Friday, 12 February 2010

The Aphasiac's Dictionary

Aphasia is a strange condition which, without first-hand experience, I would have struggled to understand I think. Briefly, it’s the impairment of the language centre in the brain by stroke or other injury. It can manifest in many different ways; some people lose all speech, some can speak but not read or write (or vice versa), some may be able to sing but not speak, others who have been fluently bilingual, may be able to speak one language but not the other. These are just a few examples.

The form with which I am in daily contact is paraphasia where the speaker (my mother) substitutes the correct word with another, such as ‘tight’ for dressing gown. Sometimes she makes up words, for example ‘petcher’ when meaning crispy. This can lead to some very odd combinations of words and bizarre sentences which range from making no sense at all to strangely apt. Instead of saying ‘the doctors are thinking’, she said, ‘the sailors are oberating’. You can imagine how tangled and protracted conversations can be; frustrating for both parties. I have been trying to capture as many of the more interesting words and phrases but sometimes they come so thick and fast I can’t catch them all. Twitter and facebook are ideal for this; wherever we are, I can just fire off a text and it’s there on the net for me to pick up later.

As artists, we draw inspiration from so many different sources, not least from that which is around us. Maybe then, it’s only natural to try to find a creative outlet for some of this stuff, especially as most of my work involves words in one way or another. I don’t know what form the Aphasiac’s Dictionary will take visually yet but I think the words will be incorporated into the images somehow. There will also be some pieces of narrative; again no firm ideas as yet. Meanwhile, the compiling goes on.


  1. really interesting post. it would be compelling to use some of these phrases in your work.

  2. Very glad you're trying to find inspiration in the nightmare of nonsense you are entangled in. Shows determination. - Caspar