Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thanksgiving Treats

Note: The WORD takes the rest of the week off. Be thankful for favors small and large. TP

Thankful for Language

“For me, it is a cause of some upset that more Anglophones don’t enjoy language. . . . People seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost everything but words these days. Words, it seems, belong to other people. Anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed. The free and happy use of words appears to be considered elitist or pretentious. Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people’s language and in which they show their own superior ‘knowledge’ of how the language should be. I hate that.”
—Stephen Fry, whose exposition on language is made into “kinetic typography” by 18-year-old graphic artist Matt Rogers of Perth, Australia. Great stuff. Click here.
(Thanks to alert WORDster Mark Larson)

Editorial Comment: Where the hell does he get off?

For Thanksgiving: Instead of Peezpix, I offer this xtranormal video for all professors who have thought this, and for all students who have, too.


  1. The Stephen Fry piece was AWESOME. As an old typesetter from way back, I salute Matt Rogers for the pure artistry of this production. Poetry in motion. Words are elements of beauty. As for Fry's message... as a self-proclaimed member of the grammar-police (to serve and correct), I will quote Pease: "Where the hell does he get off?"

  2. I am crazy about Stephen Fry.

    AND I am conflicted about his message.

    I have read most of the linguist Steven Pinker's books. In his discussions about descriptive and prescriptive approaches to the way the language works, he lands (as I recall) pretty much in the same camp as Stephen Fry.

    Pinker has a chapter in one of his books called, "The Grammar Maven." It describes me perfectly. I am a grammar policewoman, stomping around, trying to obliterate the improper use of, oh, imply and infer. Sometimes I would like to obliterate the perpetrator of such a linguistic crime!

    Pinker says exactly what Fry says: As long as one is getting the message across, it does not matter that one is also breaking the "rules." He also asserts the importance of using language correctly when the circumstances require it.

    THAT SAID: Steven Pinker's language in his books is impeccable. OK. In a book is the place to use correct language. Right? But even the littlest, most obscure language rule is observed in his writing. Things most people would not notice. (I know that last sentence is a fragment!)

    Speaking of Steven Pinker, he and his wife (Rebecca Newberger Goldstein) must be the most intellectually gifted couple on the planet.

    Right after Ted Pease and Brenda Cooper, that is.

    Goldstein's book, "36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction" is a ROMP!

    (Imagine italics or underlining above.)

  3. Kinetic typography has my heart.

    Also, I loved this video. The points he made and the ways he made his points were brilliant. I loved the section about "prepositions that end sentances" and the "tripping of the tips of their tongues..." I think he illustrated exceptionally well that words and word placement can be so much more important than a sentence as a whole.

  4. Free speech is praised in the second video since the F word is not bleeped out which stunned me, but I loved it. The Kinestic Typography was very well done, but man does he have an attitude!!

    Romina Nedakovic

  5. Professor Pease are you trying to tell us something with that last video? I'm so glad I didn't ask for extra time for that video project...

    Anyway I really like the first video. Language is constantly evolving and I think we'll find that the grammar is evolving as well. Though I hope I will never consider text speak acceptable. That's yuck!

    Erica Abbott