The Great Vowel Shift--Now a movie, opening in a theatre near you

SnakI Survived the Great Vowel Shift

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The Great Vowel Shift--Now a movie, opening in a theatre near you

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Redigeret: sep 2, 2009, 10:46am

I am shocked to find that people are still talking about the GREAT VOWEL SHIFT!

I'm not a English major required to take linguistics (and this was long ago in 1979 in grad school at NYU), but whenever i discuss that class or the field of linguistics I tend to mention:

1. The Great Vowel Shift, which is, for some strange reason, a vivid label for a linguistic event. It sounds like an organized event or revolution -- like The Hippie Era, Woodstock, The Boston Tea, Party, The Great Vowel Shift.

2. John Barthes' S/Z

3. Our text, The Origins of the English Language, which I despised for its power to bore me silly.

I think the Great Vowel Shift would be a terrific name for a movie. If you saw it listed on a movie marquee, who would be in it and what would it be about?

sep 2, 2009, 12:15pm

Since the history of English has been done to death, I would probably make a history of linguistics since 1970, organized around "Chomsky vs Labov" as the theme (however stretched).

It would be really boring.

sep 2, 2009, 12:32pm

If I saw "The Great Vowel Shift" on a movie marquee, my first question would be "who misspelled 'bowel'?", quickly followed by the second question of "is that an advert for a fiber supplement or something?"

I think it's just a little too difficult for me to imagine that anyone would make a movie about the way language changes. Though, I suppose, if I try hard enough, I could see it being some sort of spy movie involving time travel and a lot of written code.

sep 2, 2009, 3:58pm

How about if we make it "R"-rated and throw in something about labials?

Redigeret: sep 2, 2009, 7:56pm

Oh, I dunno. I can imagine a bit of tension between groups which are on different sides of the shift, and thus, while otherwise speaking the same language with the same vocabulary, can't really quite understand one another. It could even be a comedy. And the costumes and settings could be pretty colorful.

Hey! Isn't that one of your standard plots, in a way?

sep 2, 2009, 10:21pm

>3 keristars: In grad school, I shared an apartment with a Japanese person, and had to explain to her why it was embarrassing when she mispronounced "vowel" using Japanese phonology, where "v" comes out like "b."

>4 Larxol: Not to mention fricatives.

Seriously, though, I confess, once I saw a PBS special on the current American vowel shift happening around the Great Lakes region that I found fascinating. However, I totally acknowledge that I'm a geek.

sep 4, 2009, 5:58pm

If it had been 'Sherlock Holmes and the Great Vowel Shift', in the Basil Rathbone era, there'd have been packed houses even if it had been 'elementary' linguistics!