English was my first and remains my most loyal lover, and she's a kinky, kinky girl. Think about it: she's always open for a threesome. Indeed, English written for someone else, even if they never read it, is injected with more effort and energy – especially when the intent of that writing is romantic. Instant messaging has also opened a whole new arena for text interaction – one where English herself plays middlewoman to conversations that can have surprising intimacy. There is something about typing that makes the recipient a confidant, whether it is a journal or a person across MSN or ICQ. Somehow, you gain a freedom to tell secrets when you are not actually speaking them aloud. In that sense, and insofar as it is more highly crafted, written English is sexier than its spoken cousin. Speech, after all, is often a duller substitute for that which could be said with greater poise and eloquence in writing. While it carries the urgency inherent to immediacy, spoken language does not possess the same role as an interlocutor in your communication, though spoken language of a higher order can approximate the intimacies of the written word. The written word can be subtle or very bold. There is something naked about black text that stands there and refuses to be denied, even if the implications are subtle. The innuendo and the outright command both take on a certain depth, and the thrill of commitment, when they are put on paper and, especially, when that paper is sent to someone else. The other person is not so much the recipient as a voyeur looking into the relationship that you have with the language itself. After all, language plays a big role in shaping the very way we think – a sort of epistemological coitus.
The second reason why English is sexy is punctuation. What is punctuation other than a certain form of bondage? A semicolon is like a well tied knot: part of a structure that, while constraining, is also creative and that enhances not only meaning, but emphasis as well. Grammar in general imposes constraints and rules that make a sort of bondage and domination experience of the language. Roles are defined, to a degree, but suddenly reversed. A sentence fragment throws English on her back just as the requirement for the occasional verb binds even the most free spirited writer. There is always a give and take, an enthusiasm on both sides of our relationships with our language. There is never total control on either side. Also, we interact with English in two ways. In one form, we choose words and meld them with ideas in a purely internal way: English is another set of thoughts and memories that we are free to shape with our minds. In the other way, we are ever confronted by the external self of English: a force that compels us and, to an extent, dominates not only our internal use of the language, but the very thoughts that we have. The thoughts of others, as we experience them, can be no more isolated from the language of their delivery than our own thoughts can be separated from the paradigm of language within our own minds. That complex dynamic interplay, with no clear controller, is a particularly sexy aspect of language in general and English in my particular case. It’s not a thing that is boring: it confronts us from without in ways that are unexpected and, most remarkably, can suddenly give form to things within ourselves that we had no clear idea of before.
English is a natural role player, she isn't jealous or closed-minded (quick to incorporate words from other languages, n'est-ce pas?) English doesn’t care if you spend a night with a French sonnet or a thirty syllable German monstrosity of a word. First of all, she knows that you will never be able to resist her indefinitely. Secondly, and perhaps most sexy of all, she does not need you. English is a force entirely beyond you and, in an abstract way, perhaps even contemptuous of the cut down and limited version of her you are capable of keeping in your head. At the same time, she isn’t cruel or spiteful: she does not mock your inadequacies nor think less of you for them. Rather, she refuses to let your failings be a reflection of her. She is at her best when like Donne’s Catholic Church and “open to most men.” The wide range of her interests and affiliations does not, however, impede upon the level of intimacy you can attain with English; her great advantage over actual physical women is the extent to which not only does it not matter that she is used by others as thoroughly and intimately as she is used by you, but that there is a certain rejoicing in that shared usage. The very idea of such a thing with a biological entity is vaguely foul, but when considered with reference to this great and wonderful collective construct that is language, one can see how the joys of discourse and literature arise from that shared appreciation. We can look in on the games and role reversals than English has played with others, men and women alike, and not only see things that are new and intriguing, but also reflections of ourselves – thoughts that eluded us and refused to be named until their nature was revealed in the observation of somebody else.
English is playful yet deep - full of secrets. She is dramatic (even operatic) and insatiable. There will never come a day when you set her down, satisfied. Rather, she exhausts every man who tries to crash his waves on her graceful and mysterious coast. Paradoxically, English is both within us and beyond us – both penetrator and engulfer. English transcends the limitations of any biological sexuality while maintaining the enthusiasm, the intimacy, and that delight in kinkiness that are its hallmarks.