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Favorite Uses of Language
http://infinitesummer.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=227
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Author:  ruinedmap [ Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:09 am ]
Post subject:  Favorite Uses of Language

There was another thread on the opening paragraph and language thread, but I wanted to do just a general thread to collect everyone's favorite instances of how DFW uses language. Or you can include ones that stood out... or even ones you find irritating. Anyway, I haven't been keeping close track of everything but here are some I've recorded:

PAGE 85 - Here, he seems to start a long sentence with something, and then end with the same thing. It gives the sentence a very satisfying feel:

Quote:
“He’d kept noticing mice scurrying around his room, mice as in rodents, vermin, and when he lodged a complaint and demanded the room be fumigated at once and then began running around hunched and pounding with the heal of a hand-held Florsheim at the mice as they continued to ooze through the room’s electrical outlets and scurry repulsively about, eventually a gentle-faced nurse flanked by large men in custodial whites negotiated a trade of shoes for Librium, predicting that the mild sedative would fumigate what really needed to be fumigated.”


It's not really just a word repeat, but also the repeat and re-animation of the meaning of 'fumigate,' but still the word really brings it back.

PAGE 86 - And here he just seems to be making hay of apostrophes, which made me chuckle a little (because sometimes I have apostrophe dilemmas myself when I write):

Quote:
“The man who for the last three days has been Tiny Ewell’s roommate at St. Mel’s Hospital’s detoxification unit sits in a blue plastic straight-back chair in front of his and Ewell’s room’s window’s air conditioner, watching it.”


Also I'm sure everyone's noticed his forward slash quirk... I did not jot down an actual instance, but it's the same use of the slash that's used in "either/or" I think.

Author:  jasonakramer [ Sat Jul 04, 2009 1:38 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Uses of Language

ruinedmap wrote:
Also I'm sure everyone's noticed his forward slash quirk... I did not jot down an actual instance, but it's the same use of the slash that's used in "either/or" I think.


Lots and lots of "w/r/t"

Author:  mightybeluga [ Mon Jul 06, 2009 4:59 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Uses of Language

Like.

I was talking to my coworker who told me how his elementary school teacher banned the word "like" from the classroom (and then we like went to the store and got like some like clothes) and he never used it again. Despite this basic rule of speech, DFW uses it like all the times. He just throws it in there like a child trying to explain what happened. Any theories on why the editors left it in there or am I just missing something?

Author:  joel [ Mon Jul 06, 2009 6:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Favorite Uses of Language

mightybeluga wrote:
Like.

I was talking to my coworker who told me how his elementary school teacher banned the word "like" from the classroom (and then we like went to the store and got like some like clothes) and he never used it again. Despite this basic rule of speech, DFW uses it like all the times. He just throws it in there like a child trying to explain what happened. Any theories on why the editors left it in there or am I just missing something?


I think that DFW understands how frequently "like" is used in contemporary conversation, and I think that, in explaining things and casually inserting "like," the writing comes off as far more sincere. DFW may insert ridiculously extensive descriptions of chemical substances that none of us understand, but he's also not afraid of being colloquial. I think it adds to this idea of approachability that he's getting at, an ability to engage in conversation that's accepting of dialectical quirks and isn't marred by pretensions.

Of course, it's interesting to consider who, exactly, in the case of third-person narration, is really inserting the "like." I'm not sure who the third-person narrator really is (when it's not assuming the voice of a character), unless it's simply DFW himself.

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