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Deena Larsen: Rose, a Stealth Language

Rose was, for me, an elegant woman who was full and rich and soft as rose petals, and who yet had thorns. And then I was living on the streets in high school, with no place to put anything.  –Deena Larsen

Deena Larsen

In her words…Lockers at school could easily be broken into, papers strewn everywhere. Backpacks hidden cunningly under back steps could easily be found. I had no place, no thing I could call my own. Everything I wrote could and would be used against me in a court of my peers at any time. So my secret code became even more important.
Moreover, it became a friend, someone I could trust with my secrets. For who else could I trust? Where else could I talk about my problems? And thus Rose has been my friend, my confidante for over three decades now. I use the journal and the Rose stealthlang to talk to her, to think things through, to discover how I feel.

Let Me Show You a Rose Petal

This piece explores what happened after I went to an audiologist to determine if I could get any relief from the tortures of hyperacusis (where sounds resonate as pain in my brain). The audiologist explained that the only method of treatment now available won’t work for me, and there is no other cure. The simplified translation would be: Yeah. Oh. Kay. It ain’t happening. I get that. The inflected translation is:

  • Yeah{unhappy}.
  • O{negative/bad}h{unhappy}.
  • K{opposite of ganbatte–give up}a{worst}y{unprotected}.
  • I{personal}t{impossible}
  • a{worst}i{personal}n{honesty, integrity, truth}’t{impossible}
  • Yeah. Oh. Kay. It ain’t happening. I get that.
  • h{unhappy}a{worst}p{angry}p{angry}e{present to distant future}ni{personal}ng{frown/unhappy}.
  • I{personal}
  • g{frown/pain}et{impossible}
  • t{impossible}h{unhappy}a{worst}t{impossible}.


In transcribing this, each letter that has a {} after it is in the emphasized state. If you just read the {}, you can see the mood I was in. I used the honest “n” in “ain’t” to underscore that there is no cure. I used the impossible “t” both times in “that” to really underscore the impossibility of the situation. Also, in Rose translations, it is actually important to distinguish between the personal and impersonal “I” even if that is the personal pronoun. (Otherwise, pronouns work the same way in Rose as they do in English, but they, like every other word, can carry other inflections. Note that Rose has concepts that do not exist in other languages–thus making it a true language.
The set of meanings for “k” is rather complex. An upward arrow means: {ganbatte, fight the good fight, yes, go for it, do it, right on, hooray for you, bully for you…}. A downward arrow means just the opposite. This is not so much encouragement/discouragement, nor is it try hard/give up–but somewhere in between. It could also be used as a “thumbs up”/”thumbs down” meaning–depending on the context. The set of meanings for “g” is also complex and context dependent–it is a simple emoticon (albiet cyclopean)–smile or frown, or it can be the pain face so often used in hospitals. “G” thus ranges widely as well.

Metacritical marks


The petal is at an angle, denoting a different thought.

But it is also close to and pointing to other petal (I want {impossible} to explain that in a 2 second soundbite). Rose uses paragraph structure like English, but Rose also uses “petals” where a bit of text is set off by direction, color, etc. Petals can, but do not have to be, full sentences. These petals can be considered similar to hypertext nodes,and they are rarely sequential. Petals can also share words simply by laying next to other petals or by intertwining parts of a character. (Again, the intertwined character parts also have a semantic meaning, so this is usually a “double” play).

A second text has dots leading to this petal (Given all that, what e{subjunctive present/future}xpect{possible}ati{personal}ons can I have?). Thus, the petal has two separate meanings–the hyperacusis is not going away and the doctor is never going to listen to me explain how bad it really is to live like this.

The “p” in happening is doubled and angry, so I am really pissed off about this situation.

The tail for the honest “t” in “ain’t” nearly touches the eye of the frowning “g”, connoting that I am honestly and truly pained by this–and that I truly do “get” how bad this is and that I am giving up my pipe dreams of being cured in order to be realistic.

The downward curve on the “y” in “Kay” is bolded, emphasizing how vulnerable I am and how dependent I am on the doctors–how little control I have over the situation.

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