Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How to Spell a Baby Cry

Essentially, words are symbols: our primeval grunts and rumbles molded to an abstract linguistic construct. Those that are onomatopoeic perhaps are the least symbolic, the most literal and honest. At least, this is what my mother tells me when I ask her why she named me Wouaaa. Then she protests that she didn't name me at all. I named myself with that first wail out of the womb.

She complains that her spelling is the closest she could get to that wail, sighing about the limits of language. Nothing could capture that mottle-cheeked, tongue-curled waaah or wanhh or wu-wu-wouaaahhh. Nothing, apparently, but Wouaaa (Wou for short).

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