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Old 11-08-2017, 05:09 PM   #1
cuckoldbob
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The written vs spoken word.

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Old 11-08-2017, 06:15 PM   #2
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Writing dialogue to be read has to be unlike what you would hear in a real conversation. If you transcribe exactly what people say the speech would include interjections, pauses, interruptions, incomplete sentences and meaningless words.

To make dialogue seem right, it has to be cleaned up and slightly more formal than it would be in real life.

But in posts on a forum such as those on Literotica? We should remember that US citizens are less than 50% of Literotica's users. Most of the rest will understand American English at a basic level but some of the references that mean something to Americans might be misconstrued, not understood or just WTF? to others.

Some years ago an academic tried to list all the concepts that were common to all 'educated' Americans. The list included 'pleading the fifth', 'filibustering', 'electoral college' and so on. The total came to over 2,000 concepts. He then circulated the lists around some US universities asking other academics if they agreed. Fewer than a quarter of the terms on his list were accepted and another 3,000 or so were added.

The conclusion? Not all educated Americans share the same concepts.

Back in the 1940s a British Publisher produced a book listing all the books that an 'educated English gentleman' should have read. (Sorry Ladies. It WAS the 1940s!). The list was 5,000 books, essential reading for any gentleman (or lady) who considered themselves educated. It included the Greek and Roman classics such as the Iliad and the Aeneid, Plato, Cicero etc. Modern works included works by French, German, Spanish, Italian and Russian authors.

IF every educated English gentleman and lady had read those 5,000 books then they would have a range of concepts in common. But even in the 1940s most had NOT read 5,000 books, and now the list would be very different.

It is surprising, not that we have misunderstandings, but that we communicate reasonably well despite our different experiences and knowledge.
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Old 11-08-2017, 06:30 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by cuckoldbob View Post
It does occur to me that the written word can be so easily misunderstood, as far as intent goes.

What think you?
Yeah, there's plain English, reading the words written, reading between the lines, reading the unwritten words. Then there's satire, sarcasm, taking the piss, taking the mickey, droll, dry humour which nobody gets, kindred spirits, written eye winks, etc... etc...

And that's just Australians. Add in the poms, the yanks, the bloody canucks and kiwis, south efricans too - it's a wonder the rest of the world can figure out what the fuck we're talkng about half the time.

So yes, writing it down can be tricky; but you know, after a while, people sort it all out and can see when regulars here are in a good mood or when the meds have gone wrong...
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Old 11-08-2017, 06:50 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by cuckoldbob View Post
I'm sure most do notice that the spoken word, particularly in person or over skype
or whatever video medium, is more easily understood as to its intent than the written word.


It does occur to me that the written word can be so easily misunderstood, as far as intent goes. (EDIT: I say Samurai swords only because that is what Joe Public sees upon the sight of a katana.)

What think you?
To my mind, any words can be misunderstood or misconstrued.
This probably why legal phases are 'heavy'. There must be no alternative interpretation that that intended by the author.
It's down to the speaker /performer to get the word right !
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Old 11-08-2017, 06:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oggbashan View Post
But in posts on a forum such as those on Literotica? We should remember that US citizens are less than 50% of Literotica's users. Most of the rest will understand American English at a basic level but some of the references that mean something to Americans might be misconstrued, not understood or just WTF? to others.
Indeed. I think people who participate on an international forum like this tend to become familiar with many of these references, but not all.

Spoken English is sometimes easier, since you may have non-verbal cues to aid understanding. But sometimes accidental confusion arises ("pants", "fanny", "knock me up" mean very different things depending on where you are!) and sometimes the confusion is deliberate. "Bless your heart" is often used as a veiled insult in the US South, for instance.
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Old 11-08-2017, 07:34 PM   #6
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Old 11-08-2017, 08:24 PM   #7
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Really? "Bless your heart" can be taken as an insult?
There are people more southern than I, so maybe someone can correct me. I think "Bless your heart" becomes an insult when it's used sarcastically. It implies that you just did something stupid and/or incompetent. It's a veiled sarcasm, so not necessarily obvious.

My youngest daughter moved to the heart of Alabama when she was a few months out of high school. It was a steep learning curve for a girl from the desert southwest--and for her parents.
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Old 11-08-2017, 09:51 PM   #8
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"Bless your little heart," spoken any way, can be taken as a put down in my neighborhood.
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:08 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by sr71plt View Post
"Bless your little heart," spoken any way, can be taken as a put down in my neighborhood.
"Oh, bless..." - with appropriate tone of voice - is an affectionate put down here in Oz; not malicious, more indulgent. A naive or gauche act is usually involved.
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:09 PM   #10
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Really? "Bless your heart" can be taken as an insult?
Yes indeed. Earlier this year when a certain politician visited Nashville, a crowd of protesters started chanting "Bless your heart", and they didn't mean it as a compliment.

By my understanding, it used to be more of a veiled insult; a Southerner could say "bless your heart" to a Northerner, and other Southerners would understand what she meant, but the Northerner would mistake it for a compliment. These days it's becoming better known, so I assume people are coming up with new insults that I don't know about.
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:11 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by electricblue66 View Post
"Oh, bless..." - with appropriate tone of voice - is an affectionate put down here in Oz; not malicious, more indulgent. A naive or gauche act is usually involved.
I think Australian vernacular is more likely to go the other way - things that sound insulting but are actually affectionate. Somebody could write a book about all the different shades of "bastard".
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Old 11-08-2017, 10:20 PM   #12
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Strangely I never found any of these subtleties while in Oz. It all seemed very straightforward, you don't smimeball or you get punched.

When I took an Oz mate to London it showed. "Don't you have any cold beer in this pisshole?"

Somebody said summat slimy to him. It was a really nasty snotty comment, from a guy in a pinstripe suit straight off the tube. One of those freaks that can't say their letter R. They sound like a W.

Can't recall exactly, something like "Beer swilling yobs fwom your countwy I'm surpwised you can tell the diffewence." A slimy put down like that or words to the effect of.

"Who asked you you fucking bastard?"

The tables went everywhere, heh heh!

I'd rather have a straight smack in the gob than have to slippery slime dealing with oily greasy put downs like that. That's my point, you see. Too many trolls are getting away with it behind their PC screens and not getting smacked in the mouth. Yes, that's my solution, and it works better too.

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Old 11-09-2017, 03:54 AM   #13
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I didn't say he beat his wife.
7 words. A simple sentence. But by changing what word you put the inflection on, the entire meaning changes drastically.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

7 different meanings out of a 7 word sentence just by changing the inflection. It's all about context.
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Old 11-09-2017, 06:39 AM   #14
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7 words. A simple sentence. But by changing what word you put the inflection on, the entire meaning changes drastically.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

7 different meanings out of a 7 word sentence just by changing the inflection. It's all about context.
And the different meanings are difficult to convey in plain text on a screen. It can be done. You have just demonstrated that. But authors can assume that the reader will read the statement one way. Murphy's Law will ensure that if another meaning is possible, the reader will see that, not the author's intention.
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:26 PM   #15
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7 words. A simple sentence. But by changing what word you put the inflection on, the entire meaning changes drastically.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

7 different meanings out of a 7 word sentence just by changing the inflection. It's all about context.
I didn't say he beat his wife. (Must have been someone else who said it.)

I didn't say he beat his wife. (It wasn't me who said that.)

I didn't say he beat his wife. (I think someone else beat her.)

I didn't say he beat his wife. (He beat someone else's wife.)
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:28 PM   #16
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And the different meanings are difficult to convey in plain text on a screen. It can be done. You have just demonstrated that. But authors can assume that the reader will read the statement one way. Murphy's Law will ensure that if another meaning is possible, the reader will see that, not the author's intention.
It pretty easy to convey the differences in meaning in this example in a Lit. story. Putting the stress word in italics should convey it.
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:52 PM   #17
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It pretty easy to convey the differences in meaning in this example in a Lit. story. Putting the stress word in italics should convey it.
How do you usually convey a suddenly raised voice? I've used caps in the past but was told not to. On the other hand I didn't want to write something that described that one word emphasis. As in "screw you, ASSHOLE!" Something like that.
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Old 11-09-2017, 12:59 PM   #18
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No, you're not supposed to full cap a word. I see no reason not to at Lit. for this purpose. The meaning would convey and standard usage only gives you italics or textual context to do the job.
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:00 PM   #19
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7 words. A simple sentence. But by changing what word you put the inflection on, the entire meaning changes drastically.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

I didn't say he beat his wife.

7 different meanings out of a 7 word sentence just by changing the inflection. It's all about context.
That's one of the joys or annoyances (depending on how you look at it) of converting a play or screenplay into dialog. The actor may have one interpretation, and the director another. And the playwright, if he or she is involved in the production, may have a third that the first two disagreed with.

Old Bill Shakespeare hasn't been around for a while, but every production of his plays runs across this situation. What did he mean? Is it better the way he seems to have meant it to be, or can I, the actor, bring a new dimension to the role by twisting it a little? That's why I enjoy many different performances of a play, and don't really mind Hollywood making remakes of movies, if they can enlarge the interpretation a little.
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Old 11-09-2017, 01:09 PM   #20
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That's one of the joys or annoyances (depending on how you look at it) of converting a play or screenplay into dialog. The actor may have one interpretation, and the director another. And the playwright, if he or she is involved in the production, may have a third that the first two disagreed with.

Old Bill Shakespeare hasn't been around for a while, but every production of his plays runs across this situation. What did he mean? Is it better the way he seems to have meant it to be, or can I, the actor, bring a new dimension to the role by twisting it a little? That's why I enjoy many different performances of a play, and don't really mind Hollywood making remakes of movies, if they can enlarge the interpretation a little.
True, but plays are easier to control than a short story is. In a short story, either the author nails meaning down by spelling it out in the text or the reader is left completely in control of interpretation. In a play, the playwright can pin it down with a direction note that isn't seen by the audience as a reader would see in a written short story. And there is a hierarchy of interpretation right. The director has authority over the actor's delivery of the line. Of course the audience member has the power to snore through the line delivery, but an awake audience member would have to fight to counter the inflection the actor gave it (under the director's authority on how to deliver the line and the playwright's note on what he/she would prefer).
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Old 11-09-2017, 02:22 PM   #21
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...

Old Bill Shakespeare hasn't been around for a while, but every production of his plays runs across this situation. What did he mean? Is it better the way he seems to have meant it to be, or can I, the actor, bring a new dimension to the role by twisting it a little? That's why I enjoy many different performances of a play, and don't really mind Hollywood making remakes of movies, if they can enlarge the interpretation a little.
The Globe theatre in London did an experimental production of Shakespeare as his words would have been spoken in his time. It revealed puns and innuendoes that are not appreciated in modern English.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPlpphT7n9s

It took considerable work by a number of academics to make certain that the production was in the spoken English of Shakespeare's time. But it was possible.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:14 PM   #22
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How do you usually convey a suddenly raised voice? I've used caps in the past but was told not to. On the other hand I didn't want to write something that described that one word emphasis. As in "screw you, ASSHOLE!" Something like that.
I usually do it this way...

"Screw you Asshole!" she shouted the last word loudly so everyone could hear.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:32 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChloeTzang View Post
How do you usually convey a suddenly raised voice? I've used caps in the past but was told not to. On the other hand I didn't want to write something that described that one word emphasis. As in "screw you, ASSHOLE!" Something like that.
I usually do it this way...

"Screw you Asshole!" she shouted the last word loudly so everyone could hear.
It's not like I'm an expert, but Cloe's approach with capitals works for me. The other suggestion, and in particular "the last word loudly" seems too forced to me.
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Old 11-09-2017, 05:52 PM   #24
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How do you usually convey a suddenly raised voice? I've used caps in the past but was told not to. On the other hand I didn't want to write something that described that one word emphasis. As in "screw you, ASSHOLE!" Something like that.
I'd give context and emphasis in the speech tag:

"Screw you, asshole," he muttered under his breath.

is obviously different to:

"Screw you, asshole," he shouted. "Fuck. You."
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