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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  449 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Teaching is Fulfilling: what TFG's been up to #3

    It's a fascinating topic. Do you have any papers or books I could read on the matter?

I do not. I find the subject dry as dirt and the codification of language to be counterproductive. As such, I study it enough to piss off English teachers and leave it at that. I've been able to intuit proper structure my entire life and breaking it down into all this subject-predicate bullshit mostly pisses me off. But, counter-example:

Humbows, piroshkis, pierogies and pastys are all meat pies. But in English, all these are meat pies, but they don't get special names. Meanwhile, this is a pie:

but this is a pie:

and this is a pie:

...that's the sort of cultural collision you get when your language is used by many different ethnicities sharing space. and god help you if you mix up your pierogis and your piroshkis. Not only is one boiled and the other baked, but one is made by The One True People and the other is made by The Foreign Enemy. And if you don't want to find out which is which, best remember.

blackbootz  ·  448 days ago  ·  link  ·  

ThatFanficGuy Can I humbly submit this essay by Dave Foster Wallace up as one of the most interesting forays into language and register?

ThatFanficGuy  ·  447 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Thank you. I'll put it on the list.

Would you recommend Dave Foster Wallace as an author of interest otherwise?

blackbootz  ·  447 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I would heartily recommend DFW, and only with a few small reservations. He's stimulating and expressive and inventive with the English language. He's really smart, and he knows it. Sometimes this self-possession leaks into his writing and this rubs some people the wrong way (an example would be his tendency for verbose language where simpler may do, but to me this is a matter of style). But at the same time, he was incredibly hard on himself. He cherished the general reader, striving to respect her intelligence. Some of his writing is the most expressive I've ever read, nailing down thoughts, associations, and feelings that I chalked up as non-communicable, or that would otherwise require some sort of brain interface technology because those thoughts operate at a level beyond words or even pictures.

I roughly recall that KB thinks DFW dazzles with words rather than true insight. But I find DFW an enormous pleasure. He's at times irreverent then sincere, a-million-miles-a-minute and then slow and purposeful. I've never had to use a dictionary more than with Wallace. Or temporarily stop reading just so I could enjoy the sheer power of what I read.

For his fiction, my favorite short story of his Good Old Neon.

Edit to add: the original essay I linked, called Authority and American Usage, ranges all over everything you guys touched on in this thread. I can't imagine a more relevant essay, and from one of my favorite authors, so I felt very compelled to recommend it.