2 min read

ADJECTIVE Encounters

Really she is the strangest creature in the world, far from heroic, variable as a weathercock, “bashful, insolent; chaste, lustful; prating, silent; laborious, delicate; ingenious, heavy; melancholic, pleasant; lying, true; knowing, ignorant; liberal, covetous, and prodigal”— in short, so complex, so indefinite, …

            –Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader, First Series (1925)

I don’t know if Ernest Hemingway is still one of the recognized dominant writers in colleges English education. At least once  a time he WAS. In an extreme form, he used only nouns and verbs to construct sentences.

In my personal English education(as Second Language), admittedly that there is also an absence of adjectives. It is just wonderful, nice, great, cool, weird, awesome,  and all in all, everything is OK or not OK, good or not good. In writing, my sentences lack of tone and shades. I write only technical articles in English and people can often well manage the so-called technical borings when acquiring information, knowledge, and opinions.

In reading when I try to just read for the sake of reading itself, I also find it is difficult to dig into pure literature pages where rich adjectives assembled heavily. I only read smoothly technical papers. So when I happened to have a paper book of Woolf and also loaded a corresponding public domain e-book in Kindle, I read the most intensive instances of adjectives ever. It is really totally different experiences.

There would be three types in any languages. For English:

in the top, pure literature, Shakespeare-like;

middle, which could be called the universal or international English; it is be the dominate English among nations in business, technology and even academia; most of the popular writers also utilize such sort of English to extent their global reputation;

bottom, the street language, slangs, talk-show.

I penetrate the English through the middle like almost all of the ESL learners. It is the most convenient and effective way in a very short run. But for a leap in long run, some friends just suggest that I should go down the street or climb up to the top. Ok I am on the way. Virginia Woolf is the first stop and I keep the first notes.