A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Grokking the Jive

Our correspondent Joseph provided the following link to xkcd in response to the comment about a movie portraying 5th century Romans wearing 1st century costumes. It is repeated here for the enjoyment of all:


  1. Yes and no. The function of "old-timey" speech is generally to impart an elevated tone, but that is generally a pastiche from select sources that were particular high points, such as Spenser, Shakespeare, or the KJV Bible. For general period-esque speech, we usually draw on the vernacular of translations from older sources (if we're dealing with a "sword and sandals" story, we might draw on Homer, for instance) or interchange with a more modern idiom that "feels" roughly equivalent, but the audience is conscious of being not of that period, if they gave it any thought.

    In any case, I'm not sure many will deign to remember our particular vernacular. We've done our damnedest make the average discourse read like a brown slurry of dead metaphors, pithy cliches, and stale cultural references. Why anyone would want to mimic that style is beyond me, and no men of letters are left to resuscitate the older elegance.

    1. "no men of letters are left to resuscitate the older elegance."

      Gregory of Tours, right? Historia francorum?

    2. If I grok you right, I was thinking more of some mid-20th century Oxford dons.

  2. I suppose it is called "speaking Scotts" (not Scots as the language, throughout, but Scotts as Scots treated by Sir Walter Scott).

  3. On a similar(-ish) note, I once made my younger sister almost cry by joking that judging by populist narratives in the History of Science, I wouldn't be surprised if in 600 years they'd be saying how Richard Feynmann was almost burned at the stake for daring to suggest apples fell from trees due to string theory.

    I'm sure it won't actually be that bad. Maybe they'll stick to conspiracy theories involving secret agents from NASA coming after him for telling the truth about Challenger...


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