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Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

100 Replies to “Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language”

  • That ending… man I thought I was the only one whose eye twitches every time i hear someone pronounce the 'h' in H, like 'Haytch'… I don't know why I hate it, it just sounds ugly and pretentious to me. Its utterly uncomfortable and unnatural, and going out of your way to make sure its 'haitch' and not 'aitch' is just insufferable to me. The word is a real word in the dictionary, and it is spelled 'aitch', but I digress. I am sure I have similar ways of pronouncing words that irritates people in other ways, so I try to let it go, I just found it interesting hearing steven fry with that same reaction.

  • I've heard Stephen Fry correcting people's grammar plenty of times, but only to a reasonable degree. The difference between "less" and "fewer" is exactly the same as between "much" and "many", and although it's important not to be pedantic, I wouldn't like to flash forward 50 years and see that everyone is saying "many water" and "many fun" while the word "much" has become archaic.

  • As a writer, I absolutely love this! I've always had a passion for words, but not necessarily the technicalities that come with them. 🤗 Just remember, there is only one way to truly express yourself: by expressing, YOURSELF, exactly how you feel to do so!

  • I just had a conversation with a girl on tinder, and the last thing she said before unmatching me was that I should get spell check.
    Instantly made me think of this video!

  • Never found a more interesting man that I agreed with but that I would never be able to have a satisfactory conversation with.

  • He says this, and yet, to this day, corrects people on exactly these things. He's admirable for having this mindset, but hypocritical in his actual behaviour. Stephen Fry is a very smart, very talented individual, and I admire him, but he doesn't follow his own advice.

  • Lets be fair. Math is in much the same boat as language as it is thought the wrong way to the new generation. At most it is a tool and at worst it is a painful scar left from your times of your youth.

  • After careful consideration of what specific and select words should go into this comment that lay before you, I have decided thusly. This was sick nasty!

  • yeah brotha' this vid be slammin! Cough Pardon me, I meant to describe this video as being copiously artistic and thought-provoking. I found Mr. Fry's views to be most eloquent.

  • Many people today are fascinated by lyricism/word play in rap music. So I'd disagree with the notion that no one cares about words.

  • I really like Stephen Fry, and he makes some very good points here, but 1) he is, in a way, attacking a straw man. I am guilty of pedantry, but that doesn't mean I have no appreciation for innovative or creative use of language. The whole reason why I love PG Wodehouse is because of his unorthodox use of common words to express even the simplest things in a hilariously fresh, descriptive way. This tirade of Fry's groups every pedant into extremes with no allowance for degree. I cringe at "five items or less" but love verbing nouns. And 2) with regard to Stravinsky and Picasso and just about every other avant-garde artist who came on the scene, they fully understood the traditional "rules" before they broke them. Their genius was in how they were able to take traditional notions and turn them on their heads. This leads to 3) clarity IS ultimately an issue. I tutor college students who know so little about language, they are completely unable to make their thoughts comprehensible to their audience. When they write, they randomly slop words on the paper with no more consideration than an elephant slinging paint onto a canvas. They have no idea of the fine shades of meaning between words, nor do they have any concept of simple grammatical rules that ensure that someone who is outside their heads will understand what they have written.

  • I mean, I like don't get the reason for the cockeyed and moving letters. The reader, he sounds really, really awesomely smart, but what's the point of authoring some things like "the" bigger than the words he blabbers on about? And why the fuck does he say "pedant" and "pedantry" if he's, you know, being pedantic in like every single sentence he elaborates — I mean "says." But he punctuates flawlessly, don't he? Plus, more importantly, the jiggling, juggling, jostling letters and crooked type all combine together to make the verbiage harder to grok when it's tossed out at you so fastly. It don't give you time to tell if it's authored good or not. Wasted time, wasted words, wasted thoughts all animated to no good end.

  • Dear lord this speech action art thingy makes me, how did he word it using the allusion to Lolita, "cream I. Delight as the tongue trips across the teeth" ahhhhhhh

  • I love it. And at the same time, I claim that there is some ungrammatical sentences that are unacceptable from the native viewpoint. How not there could be?

  • I just love everything about this video. And I admire Mr. Stephen Fry immensely. He so reminds me of one speciffic poem by Pedro Salinas.

    Wake up. Day calls you 

    Wake up. Day calls you 
    to your life: your duty. 
    And to live, nothing more. 
    Root it out of the glum 
    night and the darkness 
    that covered your body 
    for which light waited 
    on tiptoe in the dawn. 
    Stand up, affirm the straight 
    simple will to be 
    a pure slender virgin. 
    Test your bodys metal. 
    cold, heat? Your blood 
    will tell against the snow, 
    or behind the window. 
    The colour 
    in your cheeks will tell. 
    And look at people. Rest 
    doing no more than adding 
    your perfection to another 
    day. Your task 
    is to carry your life high, 
    and play with it, hurl it 
    like a voice to the clouds 
    so it may retrieve the light 
    already gone from us. 
    That is your fate: to live 
    Do nothing. 
    Your work is you, nothing more. 

    Pedro Salinas 

  • This is absolutely insane, none of these fools understand just how much work went into this. I'm trying to make typographies as well and It’s really difficult… I'd love to ask you how you did certain things, but I know way to well, that It’s probably none of your interest to help a bigginer out, but still. This was mindblowing. Well done.

  • There's a difference between being a 'grammar nazi' and desiring clear & consistent communication outside of creative writing.

  • When I first saw this years ago I disagreed with it, but after all this time – especially after I got more into writing regularly – I think about this rant a ton and it's given me so much freedom and, like he said, 'bliss' with language.

    Thinking about it now, this whole rant is absolutely why I like rap so much. When you think about it, rappers are masters of making informal language into something beautiful and complex. All rappers are a little bit different, but that magical moment when they pair 5 5-syllable words together (which would normally be incredibly awkward, you'd think) it gives me that feeling of euphoria he talks about.

  • Well, as we say in French:"That's a stone in my garden." I might very well be one of those people Stephen Fry speaks about (and here is a preposition at the end of a sentence : ) ) I cannot help shivering when I read "should of" where "should have" was meant, common spelling mistakes make me cringe and I can't, for the life of me, understand how bad grammar and bad spelling can happen today. It really makes reading and listening very tedious.
    I wish more people would use Grammarly or some such tools, it really does help.
    However, we are free to decide what's important to us as long as it is not imposed on others, right?
    Thank you, Stephen Fry, for a very interesting video.

  • Communication is the root of language. He uses perfect command of English to let you realize, there is nothing perfect about language but there is about communicating. Sp piss off grammar Nazis.

  • This is all well and good, maybe word choices aren't as important as some thing, but notice that his pronunciation in flawless and that every word that appears on the screen is spelled correctly!!!!

  • Damn and I thought my command of the English language was without peer among my peers and betters. It would appear that Stephan Fry has blown both me and V quite literally out of the water proverbially speaking of course, really he speaks truth that video made me want to hone my language skills as one's language skills are still very important can't have chavs running around spoiling the youth of tomorrow.

  • I don’t know. I do believe that the proper grammar should be used in the case of “Five items or less” case, but that’s not to say that I believe all cases of writing should adhere to proper grammar.

    For instance, I would never hold poetry to that condition nor any writing attempting to capture the vernacular. Anytime writing is attempting to capture feelings and emotions, words and grammar are secondary to the fundamental drive to express in those mediums; emotions dictate the rules in those cases, not the other way around.

    That being said, there is a beauty, I think, in the organization of language. How proper grammar and word-use has universal laws. I believe this feeling is akin to the beauty in which we see physics as the laws of existence. It fulfills our insatiable need to organize and make sense of the world around us. So, in cases of essays, dissertations, debate, and even YouTube comments, I find that the intended use of language is beautiful.

  • I have a bone to pick with you, Mr Fry (if you can drag yourself away from Twitter to read this lol) – 02:22 apostrophes are important, and very very misused these days. Or let's say "UN-used" more often than not or added to plurals! To excuse this is wrong.

  • Maybe, just maybe, a person is using language incorrectly. Discussing England's Kings among friends, one participant interjected with "Didn't Henry Veye have several wives?" A lively discussion ensued in which he stated that VI, VII and VIII were words to pronounce and the pronunciation for VIII was like 'eye' with a 'v' in front – "iks" was IX, "ex" was X, "zi" was XI and so on. His reasoning was that, as they were the "last names of Kings," they were written using only uppercase letters. After all, his keyboard only had "regular" numbers on it, not "those old ones."

  • For me, it is a cause of some upset that more Anglophones don’t enjoy language. Music is enjoyable it seems, so are dance and other, athletic forms of movement. People seem to be able to find sensual and sensuous pleasure in almost anything but words these days. Words, it seems belong to other people, anyone who expresses themselves with originality, delight and verbal freshness is more likely to be mocked, distrusted or disliked than welcomed.

    The free and happy use of words appears to be considered elitist or pretentious. Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way. They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people’s usage and in which they show off their own superior ‘knowledge’ of how language should be. I hate that, and I particularly hate the fact that so many of these pedants assume that I’m on their side. When asked to join in a “let’s persuade this supermarket chain to get rid of their ‘five items or less’ sign” I never join in.

    Yes, I am aware of the technical distinction between ‘less’ and ‘fewer’, and between ‘uninterested’ and ‘disinterested’ and ‘infer’ and ‘imply’, and all the rest of them, but none of these are of importance to me. ‘None of these are of importance,’ I said there – you’ll notice – the old pedantic me would have insisted on “none of them is of importance”.

    But I’m glad to say I’ve outgrown that silly approach to language. Oscar Wilde, and there have been few greater and more complete lords of language in the past thousand years, once included with a manuscript he was delivering to his publishers a compliment slip in which he had scribbled the injunction: “I’ll leave you to tidy up the woulds and shoulds, wills and shalls, thats and whiches etc.” Which gives us all encouragement to feel less guilty, don’t you think?

    There are all kinds of pedants around with more time to read and imitate Lynne Truss and John Humphrys than to write poems, love-letters, novels and stories it seems. They whip out their Sharpies and take away and add apostrophes from public signs, shake their heads at prepositions which end sentences and mutter at split infinitives and misspellings, but do they bubble and froth and slobber and cream with joy at language? Do they ever let the tripping of the tips of their tongues against the tops of their teeth transport them to giddy euphoric bliss? Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm and tickle those they talk to? Do they? I doubt it. They’re too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer’s less than perfect use of the apostrophe. Well sod them to Hades. They think they’re guardians of language. They’re no more guardians of language than the Kennel Club is the guardian of dogkind.

    The worst of this sorry bunch of semi-educated losers are those who seem to glory in being irritated by nouns becoming verbs. How dense and deaf to language development do you have to be? Hm? If you don’t like nouns becoming verbs, then for heaven’s sake avoid Shakespeare who made a doing-word out of a thing-word every chance he got.

    He TABLED the motion and CHAIRED the meeting in which nouns were made verbs. I suppose, new examples from our time might take some getting used to: ‘He actioned it that day’ for instance might strike some as a verbing too far, but we have been sanctioning, envisioning, propositioning and stationing for a long time, so why not ‘actioning’? ‘Because it’s ugly,’ whinge the pedants. It’s only ugly because it’s new and you don’t like it. Ugly in the way Picasso, Stravinsky and Eliot were once thought ugly and before them Monet, Mahler and Baudelaire. Pedants will also claim, with what I am sure is eye-popping insincerity and shameless disingenuousness, that their fight is only for ‘clarity’. Oh, this is all very well, but there is no doubt what ‘Five items or less’ means, just as only a dolt can’t tell from the context and from the age and education of the speaker, whether ‘disinterested’ is used in the ‘proper’ sense of non-partisan, or in the ‘improper’ sense of uninterested. No – no, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water. Nor does the idea that following grammatical rules in language demonstrates clarity of thought and intelligence of mind.

    Having said this, I admit that if you want to communicate well for the sake of passing an exam or job interview, then it is obvious that wildly original and excessively heterodox language could land you in the soup. I think what offends examiners and employers when confronted with extremely informal, unpunctuated and haywire language is the implication of not caring that underlies it. You slip into a suit for an interview and you dress your language up too. You can wear what you like linguistically or sartorially when you’re at home or with friends, but most people accept the need to smarten up under some circumstances – it’s only considerate. But that is an issue of fitness, of suitability, it has nothing to do with correctness. There no right language or wrong language any more than are right or wrong clothes. Context, convention and circumstance are all.

    I can’t deny that a small part of me still clings to a ghastly Radio 4/newspaper-letter-writer reader pedantry, but I – I fight against it in much the same way I try to fight against my gluttony, anger, selfishness and other vices. I must confess, for example, that I find it hard not to wince when someone aspirates the word ‘aitch’.

  • Standards are very important. It's our best educated who are most responsible for maintaining the standards of the nation. As one of our most knowledgeable and celebrated intellectuals, Fry is not just abdicating his duty by rubbishing the idea of grammatical standards but actively doing us a disservice.

    One doesn't have to be a disliked antagonist ("grammar-nazi") to help uphold standards, indeed it is best not to be. The least one can do is lead by example so far as they are able.

  • Fry straw-mans the importance of grammar by instead attacking "rudeness", "haughtiness", "pedantry" and "showing off". These things needn't be synonymous and you can criticise one without another.

  • I quote from Marcus Aurelius describing an alternative approach to improving grammar to contest with Fry's given example of bullying and harassment:

    "From Alexander the grammarian, [I learned] to refrain from fault-finding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous or solecistic or strange-sounding expression; but dexterously to introduce the very expression which ought to have been used, and in the way of answer or giving confirmation, or joining in an inquiry about the thing itself, not about the word, or by some other fit suggestion." – The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

    "From Apollonius I learned … to see clearly in a living example that the same man can be both most resolute and yielding, and not peevish in giving his instruction" – The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

  • I understand that grammatical rules are all arbitrary in origin and sometimes can seem very complicated and apparently pointless. Perhaps we can afford to lose some of them, but the portrayal of grammatical criticism and the effort to preserve consistent grammar in general as useless snootiness is misguided and harmful.

    I don't think it's a good thing that Shakespeare and Chaucer are so difficult to read today and if standards had been better maintained over the centuries the deepest roots of our culture could be far more accessible to us now than they currently are (and yes I know that Shakespeare was very inventive himself).

  • Here is Jonathan Swift speaking insightfully on the importance of linguistic standards:

    "Another Cause … which hath contributed not a little to the maiming of our Language, is a foolish Opinion, advanced of late Years, that we ought to spell exactly as we speak; which beside the obvious Inconvenience of utterly destroying our Etymology, would be a thing we should never see an End of. … even here in London, they clip their Words after one Manner about the Court, another in the City, and a third in the Suburbs; and in a few Years, it is probable, will all differ from themselves, as Fancy or Fashion shall direct: All which reduced to Writing would entirely confound Orthography." – A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue By Jonathan Swift

    "The rude Latin of the [medieval English] Monks is still very intelligible; whereas, had their Records been delivered down only in the vulgar Tongue, so barren and so barbarous, so subject to continual succeeding Changes, they could not now be understood, unless by Antiquaries who made it their Study to expound them. And we must at this Day have been content with such poor Abstracts of our English Story, as laborious Men of low Genius would think fit to give us; And even these in the next Age would be likewise swallowed up in succeeding Collections." – A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue By Jonathan Swift

  • I send this to a friend. He got so mad but he had no good argument just I take it seriously but I won't say anything anymore, if you dont want me to.

  • Do you think that he ended his quote of Oscar Wilde with “whiches” since Wilde and witches were both persecuted for the craft being considered evil?

  • Boy oh boy, communicating strictly by way of pointing and grunting can't begin too soon for me. 
    Fucking elitist grammar nazis.

  • "Yes it is Possible To Use Incorrect English"
    Doubtless very few here will read this. Most people, Americans being among the worst, will only read those whose opinions they are in agreement with.

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