Saturday, October 19, 2013

Backache, Scotch and Chickpeas (Breakfast with the Linguists)

My breakfast of Backache, Scotch and Chickpeas is, according to Richard Lanham, a paratactic list like Veni, vidi, vici, i.e., a list that makes the reader do the work of figuring out how its elements connect. Deborah Tannen would point out how the three elements run parallel in containing k sounds and in being two-syllable nouns, “and” being the linguistic equivalent of Hamburger Helper. Roy Peter Clark tells us that once a list runs to more than three elements, it starts feeling endless, whereas trinities – like Carrie-Anne Moss’s adorably fucked-up little sweaters in The Matrix – do the trick. Slainte!

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