What is Verbal Art and Speech Play
Thursday January 11th, 2018
●The Ludic Function of Language
○Going in and out of the serious and non-serious
●Playing by the Rules
○Changing pronunciation, word order, etc.
○Ex. don’t make the same pun in the same conversation
○Ex. setting up a joke before telling the punchline
○But don’t manipulate all the rules at once
●What can we learn from studying speech play and verbal art?
○Simultaneous study of language structure and language use
○Studying creativity we see more about how language works
○Studying play or art looks at humanity differently, studying values, beliefs, taboos, and
how they are addressed, how they are played with, and who plays with them
○We learn what it takes to be good at playing with language
○How does Sherzer define speech play and verbal art? How are they similar and different?
○What characteristics of language makes speech play and verbal art possible, according to
○What does Sherzer mean by loose coupling?
■How various components of language are all related but exist independently,
generating endless examples of speech play.
○What is the ethnography of speaking approach to analysis?
■“The ethnography of speaking studies the relationships between language and
culture and language and society from an ethnographic perspective. Empirical
analyses of actual instances of language use, derived from extended field
research, are related to native cultural conceptions and practices of speaking.”
○How is language characterized by Sherzer (and linguistic anthropology)?
■“Structured as open systems, flexible and creative.”
○Define and give examples of some linguistic features on which speech play is based.
■Signifieds like figures of speech and metaphors
■Signifiers like rhyme, assonance, and alliteration
●Comparing Three Versions of “Busted”
■Removed brother’s name