Across Continents

Ken's Blog

Language difficulties

I’d be the first to admit that foreign languages may not be my greatest strength, but that doesn’t diminish my fascination with words or expressions, intrigued as much by everyday oddities as the more complex vernacular. Take impossible heels, a regular tabloid term, and whilst I understand what it is meant to imply, the literal is wholly nonsensical. Unless taken to describe a woman quite unable to stand. And then my other favourite, enjoying a little popular resurgence; industrial action. One of those oxy things I think if I’m not mistaken.

Then there’s alliteration. I’d joked with a friend that this was one of the hallmarks of a poor education. It’d fallen just as flatly at the time. But it is a frequent feature used by writers, journalists and authors. A common contrivance. I’m also quite fond of a structure I lavishly call reverse chronology, others simply flashbacks. Been scribbling the odd note into my pocket book, at first just a random collection of thoughts, little details that might be brigaded together later to give the story colour and depth. Eventually a structure emerging, journeying into the suburbs of Belgrade on a packed evening commuter bus, the account interspaced with reflections on preceding events. Even gave it a title. Chapter One.

But then back to a bit of pro bono work, writing a fresh chapter on cycle expeditions for a pretty prestigious handbook for those contemplating venturing to some of the more challenging places the world has to offer. It’d been a bit more tricky than I’d expected, not least because I was seeking to strike a fine balance between inspiring the novice, contemplating their first trip, and keeping the nodding respect of my peers, other seasoned riders, quite a few of whom I know beyond mere name. And getting the substance right, making sure the technical content is accessible rather than acerbic, incisive gems from the road suitably expressed, the imparting of insight as much as knowledge.


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