the distinction between the Beadboard Zone and the Plaster Zone.
In commercial and residential buildings from 1880 to 1930, the high-status display areas had plaster walls, while the low-status work areas had beadboard.
In a business, the showroom or front office was plaster, while the repair shop or print shop was beadboard.
In houses and apartments, the front entry and parlor, seen by distinguished visitors, were plaster. The laundry and back porch, seen by maids and lodgers, were beadboard.
While listening as usual to old radio during bedtime, I noticed a parallel distinction in language.
The intro was the display room, literally the entry hall. The announcer always followed EVERY grotesque incomprehensible false "rule" in the grammarrhoid book.
Lie/lay, shall/will, who/whom, always use subjunctive after if
even when it doesn't belong there, never split an infinitive, always use possessive with gerunds even when it doesn't belong there, always pile up prepositions at the start of the sentence even when they aren't really prepositions. Never use do with have. Have you money? No, I haven't money.
Di/a/mond and vac/u/um and car/a/mel are three-syllable words. Pull and push are vulgar, and should be replaced by draw and press.
Plaster zone = grammarrhoid zone.
The story itself was the working zone, where characters were busy manufacturing real entertainment. In the story, characters usually talked the way real people talk.
Beadboard zone = real language zone.
One peculiar exception was lie/lay, which was never "violated" even in the beadboard zone. A semiliterate hoodlum would say "I ain't done nothin wrong. I was just lyin there."
The parallel was triggered by a 1946 episode of 'This is your FBI',
which starts out:
Upon whom should rest the greater weight of guilt
for illicit operations: the criminal operator himself,
or the professing good citizen with his double code of ethics?
Not just plaster. Polished marble with Ionic columns.
was completely unnecessary, even by grammarrhoid standards. The real language version wouldn't be:
Who should the greater weight of guilt rest on?
The real language version is:
Who should bear the greater weight of guilt?
Who is more guilty?
No "preposition" at all, so no "need" to stack it on the nose of the sentence.
Labels: Entertainment, Language update