The Role of Grandiloquence in Advancing Humor

Sample: Audience: Academic, Length: 500 words.
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In the Old Southwestern story, “Parson John Bullen’s Lizards,” written by George Washington Harris, is humor found in the juxtaposition of the narrator’s grandiloquence to the speaker’s orality or in the union of the speaker’s somewhat advanced vocabulary and sentence structure to his obvious level of education and speech patterns?

For this text, it would be difficult to successfully argue that the humor is derived from the juxtaposition of the narrator’s grandiloquence to the speaker’s orality because there is little presence of the narrator—in terms of dialog. But, the text is humorous, and it is not because of the irony in the “hell-sarpint aplicashun.”

The text is humorous because, Sut Lovingood, the main character, has an above-expected level vocabulary, detail, and sentence structure nestled in the middle a down-home dialog. The grandiloquence shines even brighter through the sentence structure and spelling. The reader expects to see, after five or six words of dialog, short, simple sentences and little detail, but Sut’s long, drawn-out sentences, sentence structure, and attention to detail pull the reader into a text made up of social irony. The bigger the words he uses, the funnier it is, the misspelling adding a good deal of the humor. The misspelling and truncated words are important to the style because they confirm the reader’s belief that the character is uneducated. This excerpt exemplifies the detail, structure, vocabulary, and spelling that combine in a synergic mix to make the story laugh-out-loud-funny.

“He tole ‘em how the ole Hell-sarpints wud sarve em if they didn’t repent; how cold they’d crawl over thar nakid bodys, an’ how like ontu pitch they’d stick tu ‘em es they crawled; how they’d rap thar tails roun’ thar naiks chokin clost, poke thar tungs up thar noses, an’ hiss intu thar years.”

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