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Question...? Perception and Language

Robinne Weiss

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I just got a manuscript back from the editor, and one of the corrections she made was to change the description "singing pain" to "stinging pain". I'm sure she assumed I'd made a typo, but I hadn't--I really did mean "singing". But it got me thinking ... am I the only one for whom pain sings? (not all types of pain, of course--some does indeed sting, rather than sing) And how does our language affect how we experience sensations? If we assign a word to a feeling, does it change the feeling? Can we change a feeling by assigning a different word to it? Fodder for someone's PhD thesis, I'm sure ... language is such an intriguing thing.
 

CageSage

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I'd call it screaming pain, but then again, if you heard my singing, it could be a well be a painful event on the ears ... I hope you don't sing that badly.
However, there was a time I described to a doctor when the pain was a screaming numbness and she rolled her eyes - but it really was: numb on the surface, screaming in the muscles (when a nerve gets pinched as well as impinged blood supply to the limb).
Everyone experiences pain based on their own perceptions, and relate to it in their own words. No one else will feel it the same way, or experience the words to mean it an any similar texture or shape (unless they do that synesthesia, perhaps?).
Words become language through experiential communal use and understanding.
 

RK Capps

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It's true, language is intriguing, and how we choose to string words together can also create emotional resonance. I can relate to the expression 'singing pain' but one of Pete's sayings comes to mind, "if ppl can read your words wrong, they will." If you wanted to avoid ppl thinking it's a typo, and you want to keep the expression (because word choices are your decision; they show your personality :)), why not change the structure i.e. the pain sang, and even add a simile?
 

Galadriel

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I say 'singing pain,' when it's pain that hits a 'high note.'
I once had an agent who red-inked my word 'smelt.' I'd written something like, the room smelt earthy. The agent said it should be 'smelled,' as 'smelt' refers to smelting metal. I've always said smelt - and the dictionary says smelt and smelled are equal.
 

Hannah F

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I say 'singing pain,' when it's pain that hits a 'high note.'
I once had an agent who red-inked my word 'smelt.' I'd written something like, the room smelt earthy. The agent said it should be 'smelled,' as 'smelt' refers to smelting metal. I've always said smelt - and the dictionary says smelt and smelled are equal.
Smelt is the English past tense of smell as well as metal melting. Smelled is the American past tense of smell. Like leant and leaned.
 
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