Archive for the ‘Style and register’ Category

whom from long ago

March 19, 2015

In the NYT Magazine on Sunday (the 15th), an article, “The Last Volunteer”, with an account, as told to Dan Kaufman, from Del Berg:

Del Berg, 99, is the last known surviving veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, a contingent of nearly 3,000 Americans who fought to defend the democratically elected government during the Spanish Civil War of the 1930s.

The beginning of his story:

It was 1937, and the Fascists had already revolted in Spain. I was walking down a street in Hollywood when I saw a sign — “Friends of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade” — written on the side of a building. I turned the corner, opened the door and went in. The people inside said, “What can we do for you?” I said, “I want to go to Spain.” They couldn’t legally send people to Spain, they told me, but did I want to help? I did. My life started with poverty and then came the Depression. I felt a certain responsibility to help the Spanish workers and farmers.

They told me to go to an organization called the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy. I was put to work there helping organize meetings and collecting clothes for the Republic. There was a younger guy working with me. One day he turned to me and said, “Do you want to go to Spain?” I said yes, I sure do. He said, “I’ll tell you whom to go see.”

That whom caught my eye; it sounded awfully formal for the context.

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Cheeses

January 24, 2015

Passed on to me, this 2007 Phil Selby cartoon:

(#1)

A take-off on door-to-door evangelizing, by (in particular) Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, using the pun Jesuscheeses to move things to the world of mice, who are famously fond of cheese.

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Calvin’s genre competence

January 23, 2015

A while back, we witnessed Calvin’s competence in writing tabloid headlines. Yesterday he took on talk radio:

“Imagine getting paid to act like a six-year-old!”

Headline stuff

January 6, 2015

When I posted on Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) and his mastery of tabloid headlinese, readers contributed two kinds of comments (here and on Facebook): appreciations of inventive headlines, and notes on the vocabulary of headlinese.

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Mastering a style

December 31, 2014

Today’s Calvin and Hobbes, in which Calvin shows his mastery of tabloid headline writing:

Calvin’s doing well on the headline register (simple present tense for reporting events, omission of articles) used with other stylistic features (lexical choices in ichthyoidgrim melee, devours) and a breathless framing of the report, to reproduce the genre of tabloid headlines.

Visual formats

September 12, 2014

(Warning: some material about gay sex in plain language.)

On AZBlogX, a posting about a “cast album” for the gay porn flick Crave. Here, some reflections about this (conventionalized) visual format, an analogue to to conventionalized formats for linguistic material, variously referred to as “styles”, “registers”, “routines”, or “genres” (the terminological issues are vexed indeed) — choices of linguistic features that come together in packages, for use in specific contexts for specific purposes.

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Ruthie and Joe again

August 29, 2014

In today’s One Big Happy, the kids do their best to cope with rare English vocabulary:

Ick.

I’m not at all inclined to use eschew in speech, and I seem to have used it only once in writing on the net. It’s awkwardly formal in style/register.

temblor

August 26, 2014

We had an earthquake in northern California in the middle of the night on Sunday. Centered in Napa County, where it did some significant damage. Down here on the peninsula, we got some long shaking, but not much otherwise. My windows rattled, but nothing was harmed; not even the pictures on my walls were deranged.

Then there’s the media coverage, which prominently uses (in all quake reporting, but especially in headlines) the word temblor, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard in ordinary conversation; it seems to be a journalists’ word.

Maybe some journalists think that temblor is a technical, precise term and that (earth)quake is a colloquial and less precise term, but I can find no evidence for this idea. All the dictionaries I’ve looked at, plus the Associated Press Stylebook, treat temblor as a straightforward synonym for earthquake, with no referential distinction.

It’s true that temblor is shorter than earthquake, so it’s handy for for headlines. But the clipped quake is shorter than temblor, and has the advantage of easy comprehension. (Tremor is also compact and easy to understand.) But newspapers like the exotic temblor.

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MUFFIN SAUSAGES WITH EGGS

June 18, 2014

That’s what was on the diner’s board giving the day’s breakfast specials a few days ago. How to interpret it?

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DILF days

June 13, 2014

(Warning: Very high (gay) sexual content in the text of this posting. Pass on if you are under 18 or if such content doesn’t suit you.)

Father’s (or Fathers or Fathers’) Day is about to be upon us, so of course purveyors of porn are offering dad-oriented films. Well, daddy-oriented films, daddy-boy relationships being a gay specialty, in real life and even more in the fantasy world of Gayland, where DILFs abound.

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