What pleasant holiday surprises have you had?greenspun.com : LUSENET : General Graffiti : One Thread
I got a nifty little holiday poem about my computer woes, which just tickled me to death. What about you? Anyone surprised you with something fun for the holidays?
-- Dawn (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 19, 2000
Only with how much fun it is to have a real life christmas tree. I've always thought they were a bit non-U, and now we have one, and it delights me every time I catch a glimpse of it sparkling away.
-- Anna (email@example.com), December 19, 2000.
I was so surprised when I read that, too: I can't imagine Christmas without a tree!
You'll have to explain "non-U", though. Non-Union? Non-Universal? Non- University? It escapes me, really.
-- Dawn (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 19, 2000.
Non-Upper-Class, from the famous essay by Nancy Mitford that pointed out that longer, Latinate words that one would expect to sound more impressive were actually not used in daily speech by upper class people. "Stationery" is non-U; Us say "writing paper." The labeling system can be extended to other features of life as well.
Though I don't know why Christmas trees should be non-U. I thought they were fairly universal.
-- Diana (email@example.com), December 20, 2000.
See, I'm so non-U I hadn't a clue.
Just out of curiosity, Diana, do you know whether any similar studies have been done on languages other than English? That could be interesting. Well, unless it's a language like Pakistani, about which I know less than nothing. Let's say European languages.
(yes, I know this is WAY off-topic, but hey, it's my forum!)
-- Dawn (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 20, 2000.
That's a great question. The only language where I'm pretty sure there is comparable material is French; one could start with Le Guide De Bon Chic Bon Genre which is the French (agh) Preppy Handbook. I seem to remember that contains some notes on language. France also seems to have lots of guides to upward mobility that may contain lists of forbidden and preferred words.
To write about class differences in language, you first have to admit that you have a class system. For that reason there is no work on class and language in the Nordic countries (or if there is, the comparison is between the poorest or most rural people and "the rest of us," not between the upper class and "the rest of us"). And there is no work on class and language in Russia or any of the post- Communist countries. That I'm aware of, I mean.
Are there class-based lexical differences in Italy?
(And I also got a pleasant holiday surprise today but I'm going to be squirrely and not say what or from whom. I just wanted to affirm that I am still socially alive!)
-- Diana (email@example.com), December 21, 2000.
>To write about class differences in language, you first have to >admit that you have a class system. For that reason there is no work >on class and language in the Nordic countries (or if there is, the >comparison is between the poorest or most rural people and "the rest >of us," not between the upper class and "the rest of us"). And there >is no work on class and language in Russia or any of the post- >Communist countries. That I'm aware of, I mean.
Very good point; I hadn't thought of that, probably because no one in Italy has any qualms about admitting to class differences. As a matter of fact, there's not a great deal of class mobility here. This is an ongoing point of discussion between Dario and myself. It drives me up the wall.
>Are there class-based lexical differences in Italy?
That's a great question, and I've been pondering it. It gets complicated with the matter of regional and local dialects, which makes it difficult to generalize about much of anything language- related. Of course, that's one point right there: the use of dialect or dialect-based words in everyday conversation is a sign of, um, "non-U- ness." Even a very strong local accent can be taken as a sign of "poor breeding."
I can't really think of specific words, but I'll be paying close attention over the next few days to see if I any examples strike me. I'm surrounded by non-U folks, so there'll be plenty of opportunities for data collection.
>(And I also got a pleasant holiday surprise today but I'm going to >be squirrely and not say what or from whom. I just wanted to affirm >that I am still socially alive!)
You tease!! Don't we even get a hint?
-- Dawn (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 24, 2000.
Actually, I thought of a test for this. If you take an American novel that has class-based words in it, how does it get translated into (say) Italian? Of course, this assumes the translator is good.
This is more about accent than vocabulary, but when My Fair Lady was produced in Estonia, Eliza was given a regional accent. And I once saw a production of Fame in a small city in Finland. The teachers spoke standard Finnish, the kids spoke the local dialect, which is heavily diphthongized (the Finnish equivalent of Australian actually).
-- Diana (email@example.com), December 26, 2000.