Thursday, June 21, 2007
And Now … A Geek Moment
I warn you all, I am a geek.
YOU ARE BEING WARNED.
Yes, me … geek. I was the guy who was teased mercilessly in middle school … and elementary school … and Montesori school … and high school … for being interested in … well in just about anything I was interested in. All that teasing served to do was to irrevocably kill a small part in my moral center and make me vow to some day enact my revenge on all my tormentors. (You ever wonder why I’m approaching 40 and am so much poorer than my peers? The last of the hits should be going down just about … now. No, wait … and, now. Ahhhhhh. A dish best served cold.)
But I continue to be the geek that I was though I try to be polite and sensitive about how I inflict it on people. This is why I’m warning you that this blog entry is all about geeking out. Specifically, I’m going to be the Word Geek here. So if you’re not up for that you can stop reading now, move along, nothing to see, and take comfort that at least you were warned … which is more than I can say for those assholes I knew in school. I can assure you, they never saw it coming. Fuckers.
YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
You remember how last year I directed the summer Shakespeare play for Four County Players? Well, this year I’m in the summer Shakespeare play for Four County Players. So the other day I’m working on my lines when I start to stumble over whether or not my character says “will” or “shall” at a particular point. And I stumble over it because sometimes Shakespeare has me saying, “will” and sometimes he has me saying, “shall”. So I wondered, what the Hell was the difference between “will” and “shall”? Seeing as I try to spend as many of my waking hours as possible sitting at the end of a high-speed Internet connection, I looked it up, and the answer that I found is so rediculously arbitrary and complex that I, of course, think it’s fascinating!
First of all, of course, practically speaking, there isn’t any difference as “shall” has pretty much fallen out of common usage. But when “shall” was used, a couple of sources suggest the following difference in usage between “will” and “shall”.
When used with the first person (I, We), “shall” indicates the informal future, whereas “will” indicates the emphatic future. When used with the second and third persons (Get this!) that distinction is reversed! (Isn’t that just wacky!?! I love English!)
So you can say, “I suppose I shall keep my appointment with Roger tomorrow. And should he show, we will have this issue out once and for all.” I make a simple statement about my future appointment keeping but am emphatic about my intention to settle things between Roger and me.
I could also say, “I will confront him. And when we meet, he will die.” Ooo! I really being a sneaky badass here. Because I am resolved to encounter my unnamed object, but when we meet the result is a foregone conclusion. That’s of course different from “I will confront him. And when we meet, he shall die!” Emphasis on both ends. Both to confront and to prevail will take an act of will (stricly speaking, of course).
On the other end, I could chill things down and say, “You will find the Professor in the Study. I shall be in the Drawing Room.” – matter of fact statements about future events, as opposed to, “It’s too late to back out now! You shall find the Professor in the Study! You can be sure that I will be in the Drawing Room!” Here you best be finding El Professor in the Study because I’m obviously waiting on your trifling ass in the Drawing Room so I can play my part in whatever little adventure we have going. Pretty cool, huh?
This, of course, is why “shall” has fallen from modern usage. B-Boys in hip hop culture are always speaking in the emphatic and always talking about themselves. Thus they never have need for “shall”. “I will step up to the nigger, and when I do, I will put a cap in his punk ass!” See? Nothing informal about that future.
I think that’s so cool!! Now I know why Shakespeare has me saying “will” sometimes and “shall” other times. Now if I can only find a difference between “Set your legs to motion” and “Put your legs to motion.”
Hey, don’t make that face. You were warned. You’re lucky I didn’t share my recent thoughts about Star Trek with you.