Publié le 16.08.2016

The English Method

Dear diary,

I prepared my cat-trap as carefully as any mouse would. First, I sang an old Saxon song, and I could feel the Universal Language putting its claws with delight on the little pocket of flesh, or muscle, or gray cell where it was stored. The more I sang, the more difficult it was, for I felt the pain I described, the one that had surprised me when first I discovered the Universal Language feeding on the others. I sang all the song I knew, telling the beads of past centuries, with the many mistakes my memory must have made for when you’ve lived through them you tend to get confused; even nursery rhymes of the nineteenth centuries, with all their bizarre words invented for children, were enough to drive the Language mad, running after each available prey, its appetite awoken by each new bait, leaving a tasty piece where it had dug its fang even before it had even started gnawing, to rush towards the new one. But once I had started speaking the simplest English I knew, the one commonly used by everyone but probably native English speakers themselves, I felt it becoming agitated, wanting to go back; here and then, I threw a bone, an oddity, a neologism, a fashionable expression that had just appeared; and it couldn’t help but run towards it.

And after a few hours, I had it and it was trapped. It could not feed. I felt it knocking on the bars of the cage I had put it in. And I then addressed every object in the house in this simple form. They answered in their own English - that I refuse to call broken, it was only on a diet; not using the Universal Language, but in this pleasant, if short, English method. I suspect they had felt like me this dangerous intruder eating what little they had to offer it. It jumped and raged and raged, but with no result. I started telling out loud the events of the day before in an even poorer manner that what I wrote here, erasing with it any specific linguistic association in my memory. And when I was done, I felt something like a little lump on the side of my forehead. I took a knife and cut it out. There was nothing to be seen - but flesh and something that could have been a tiny part of my brain. You could only feel a faint and strange presence, terrified and starved - but all of this I burned in the fireplace. For added safety, I got rid of the ashes in many ways.

I was free, though dizzy with this venture in self-surgery. I tried to have a talk with the mirror. This time it didn’t answer. I felt at ease. The warning of the Language itself, speaking through the eagle-owl, came back to me though how memory was enough for the Universal Language to reform - and sometimes, these words come back to me, as they did the other day when I decided to write down a more thorough account of what had happened to me. And this fills me with dread, to the point where I come back to whatever language is the safest - but for now, nothing is safer than the good old universal English, the very one that is blamed by for so many evils, but that for me has proven to be the most reliable tool of salvation.

There are no foreign languages to my mind; how could there be ? I have forgotten, really, what language I was first taught, the same way I don’t remember much before the days of Hyperborea. Surely, I’m more at ease with some I’ve been practicing for a very long time, surely. But I have lost my real native tongue - the first one. I don’t really care anymore about it, for things in their primordial state are not of interest once you’ve lived a few millenia. Only the so-called Universal Language, that doesn’t deserve the name it gave to itself, was foreign - or, as I fear I did not really get rid of it, is. But any song, any sound, anything that my tongue can pronounce or even mangle, is just something that will probably be familiar one day or the other. In all likelihood, I will end up speaking a variety of my own; and this would bring to life my second biggest fear, that I alone would catch it.

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