Text Context by Jumper

Growing up with wireless, later dehumanised and adulterated into ‘radio’ (but news readers still required to dress formally), then early TV when presenters and actors, even baddies, still spoke ‘BBC English’, brings acute awareness of the gathering stampede towards the cliff edge of banality.

Making no judgement on standards of progressively received language, it occurs that in these tiny islands there are more than several versions of English. Not ethnicity based, although influences often improve depth, the loss of words through popular non-use and the change of ‘sense’ can lead to amusing, or in some cases misunderstood, reaction. All to do with grammar, of course. And, in this case, although not entirely, as the reader can see, punctuation. That’s 120 words of non-personalised narrative - not one ‘I’. Could have been said by anyone and with no indication of origin other than age related. So now I will personalise!

Modern literature and comment sometimes tends to disappoint, with narrow vocabulary and trendy idioms of speech. Where once the colour of language could express meaning in very subtle ways, it is now rarely understood.
For instance, my total exposure to the Sherlock Holmes stories was through TV and radio. A recent birthday present was all of them in one volume, as written by the author. If ever the writer’s intent was misrepresented and devalued in the name of pandering to changing times and medium rather than maintaining excellence…. The language used would probably be laughed at today or, more than likely, be completely baffling. But what an absolute delight.

I’m saying neither good, bad, poor, better nor worse, just a way of using our language to it’s best effect by being accurate and keeping in mind the effect the author intends. Of course, that depends to a large extent on the author rather than his reader. And that’s the root of the problem.

The immediacy, and therefore brevity, of the keyboard as opposed to pen and ink, gives rise to the apparent and often unintended casualness of the text. Even spelling aids do not detect subtlety and hence the increase in ‘challenging’ replies necessitating the use of emoticons to express meaning - you don’t even have to concern yourself with grammar, just revert to cave-wall drawing but without the artistic effort!

Posted 14 Aug 2012, 12:45 #1 

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You do sometimes worry me! :lol: :)

Posted 15 Aug 2012, 11:19 #2 

Have no fear Simon. I am, after all, isolated. This jacket with the bespoke extra-long arms takes a bit of getting out of though.

Posted 15 Aug 2012, 11:31 #3 

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I find I am more inclined to redraft / proof more often simply because it IS so quick....

Have you tried any Mervyn Peak? Gormenghast, Titus Groan, Titus Alone, Mr Pye and the like?

Posted 15 Aug 2012, 19:30 #4