How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour etc

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andrew baker
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How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour etc

Post by andrew baker »

Grumpy old man I may be but couldn't there be a group of consultants - simply people over the age of about 25 who could look at scripts for historical dramas - even Endeavour - and just suggest those tiny tiny changes that would make so much difference?

For example, from tonight's Endeavour -

"they gifted the land to the college." What does that mean? In English the word is "gave" - or you could say "made a gift of"

"he loaned the key..." That's "lent the key." Both of these are unnecessary American verbs made from nouns.

In another episode someone said "there you go" which is a 90s equivalent for "there you are."

And a specialist department of the consultancy could have a good time with preserved railways making sure the trains were the right colour - and making sure you didn't see signs saying "next train to Sheffield Park"

Endeavour is much better than these things usually are. Good cars, a 60s Oxford bus. What depresses me is that no one notices tiny things which seem so obvious to old gits like me. I suppose it's also depressing having historical dramas happening in years you can remember.

I'm sure someone can show I'm wrong about these examples.

Well there you go.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by fatcat »

not a bad programme though-

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by JWG »

'Gifted' in the formal sense of making a donation or leaving a bequest to an institution has been around for a long time http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/gift

For all that modern usages can irritate-Orwell wasn't very keen when The Daily Express (?) used 'blitzed' in this manner,but had been expecting it-it seems reasonable that people use the language in this way.

RobinCarmody
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by RobinCarmody »

The problem with anything like this is how to say it while still sounding reasonable. Hitchens Minor's piece on this subject managed to make the line "and then, sooner or later, there are going to be some metres" sound like he was describing the Holocaust.

But at the same time I do think a lot of these things don't get how people actually spoke at the time. A possible factor is that the writers' conception of 1965 has come very largely from the pop side, Radio Caroline speak, which is the only aspect which has influenced their own lives but which at the time only affected a relatively small percentage of the population, almost all young, and assume that its impact and influence was much broader at the time than it actually was. I know it's harder to judge because these periods are out of living memory, but I have a suspicion that period pieces set in the wholly pre-pop-culture era get these things better. Even if they don't, nobody outside academia really knows. Whereas I think what is happening here is not only that we know these things better because it's still in living memory, but that the writers think that the 1965 they know about - the one that laid the foundation stones and created the fabric of everything that then seemed shocking and jarring but is now completely unremarkable and the basis of almost everyone's lives - was the only 1965. They know that people will have spoken differently in (say) the 1930s, when writing a period drama set in that era, but 1965 seems too "real" to them - in that there are still aspects of its popular culture that seep through today - to imagine the fundamentally different spoken language that did, in fact, still exist then (there are people round here who would barely have reached adulthood in 1965 who speak in a language so different from the Basildon/LA hybrid of the young girls I go riding with that in past times they might never have overlapped within a human lifetime). The boomers universalised their own 1965 and institutionalised it when they took over the reigns of power, and much of the generation below has imbibed that partial reading (Dominic Sandbrook, for all his faults, has done much to correct this), so they imagine - through a misunderstanding of one of the two Philip Larkin lines (not even whole poems) they know - a sudden leap where "everyone" spoke like either Celia Johnson or Stanley Holloway or Ralph Wightman one year, and as people do now the next. But any credible historical sense or skill, which I suspect they don't have, would surely tell them that this cannot be the case - senior figures in police, academia etc. in 1965 will have been around in the 1930s, so why shouldn't they be portrayed speaking as characters in 1930s period dramas would speak, rather than as if they had been influenced by a change that was already taking shape, but which most of them were deeply wary of and resistant towards?

For a comparison that may be instructive here, I'm only 32, but I have no memory whatsoever of "gifted" as a synonym for "gave", or "loaned" in any sense, being used even in my childhood (and I had a good ear for these things even then). In the latter case, it would never have occurred to me that there was a past tense other than "lent". I know that personal experiences can mislead here - for me as a child, "learned" only meant "of great learning", pronounced "learn-ed", but I know it was common as a past tense in written British English long beforehand - but based on a comparison between what I heard around me then and what I hear around me now, I think I can say with some authority that the (to me, mundane and utilitarian) -ed past tenses are more common than even in 1990 and the (to me, much more poetic and resonant) -t past tenses less so, as are verbs created out of nouns and certain words being excluded (i.e. "commit to" rather than "commit yourself to" and "protest" rather than "protest against"). I can sense a strong difference in the air around me even from a time far more recent and reachable than 1965, so I could hardly doubt that the change over the longer period has been greater still. I also live outside a major city, in an overwhelmingly white area, and so know that it isn't "immigrants" who have caused it - the change between the accents of a 70-year-old Portlander and a 20-year-old Portlander is at least as great as that between a 70-year-old East Londoner and a 20-year-old white East Londoner. So I think it's reasonable to suggest that a lot of these things don't get it right; what I tried to do in my first paragraph here is explain the underlying reasons which are usually missed out.

(And before anyone says it, I know the -ed past tenses were used in Britain before the -t past tenses were adopted under German influences: that's precisely (in part) what I like about the -t past tenses; they make me imagine the 20th Century we should have had.)

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by GarethR »

andrew baker wrote:and just suggest those tiny tiny changes that would make so much difference?
So much difference to whom?

Mothy
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Mothy »

Shouldn't this be in the Current Television section, as it seems to be more about dramas written now?

I've heard, although don't watch it so couldn't confirm, that Downton Abbey has some very jarring anachronisms in its dialogue, whether terms or figures of speech.

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Simon Coward
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon Coward »

"gifted" in the legal sense mentioned by JWG is certainly a term I'm familiar with and not just one that I've seen become more common in recent years. And as that was the sense used in the programme I can't argue with it at all.

"loaned" is (or at least was) undoubtedly less common than "lent" around the period in which Endeavour is set. I appreciate that written and spoken English are not necessarily the same, but a search on ukpressonline covering 1954 to 1964 shows 292 instances of "loaned the" but 4786 of "lent the". The majority, but by no means all, of the former seem to relate to money, so perhaps that too comes from usage within the legal profession.
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andrew baker
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by andrew baker »

I really shouldn't have posted this - in the wrong forum too. I really like Endeavour - a first rate series. I had enjoyed a nice glass of Famous Grouse with it.

Mind you I didn't mention the notice on the wall that said "authorized" rather than "authorised"!

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by David Plaice »

andrew baker wrote:Mind you I didn't mention the notice on the wall that said "authorized" rather than "authorised"!
See http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2011/03/ize-or-ise/
OED Blog wrote: There’s a widespread belief that these spellings belong only to American English, and that British English should use the ‘-ise’ forms instead, i.e. realise, finalise, and organise. In fact, the ‘-ize’ forms have been in use in English spelling since the 15th century: they didn’t originate in American use, even though they are now standard in US English. The first example for the verb organize in the Oxford English Dictionary is from around 1425.

In British English, it doesn’t matter which spelling convention is chosen: neither is right or wrong, and neither is ‘more right’ than the other.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon Coward »

andrew baker wrote:Mind you I didn't mention the notice on the wall that said "authorized" rather than "authorised"!
Perfectly correct. I don't know whether it's changed more recently, but until at least the 1980s, the 'z' spelling of this and similar words used to be given as the primary spelling by the Oxford English Dictionary - and by primary I mean that these words were listed under their 'z' spellings with the 's' variations noted as an alternative.

The Times continued to prefer the 'z' spellings of these words until the last 15 years or so (I'm sure I could look this up) and a search there for "organise" / "organize" from the 1950s to the 1980s shows the latter beating the former by about 10 to 1 with the bulk of the 's' variants coming in advertisements where editorial preferences wouldn't hold sway.

I might also point out that Philip Mackie's rather wonderful 1972 series was called "The Organization". With a 'z'.
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Ross
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Ross »

GarethR wrote: So much difference to whom?
Not so much difference, but enough of a difference to not pull a percentage of the audience out of the drama with needless anachronisms.

In his 1970's Observer column, Clive James mentioned this sort of thing a few times.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon Coward »

One thing that struck me was the Master of the College's use of the verb "refute" to mean "to deny (strongly)", when in 1965 it would surely only be used with its more traditional meaning of "to disprove".
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by JWG »

It could be argued that drama is life with the boring bits removed.Though I grant you that there are some dramatists who seem to inject extra ennui.Most of us wouldn't be very keen on watching events on screen unfold in real time with all the longeurs kept in.Suddenly,nothing happened...
If you've ever recorded yourself speaking with family and friends you might have noticed that on the playback you've all got much thicker accents than you have in real life.Your dialogue is less sparkling,your use of slang more pronounced.
To a large extent historical speech has been filtered by intermediaries before it reaches us.At the very least,I suspect that swearing wasn't actually invented in 1964.
What I'm trying to say is that we can only make a stab at reproducing contemporary usage(s) in historical dramas-unless we want to base our work on recordings made by those interested in such matters as word frequency in speech.I'm sure it's better,at times,to inject an anachronism in order to enhance clarity or make the audience feel more involved.I hate to think what 'I Claudius' would sound like in Latin!

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon36 »

Simon Coward wrote:
andrew baker wrote:Mind you I didn't mention the notice on the wall that said "authorized" rather than "authorised"!
Perfectly correct. I don't know whether it's changed more recently, but until at least the 1980s, the 'z' spelling of this and similar words used to be given as the primary spelling by the Oxford English Dictionary - and by primary I mean that these words were listed under their 'z' spellings with the 's' variations noted as an alternative.

The Times continued to prefer the 'z' spellings of these words until the last 15 years or so (I'm sure I could look this up) and a search there for "organise" / "organize" from the 1950s to the 1980s shows the latter beating the former by about 10 to 1 with the bulk of the 's' variants coming in advertisements where editorial preferences wouldn't hold sway.

I might also point out that Philip Mackie's rather wonderful 1972 series was called "The Organization". With a 'z'.
Fittingly, in the Morse episode Ghost in the Machine Morse insists that apolog-ISE is illiterate since the OED spells all -ize words with a z!

I'd argue with the claim about "there you go" though. I can't say that's "a 90s equivalent of there you are". I've been saying it since the early 80s and it turns up regularly in dramas from the 70s. I can't quite believe it wasn't around in the 60s. And even if it wasn't, doesn't mean someone didn't just say it off the cuff at the time.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Clive »

I think this sort of technical accuracy is important, a little bit nerdy but still important. I am currently reading a first hand personal account of the Romanian Revolution in 1989 which makes lots of dubious historical comments such as about one of the players "....having a brand new digital widescreen TV" in 1989 !!!???

I know most readers would pass over these sorts of things, but when reading a narrative or watching an historical film or TV drama, these sorts of things stand out to me and especially in historical recreations, it makes you start to wonder how accurate the rest of the narrative is.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by GarethR »

Ross wrote:
GarethR wrote: So much difference to whom?
Not so much difference, but enough of a difference to not pull a percentage of the audience out of the drama with needless anachronisms.
Realistically, we're talking about a *miniscule* percentage of the audience, primarily composed of impossibly nitpicky rivet-counters. They're really not a priority of anyone working in TV production, and they shouldn't be either. But we've been over this more than once. Accuracy matters in certain instances, and not at all in many others.

I just realised I missed this one:
andrew baker wrote: "In another episode someone said "there you go" which is a 90s equivalent for "there you are."
90s? Hardly. We were using "there you go" in that sense when I was at primary school in the 70s, and I'm sure the usage was far from freshly-minted then.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon Coward »

GarethR wrote:90s? Hardly. We were using "there you go" in that sense when I was at primary school in the 70s, and I'm sure the usage was far from freshly-minted then.
You may be right about it hardly being new, but I do recall it gained popularity/currency in the 1970s once it became familiar as Sam McCloud's "catchphrase" in the eponymous NBC Mystery Movies.
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Spiny Norman »

GarethR wrote:
Ross wrote:
GarethR wrote: So much difference to whom?
Not so much difference, but enough of a difference to not pull a percentage of the audience out of the drama with needless anachronisms.
Realistically, we're talking about a *miniscule* percentage of the audience, primarily composed of impossibly nitpicky rivet-counters. They're really not a priority of anyone working in TV production, and they shouldn't be either. But we've been over this more than once. Accuracy matters in certain instances, and not at all in many others.
Also, writers and directors, like many people, will not want to hear that they're wrong, or will deliberately ignore history if they think they can improve the looks/drama/effect?
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon36 »

People speak differently in different eras and whilst I admired the accuracy of Upstairs Downstairs (the original) in which arguments and research went in to "should it be sweet or desert" there is also a more general sense in which drama is communicating to a present day audience. If someone in a period drama said "whatever" in the modern sense it would clang, but I think the examples here are very piffling.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by SgtPepper »

In Heartbeat Gina was always saying "Oh right". I'm sure that people saying that as their only contribution and believing they're joining in a conversation was a product of the 90's not the 60's.

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Post by GarethR »

Spiny Norman wrote: Also, writers and directors, like many people, will not want to hear that they're wrong, or will deliberately ignore history if they think they can improve the looks/drama/effect?
Absolutely. As someone else pointed out recently in a different thread about the same subject, there's nothing new about this, it goes right back to the golden era of Hollywood. It's effective communication to the audience that matters, not accuracy so slavish that it will only be noticed by a handful of nitpickers.
SgtPepper wrote:In Heartbeat Gina was always saying "Oh right". I'm sure that people saying that as their only contribution and believing they're joining in a conversation was a product of the 90's not the 60's
And I'm equally sure you're wrong, because it was happening when I was at school.

Out of interest, do the people who complain about perceived anachronisms in turns of phrase in programmes about recent history get equally wound up when Shakespeare is performed using modern pronunciation (and I do mean pronunciation and not language)? An Elizabethan hearing Shakespeare's original scripts spoken with modern pronunciation would struggle to comprehend them, so unless you make the effort to see a Shakespeare play presented in Early Modern English, aka "Original Pronunciation" (and it takes real effort to follow because so many of the words sound so different to what we're used to today), what you're hearing is completely period-inaccurate.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Spiny Norman »

GarethR wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: Also, writers and directors, like many people, will not want to hear that they're wrong, or will deliberately ignore history if they think they can improve the looks/drama/effect?
Absolutely. As someone else pointed out recently in a different thread about the same subject, there's nothing new about this, it goes right back to the golden era of Hollywood. It's effective communication to the audience that matters, not accuracy so slavish that it will only be noticed by a handful of nitpickers.
Might have been me talking about Cecil B. DeMille.
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Simon Coward »

GarethR wrote:Out of interest, do the people who complain about perceived anachronisms in turns of phrase in programmes about recent history get equally wound up when Shakespeare is performed using modern pronunciation (and I do mean pronunciation and not language)? An Elizabethan hearing Shakespeare's original scripts spoken with modern pronunciation would struggle to comprehend them, so unless you make the effort to see a Shakespeare play presented in Early Modern English, aka "Original Pronunciation" (and it takes real effort to follow because so many of the words sound so different to what we're used to today), what you're hearing is completely period-inaccurate.
It's a fair point, but not quite the same thing.

A more reasonable parallel would be - do or did people complain about Shakespeare's use of what was, to him, contemporary English, in plays which even then were set in the past? Did people moan, "Oh, they never used that turn of phrase in Henry VIII's day!"?
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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by SgtPepper »

SgtPepper wrote:In Heartbeat Gina was always saying "Oh right". I'm sure that people saying that as their only contribution and believing they're joining in a conversation was a product of the 90's not the 60's
GarethR wrote:And I'm equally sure you're wrong, because it was happening when I was at school.
Oh right! (Tee hee). Maybe it was a regional thing that gradually spread. I went to school in the 70's and started work in the early 80's and never came across people who would just say "Oh right" to everything in a different tone of voice.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Roll ACR »

There were certainly some howlers in "Downton Abbey".... But then anyone with any intellect realises that's just scripts from "Acorn Antiques" re-made with feature film production values. "Drama" for half-wits. On the occasions when I'm forced to sit through it by family or friends, I regard it as slightly surreal comedy.

I must confess that when I hear British people on TV or radio saying "either" or "neither" with the first syllable as "ee" rather than the proper "aye" I do repeat the word very loudly with the correct British pronunciation. When news reporters speak of "veterans" who are patently nothing of the kind....

I caught my sister singing the alphabet to my nephew the other week and she trilled "zee" at the end. I went up like a rocket and swiftly informed my nephew that his Mummy was being silly and it's "zed".

It's all very pedantic I know but I just can't help myself.

I'm all for languages evolving. However, English really does seem to be evolving to suit idiots. The meanings of words change over time, syntax changes and languages evolve. I just object to the extent to which it seems to be evolving to accommodate fools.

Instead of correcting Mrs. Malaprop's mis-use, we alter the meaning of the word to accommodate her ignorance.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by GarethR »

Simon Coward wrote: A more reasonable parallel would be - do or did people complain about Shakespeare's use of what was, to him, contemporary English, in plays which even then were set in the past? Did people moan, "Oh, they never used that turn of phrase in Henry VIII's day!"?
I doubt it somehow. In fact, Shakespeare is notable among Elizabethan playwrights for using forms of words that would have been considered very modern, like "goes" instead of "goeth", even though he set all his plays well before his own times. Of course, if you want to be *really* pedantic, many of his plays aren't set in England so they wouldn't have been speaking English anyway...

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by andrew baker »

"Whatever" as one word phrase, or whatever, is an interesting one. I can date almost exactly the first time anyone said it to me - in late 1991. It had been around a bit but I was shocked as in one word it expresses absolute couldn't-care-less-ness and self absorption, if that's the phrase I'm seeking.

Which reminds me that I am reading P G Wodehouse. Just try to relate Bertie Wooster to any actual period in history. You feel it's sort of 20s but there are plenty of post WW2 references in later books - the last was written in 1974. Wodehouse said the language was actually Edwardian.

It's fiction. It's better not to worry.

After all you can start worrying about anachronisms in the Bible, Old or New Testaments. When exactly was Quirinius governor in Syria???

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by Mothy »

Shakespeare's plays weren't intended to be written or staged as naturalistic recreations of their settings, so the parallels with most TV programmes aren't very strong there.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by GarethR »

That doesn't alter the fact that they were written to be spoken with the pronunciation of the time, which is why some of Shakespeare's rhymes don't seem to work very well (or at all) to our ears. Pronounced as per Early Modern English, the words *do* rhyme.

If it matters that a character in a TV drama set in the 60s shouldn't use turns of phrase that supposedly didn't exist in the 60s, then surely it matters that Shakespeare should be pronounced the way it was intended to be spoken in the seventeenth century.

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Re: How about a Mausoleum Consultancy service - Endeavour et

Post by BrentCleever21 »

On a related note, I have been enjoying reading 'Murder on the Home Front' by Molly LeFebure, dealing with her time as assistant to pathologist Professor Keith Simpson. The paperback has a strapline about "soon to be a TV series from the makers of Downton Abbey" and I see the TV show will be screened on Thursday.
Molly makes the occasional judgemental remark in the book about the lifestyles of victims and perpetrators. Not far removed from "PC David Copperfield's" modern-day remarks about "the underclass". It will be interesting to see if any of those attitudes permeate through to the TV show. I'm not sure I agree with or support all the views she expresses, but it would be novel and authentic to hear the character express those views. Somehow, I suspect the TV show will gloss over those aspects, but I will wait and see.
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