Monday, February 13, 2012

Downton Abbey and the joys of double dipping

So, this was posted on one of my class blogs, where anyone in the classcan mess with it. Here, only Prof. Ready has access.

So, in terms of Downton Abbey, I ended up being a spoiler in class for someone who had not seen the recent episode. I won't do that here, even though there is much to tell after last night's 2 hour episode. That poor woman = take you pick.

According to a piece in this Sunday's Globe, the language in the show is not quite accurate for its era.

Two feminine putdowns heard on the show, “floozy” and “uppity minx,” also strain credulity when voiced by British characters. “Uppity” was another Americanism, used by Joel Chandler Harris in his “Uncle Remus” stories — an equivalent Briticism to describe someone’s haughty air would have been “uppish.”

But all this nitpicking obscures the real linguistic pleasures of the show. The dialogue is often sparkling, with many of the best bons mots given to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess. Fellowes also skillfully uses language to signal gaps between characters — based on class, age, or both — at a time of great social upheaval. In one early episode, the Dowager Countess has to inquire what a “weekend” is; the working week is entirely outside her purview. As the series goes on, and World War I and its aftermath bring the upper and lower classes together, modernity begins to shine through in the speech of the younger characters, even if this leads to the occasional anachronism.

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