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Stephen Fry - Language

Enjoyable talk and animation, although I should note that we do love our local pedantsareus


 

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Heh, this style of animation originated from a piece we did back in 2003, its amazing how wildly used it is these days.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IiSLFhBQmNU

There are some people who never make grammatical errors and that's all fine and dandy. I agree with this man in that the people I most respect are those who have a strong command of the language in an interesting way. I know some people who are quite familiar with the grammatical rules and yet at times they'll speak somewhat colloquially .

I use the phrase "brave it out" occasionally and this irritates pedants.

Thank you Red. As much as I appreciate and admire Fry I must say that this diatribe, at least the front end of it, seems very much a question of "this is what I think language pedantry is and I don't like it" while the latter part fits much more with my own feelings about context. As far as that goes MY feeling (for what it's worth) is that when the context is the WRITTEN word it should be grammatically correct unless deliberately not so.

Enjoyable talk and animation, although I should note that we do love our local pedantsareus

I believe the first part of your sentence is missing a verb.

I've spent a good deal of my adult life struggling to learn languages. Language isn't grammar. Language is like wine and grammar is merely the vessel—important but not entirely essential. If you disagree then you haven't had a conversation with someone who knows almost no grammar but has a considerable vocabulary in another tongue.

Any douche bag who is upset by a sign that reads “5 items or less” probably hasn’t had to come to grips with Arabic measure 8 verbs, or the Spanish subjunctive, or whether a French verb requires “de” or “à” when followed by an infinitive. Language is about communication, it’s not about excluding people because they have other hobbies besides English grammar.

Yes. Language is about communication. Conversation is the highest form of art

Absolutely, JoAnn! And communication is more than exchange of facts and ideas, it allows judgements to be made about how the way people use language reflects their personality and attitude. I spent a good part of my adult life struggling to come to terms with science, and the problem there is that what you write MUST be precise and accurate. There should be no room for mis-interpretation. This is why my supervisor at University, when discussing my work on the philosophy of education, said "your trouble, Roger, is that you are a scientist and you have difficulty in stringing words together." As I said above - context is paramount and I would not use the same terminology writing a paper as talking to students, but I would expect them to be flexible as well. As to personality and attitude - I find it hard to take anyone seriously who decides that anyone is a 'douchebag' simply because they don't agree with their, personal, view of language usage. I think a reasoned presentation of this attitude is given by this David Mitchell 'Rant' - Absolutely, JoAnn! And communication is more than exchange of facts and ideas, it allows judgements to be made about how the way people use language reflects their personality and attitude. I spent a good part of my adult life struggling to come to terms with science, and the problem there is that what you write MUST be precise and accurate. There should be no room for mis-interpretation. This is why my supervisor at University, when discussing my work on the philosophy of education, said "your trouble, Roger, is that you are a scientist and you have difficulty in stringing words together." As I said above - context is paramount and I would not use the same terminology writing a paper as talking to students, but I would expect them to be flexible as well. As to personality and attitude - I find it hard to take a person seriously who decides that anyone is a 'douchebag' simply because they don't agree with their, personal, view of language usage. I think a reasoned presentation of this attitude is given by this David Mitchell 'Rant' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kge9ZzjsfW8

Sorry about that - It got mixed up somehow. Try this for clarity

Absolutely, JoAnn! And communication is more than exchange of facts and ideas, it allows judgements to be made about how the way people use language reflects their personality and attitude. I spent a good part of my adult life struggling to come to terms with science, and the problem there is that what you write MUST be precise and accurate. There should be no room for mis-interpretation. This is why my supervisor at University, when discussing my work on the philosophy of education, said "your trouble, Roger, is that you are a scientist and you have difficulty in stringing words together." As I said above - context is paramount and I would not use the same terminology writing a paper as talking to students, but I would expect them to be flexible as well. As to personality and attitude - I find it hard to take anyone seriously who decides that anyone is a 'douchebag' simply because they don't agree with their, personal, view of language usage. I think a reasoned presentation of this attitude is given by this David Mitchell 'Rant' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kge9ZzjsfW8

Without meaning it I guess I hit a little too close to home with the "douche bag" remark. I suppose if the shoe fits you should wear it with pride. The good news is that I don't give a shit if some total stranger on the internet doesn't take me seriously. I also don’t care about the grammar and spelling of perfect strangers. If someone I knew and cared about wrote poorly I would try to help them out if I were able.

David Mitchell is a 19th century grammar school mistress trapped in the body of a pudgy adolescent girl (although I liked The Mitchell and Webb Look). However, I would never judge him because he can't do a push-up.

As I suspected - you aren't the sort of person who makes judgements on total strangers, just one who uses offensive language in an importunate manner? I suppose it is OK to make a judgement about someone you have never met but seen on TV (or read comments by for that matter). The 'don't care' statements are rather reminiscent of Shakespeare's (almost) quotation "I fear he doth protest too much."

I'll have to agree that context does count: if you're writing scholarly work, you should strive to communicate both in an interesting fashion and with correct (current) grammar. Scholarly work is for reference and should be something that others reading your work will be able to understand readily - even if that means having some sense of the language and idioms contemporary to various writings.

Since my mom was an english major, I've had this stuff driven into me since day 1. An old bf - a college prof before I ended up there - did laugh at my spoken language. i reminded him that I didn't write (papers) how i spoke and we laughed. Communicating is the most important part of language; color is icing on the cake; technique is important, again, in certain contexts.

I was mainly thinking about the beauty of communication. The written form of communication as well as the spoken form of communication can both be forms of art as used by some people.

Using a term such as "douche bag" is a tad jarring to the senses. Still, I understand where LeftBanker is coming from. Nose in the air erudition can be somewhat annoying and yet it is true that too many spelling/grammitical errors from any given person does have a tendancy to cause one to assume certain assumptions about said speaker or author of the words.

I was mainly thinking about the beauty of communication. The written form of communication as well as the spoken form of communication can both be forms of art as used by some people.

agreed!

I’ve never been able to shake the Tourette Syndrome I suffered from serving in the American military so “douche bag” is about as mild an insult as you’ll get from me. I try not to use profanity in Spanish or French even though in Spain profanity is looked upon in a completely different way than in the USA. There is none of the phony Puritanism we have in the States where you need to revive someone with smelling salts after they swoon from hearing a vulgarity—at least those people with a thesaurus in one hand and Shakespeare cliff notes in the other.

With that said, how else would you describe someone who is offended by a supermarket sign saying “5 items or less?” “Douche bag” is a term I use sparingly but in this instance I feel that it’s the mot juste (mots justes?).

With that said, how else would you describe someone who is offended by a supermarket sign saying “5 items or less?”

fuck shit asshole douchebag cunt ?

branleur, couilles, fils de salope, putin ? petit con ?

putz schmuck momzer tuchis putznasher ?

cabrón, el hijo de puta, el culo ?

I'm not offended yet and all of those words are more appropriate than "grammar bore."

“Society is now one polished horde, formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored"

  • Lord Byron

and better than grammar Nazi.

Perhaps we can coin own own terms? With the flexibility of language, it wouldn't take too much work.

So what exactly is the problem with "grammar bore" and "grammar nazi" that one would need to coin a new term??

Perhaps "grammar nazi" brings to mind Godwin's Law. But what is wrong with "grammar bore"?

OK, I’ll bite on the word coinage. I think “grammar nazi” gives them too much menace. They are more like asthmatic, nerdy grammar cub scouts.

A person who gets overly-concerned with grammar errors in shop window signs: Gram-tard, etymoron, and punctuation pansy.

P.S. Would you consider Lord Byron a bore, bored, or a douche bag? I’m not bored so I must be one of the other two. I suppose I could be both (I'm a multi-tasker).

think “grammar nazi” gives them too much menace.

entertaining commentary. thanks.

etymoron, and punctuation pansy

yessssss

P.S. Would you consider Lord Byron a bore, bored, or a douche bag?

ha

Well we are all at times bores, bored and douche bags.

and/or

If you've got enough spelling and grammar errors though, your text might get harder and more annoying to read, cause the reader has to make that extra effort to try to understand what the hell words you meant two rite.

For instance, we had that guy who didn't bother with paragraphs on the forum. I skipped most of his posts.

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