May 20, 2008

wordplay, swordplay

I'm reading Romeo and Juliet with my freshfolks again, so here comes a series of loosely connected thoughts and links:

1. I don't know if I like the term "agenbite," but I do agree that certain words, in Mr. Olson's phrase, possess a form of noetic onomatopoeia.

2. In a mini-lecture, I used the term "s/wordplay" to describe Gregory and Samson's banter, and, it might be added, nearly all the verbal gymnastics, sexual or no, among the male characters in R and J. (I haven't found a good cinematic translation; sadly, the opening is almost entirely chopped out of the Zeffirelli production, and amped up beyond recognition in the Luhrmann travesty.) Subtlety and punnery are the first weapons of choice; only when they fail do the swords come out.

3. Going along with that, Tybalt, the villain, notably hates even the word "peace." He is the most witless, the most humorless of the dramatis personae, which is an important clue to his character.

4. Perhaps all is not lost with our upcoming text-message-based generation.
He and Tagliamonte analysed more than a million words of IM communications and a quarter of a million spoken words produced by 72 people aged between 15 and 20. They found that although IM shared some of the patterns used in speech, its vocabulary and grammar tended to be relatively conservative. For example, teenagers are more likely to use the phrase "He was like, 'What's up?'" than "He said, 'What's up?'" when speaking - but the opposite is true when they are instant-messaging. This supports the idea that IM represents a hybrid form of communication.

Nor do teens use abbreviations as much as the stereotype suggests: LOL (laugh out loud), OMG (oh my god), and TTYL (talk to you later) made up just 2.4 per cent of the vocabulary of IM conversations - an "infinitesimally small" proportion, say the researchers. And rumours of the demise of you would appear to have been greatly exaggerated: it was preferred to u a whopping 9 times out of 10. Tagliamonte and Denis suggest that the use of such short forms is confined mostly to the youngest users of IM
I've been known to bewail and bemoan the text-message trend, so this potentially gripe-undermining discovery is a happy defeat.


Mark said...

Did you try the BBC "tragedy" production?

Jim Anderson said...

I did not. Is it tragic in a good or bad way?

Mark said...

I meant,

I think they aren't a travesty and aren't artsy like the Zeffirelli, although I remember thinking Ms Hussey, uhm, affecting in my youth in that version.

It got that set for the kids for x-mas a few years back, but I'm not sure I remember it well enough to comment.

Mark said...

I might add that in the "comedy" series the Taming of the Shrew with John Cleese in the lead role is just wonderful. His comic timing is amazing.