i've been thinking about the artistry of writing. i like knowing we have freedom in expressing ourselves with the English language. i can change around my syntax as i choose, to suit my mood. sometimes it's quite incorrect from a strict grammatical point of view. but i can convey age, attitude, emotion, even cultural outlook, through phrasing and vocabulary choice.
that's not to say i believe we should abandon the rules of good English. indeed, i believe that it's acceptable for me, for writers, to consciously break the rules only after they've learned them well. the key is to know when and how much to stray from traditionally correct usage. when people merely use the language poorly, it's awkward and/or irritating at best, and just incomprehensible at worst.
one of the reasons i enjoy the writing of TV shows such as Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Gilmore Girls is that the dialogue is so fun and interesting. but i have a feeling that 20 years ago it would have been considered silly and hard to understand, instead of smart and a bit avant garde.
okay, avant garde here, an exchange between Lorelai and Rory, when mom came to rescue daughter from a wild party:
"That backpack is permanently scarred. That backpack is Zelda Fitzgerald."
"Well, Zelda's coming home."
"Did they bring the paddy wagon?"
"Yeah, but then we snuck out the back of the speakeasy and headed straight for the Algonquin."
"How was Benchley?"
that just cracked me up for days. you say you don't know any real mothers and daughters who talk that way? first, yes, you do. second, there just oughta be more, and that's kinda the point here.
my mother never understood the attraction of mid 30s-mid 40s "screwball" comedies such as His Girl Friday starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. they used rapid-fire speech and a lot of slang. she preferred the drier, but still clever dialogue used by William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series. i like them both, and also appreciate the middle ground between Loy and Russell found in Irene Dunne characters. best of all, i think we can thank them, a bit, when listening to the dialogue of some of the best current comedic dramas.
(interested in screwball comedy? this list is really a great overview, and i can personally recommend nearly every name mentioned.)