, therefore, means “it really is called ‘spackle,’ I’m not just making up that word (for once).”
** The teenager likes summing up people’s personalities by means of a sort of interpretive dance. (Actually, she’ll describe absolutely anything like that, but people’s personalities especially.) She calls this dance “their jig,” and it’s apparently a sort of Platonic essence of the person. She’ll meet someone and later describe them to me as “her jig was very menacing!”
So when she says “send me their jigs,” she wants me to do interpretive dances to describe my students to her. (She is aware that I will not do this.) Hence the offer of Skype. The fact that Skype is only an option isn’t just her being silly, either – she’s invented a writing system for jigs, and would also accept my transcribing them in that and sending them in my next letter.
*** She’s been designing a name-sign for my desk, featuring a tessellating pattern of cats. She enclosed the stiff card template she made for tracing the cats from, with catlike features sketched onto it.
this is Incredible, thank you for sharing
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