Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Them as pinched it, done her in.

Cavett and Kapuscinski.

The illicit trade in TimesSelect delivered this, Dick Cavett's rant on pronunciation. It's rather a lot of this,

And what about the various distortions of the easy word "heinous." From lawyers especially you get "hayney-us," "heeny-us" and even "highness." Look, guys and gals, it's easy. It rhymes with a well-known two-syllable word which some might consider not nice, but I guarantee will stick the correct pronunciation in your brain, especially if you compose a silly rhyming couplet. ("His behavior was heinous/ And … etc." — which, by the way is not pronounced "ECK-cetera.")

Unlike the rants about punctuation, grammar and literary style that many of my readers are fond of, this is about oral language. Technological determinist that I am, I assume Cavett cares about how words sound because he was deeply involved in a very aural form of an audio-visual medium, the interview show as it appears on TV.

So are ranters about punctuation, grammar and literary style then more literary characters? Well, consider Amardeep Singh's brief but wildly suggestive thoughts on Ryszard Kapuscinski's contribution to the Feb 5 New Yorker, "Personal History, The Open World." AS's post actually made me go back and read the article, which I'd skipped, because I hate travel writing. But not this travel writing. The important thing is, I would agree with the comments that follow the post,

"the way in which language itself becomes the theme of his visit. It's quite different from other western travelers in India, who have tended to notice the poverty, the traffic chaos, the ancient/exotic beauty, etc."

The city as textual literary signs, not sensory experience. Oh, la.

Though there is, actually, lots of noticing the poverty (from K's communist bloc POV) and exotic sensory experience, but that too is put into perspective.

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2 Comments:

Blogger andyhorbal said...

Is there a backlog of posts in which you elaborate upon why you hate travel writing that you can direct me to? I don't "hate" it myself, but I also tend to avoid reading it. Now I'm mildly interested in the subject...

Oh, and those Korean movie posters do totally rock, don't they?

12:55 PM  
Blogger zp said...

Oh, my remark was completely unprecedented.

10:23 AM  

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