Monday, August 24, 2015

Shane comes to Deadwood

My mind is elsewhere so my thoughts are fractured, just a couple of stray thoughts for today. Those expecting coherence suck cock by choice. Been watching Deadwood lately. One of the hallmarks of the show is its use of language both profane and Shakespearean. Geoffrey Nunberg wrote an article called "Obcenity Rap" in which he details the ways that Deadwood's profanity is historically inaccurate.
"The words those "Deadwood" characters would actually have used had religious overtones rather than sexual or scatalogical ones."
Been picking my way through Shane by Jack Schaefer (dig it so far but find I like his later work far better) and came across a piece of dialog that reminded me of Nunberg's line.
"Horses! Great jumping Jehosaphat! No! We started this with manpower and, by Godfrey, we'll finish it with manpower!"
I imagine that this character's speech pattern is what Nunberg was referring to. Imagining Al's dialog being more historically accurate makes me smile but not as much as this does.


Dana King said...

Two things:
1. I doubt anyone in the history of oral communication spoke the way Schaefer character did in that example.
2. Even if they did, it means nothing to us. Even if Deadwood's language is not historically authentic, it creates the aura of verisimilitude that is required to allow the view to suspend disbelief. Schaefer's dialog would actually draw more attention to itself, in a more jarring way.

Milch did it right.

Brian Lindenmuth said...

Don't get me wrong, I side with Milch here. That the language of Deadwood serves its era well in being removed from and different then ours. But reading one did make me think of the other. The Shaefer dialog reminds me of Stumpy from Rio Bravo, or at least thats the voice that's in my head when I read it.

Dana King said...

Sorry, I wasn't as clear as I should have been. I agreed with you, ut, reading my comment again, I can see it doesn't really come off that way.