07 Laurie-Fry: Concerning Language (comedy)

We recommend the following material to upper intermediate, or advanced students of English, or to anybody who is interested in a great bit of comedy (on the YouTube here). While watching the video, you can read the transcript below. Just to make everything clear. 

Képtalálat a következőre: „concerning language fry and laurie”


Laurie So let’s talk instead about flexibility of language – um, linguistic elasticity, if you’d like.
Fry Yes, I think that I’ve said earlier that our language, English …
Laurie As spoken by us.
Fry As we speak it, yes, certainly, defines us. We are defined by our language, if you will.
Laurie [to screen] Hello. We’re talking about language.
Fry Perhaps I can illustrate my point. Let me at least try. Here is a question: um…
Laurie What is it?
Fry Oh! Um… my question is this: is our language – English – capable… is English capable of sustaining demagoguery?
Laurie Demagoguery?
Fry  Demagoguery.
Laurie And by “demagoguery” you mean…
Fry By “demagoguery” I mean demagoguery…
Laurie I thought so.
Fry I mean highly-charged oratory, persuasive whipping-up rhetoric. Listen to me, listen to me. If Hitler had been British, would we, under similar circumstances, have been moved, charged up, fired up by his inflammatory speeches, or would we simply have laughed? Is English too ironic to sustain Hitlerian styles? Would his language simply have rung false in our ears?
Laurie [to screen] We’re talking about things ringing false in our ears.
Fry May I compartmentalize – I hate to, but may I, may I: is our language a function of our British cynicism, tolerance, resistance to false emotion, humour, and so on, or do those qualities come extrinsically – extrinsically – from the language itself? It’s a chicken and egg problem.
Laurie [to screen] We’re talking about chickens, we’re talking about eggs.
Fry Um… let me start a leveret here: there’s language and there’s speech. Um, there’s chess and there’s a game of chess. Mark the difference for me. Mark it please.
Laurie [to screen] We’ve moved on to chess.
Fry Imagine a piano keyboard, eh, 88 keys, only 88 and yet, and yet, hundreds of new melodies, new tunes, new harmonies are being composed upon hundreds of different keyboards every day in Dorset alone. Our language, tiger, our language: hundreds of thousands of available words, frillions of legitimate new ideas, so that I can say the following sentence and be utterly sure that nobody has ever said it before in the history of human communication: “Hold the newsreader’s nose squarely, waiter, or friendly milk will countermand my trousers.” Perfectly ordinary words, but never before put in that precise order. A unique child delivered of a unique mother.
Laurie [to screen]
Fry And yet, oh, and yet, we, all of us, spend all our days saying to each other the same things time after weary time: “I love you,” “Don’t go in there,” “Get out,” “You have no right to say that,” “Stop it,” “Why should I,” “That hurt,” “Help,” “Marjorie is dead.” Hmm? Surely, it’s a thought to take out for cream tea on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Laurie So, to you, language is more than just a means of communication?
Fry Oh, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is, of course it is. Language is my mother, my father, my husband, my brother, my sister, my whore, my mistress, my check-out girl… language is a complimentary moist lemon-scented cleansing square or handy freshen-up wipette. Language is the breath of God. Language is the dew on a fresh apple, it’s the soft rain of dust that falls into a shaft of morning light as you pluck from a old bookshelf a half-forgotten book of erotic memoirs. Language is the creak on a stair, it’s a spluttering match held to a frosted pane, it’s a half-remembered childhood birthday party, it’s the warm, wet, trusting touch of a leaking nappy, the hulk of a charred Panzer, the underside of a granite boulder, the first downy growth on the upper lip of a Mediterranean girl. It’s cobwebs long since overrun by an old Wellington boot.
Laurie [to screen] Night-night.

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