In his book Frames of Mind, which some call seminal, (I wouldn’t really know, not a psychologist, just someone who dated a bunch of women who studied it) Howard Gardner proposes the existence of 8 intelligences. These eight are:
Musical Intelligence – People with musical intelligence normally have good pitch or might possess absolute pitch, and are able to sing, play musical instruments, and compose music. They have sensitivity to rhythm, pitch, meter, tone, melody or timbre
Spatial Intelligence – Ability to be aware of spaces and imagine areas with one own’s mind
Linguistic Intelligence – the one we will take a deeper look in this blog post
Logical-Mathematical Intelligence – proclivity towards reason, critical thinking, abstract thinking
Kinesthetic Intelligence – ability to move one’s body in a precise and effective manner as well as being able to use objects expertly.
Interpersonal Intelligence – people who find it easy to understand the mental states of others
Intrapersonal Intelligence – introspective people who are capable of fully understanding oneself Naturalistic Intelligence – bit of a rough draft, and not one he initially proposed, but an ability to gather information about the flora and fauna of the world.
Onto the Linguistic Intelligence!
The basic and central aspect of linguistic intelligence is the extreme sensitivity to words and their meaning. He uses poets as one such example. Writers like Robert Graves or TS Eliot would worry about a single word or phrase in the work for days. But that is not just because it is that one word and its meaning must be perfect. Words in isolation aren’t the only thing one has to worry about, but how they interact with the rest of the stanza, line or sentence. There must be a sensitivity to linguistic connotations. The way the words sound one next to the other is key. This means that Phonology is also one of the key aspects of linguistic intelligence.
Next comes syntax, the writer or poet must understand, intuitively, the rules of constructing phrases as well as the occasions on which it is permissible to flaunt syntax, to juxtapose words that, according to ordinary grammatical principles, should not occur together. And, finally, the poet must appreciate the pragmatic functions, the uses to which language can be put: he must be aware of the different poetic speech acts, ranging from the lyric of love to the epic of description, from the directness of an order to the subtleties of a plea.
To succeed as a writer of any sort, according to Garner, one must have a profound love for language and a keen desire, even lust to explore it in its totality.
Four aspects of Linguistic Intelligence according to Garner:
▪ First of all, there is the rhetorical aspect of language—the ability to use language to convince other individuals of a course of action.
▪ Second, there is the mnemonic potential of language—the capacity to use this tool to help one remember information, ranging from lists of possessions to rules of a game, from directions for finding one’s way to procedures for operating a new machine.
▪ A third aspect of language is its role in explanation. Much of teaching and learning occurs through language
▪ Finally, there is the potential of language to explain its own activities—the ability to use language to reflect upon language, to engage in “metalinguistic” analysis.
◆ The Development of the Writer
He cites Sartre as an example of how one develops as a writer. At a very early age, around the age of 5 Sartre became so well versed in mimicking those around him that he would amuse both his family and their friends. Soon after that, he began writing. Writing is a muscle one has to train. There are no short cuts. Daily exercise is needed. This is said to be the case both by Sartre and numerous other writers Garner cites in his book.
This leads to the development of technical skills, which are the most important foundation for future success as a writer. Auden is one writer who really hammers home this idea, saying that originality and power of conveyed emotions through writing serve more as potential traps and pitfalls, than they do show promise. Another element are the ability of the future writer to memerize experiences. Not just his own, but of others as well. But just the “plot” of the experience is not enough. It is the emotions, sensations, scenery and overall impression that they leave that one must remember.
Garner also states numerous signs of poetic immaturity:
Excessive imitation of the model; stating one’s emotion, tension, or idea too often or too readily; rigid adherence to a given rhyme scheme or metric pattern; too self-conscious an effort to play with sounds and meanings. An effort to be pretty or aesthetically “proper” is also suspect; rather than being presented overtly to the reader, these attributes of beauty and form should emerge from the total experience of reading a work.▪ According to Auden, such an “undeveloped” poet may reveal himself in at least three ways. He may come off as bored; he may be in a hurry and therefore write poetry that is technically slipshod or carelessly expressed (witness Keith Douglas’s youthful verses);