Friday, May 2, 2008

Cinematic Standards and Realily

Speech is a funny thing. I remember in HS, I would either hear these ads on the radio, or read them in the newspaper, that for an easy course of 6 classes, I could expand my vocabulary and earn the respect I deserve.

Yes, it is true that language shouldn't be a mark of social class, but in this modern world it is necessary to know when it's appropriate to maintain a professional tone, and when it's acceptable to speak vulgarly.

The receptionist of the George V hotel in Paris from the movie French Kiss offers a wonderful set of examples of professional language, wherein, despite his obvious discomfort, he does not directly engage in verbal combat with Meg Ryan's character, but rather phrases things as politely as possible. For example:
Concierge: Welcome back, madame, to the George V.
Kate: It's incredible how do you that. The words come out "welcome back", but the meaning is completely different. What's the deal, is that a French thing, or a concierge thing?
C: As madame wishes.
K: [paraphrased] See, you did it again! Do you enjoy being this rude? Because when you do, it makes me REALLY ANGRY!
C: Thank you madame for the fascinating lesson in our cultural differences.
It goes on, but you get the point. Movies on some level try to imitate real life, but on the other hand eliminate some of the things that would actually happen in real life -- slight slips of the tongue, for example. Every native speaker has at some point in their life, corrected themselves in midspeech. And yet, it seems that the image effected by A Few Good Men is shattered (first by Judge Judy), and now by the hearing of Lurita Doan found here.

One would assume that an individual with an MA in renaissance literature, under investigation by a federal agency, could afford to speak a little bit more professionally than Ms. Doan manages to in this video. Perhaps the definition of "candid" needs to be re-examined. Language log already has a nice post on her grammatical blunderings, so I won't talk about that.

But really. What kind of person under investigation would effect a professional air, and then say things like "when it was investigated by you guys..." and " the beginning of the proceedings, we got into a little spat".

On a side note, the voice of Congressman Christopher Shays sounds SO much younger than he looks. If I were to draw a cartoon character for him to voice, I totally would have chosen an adolescent skater or surfer. Nothing like the voice of Christopher Ryan, whose voice is soo addicting. I totally want to sound like that when I'm a professor. :)

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