I don’t watch much TV, but when I do, I watch some glorious trash, including Brothers & Sisters. The show has lost traction lately, but there are still some great flashes of dialogue. One this week to add to my collection of scenes in which TV characters talk grammar:
Holly: You wanted to Nora Walker me into going to New York.
Nora: I had no idea I was a verb.
Holly: Nora, you are every part of speech.
Nora: Holly, look, I don’t want to verb or adjective you into doing anything you don’t want to do.
It’s not up there with my all-time favourite – from an episode of The West Wing, but it’s pretty cute. I love that Holly manages to make that line about Nora being every part of speech sound both like an insult, and a statement of familiarity that does reflect my understanding – as a viewer – of Nora’s character.
For the record, that great scene about language from West Wing is from Series One, Episode Six. It takes place during a poker game. This poker game is the first of many in the show during which the president (Bartlet) asks random trivia questions in an attempt to challenge and distract his staffers/opponents in the game:
Toby: Do you call the raise sir?
Bartlet: That depends…
Josh: Depends on what?
Bartlet: There are fourteen punctuation marks in Standard English grammar. Can anyone name them, please?
Leo: Ah… apostrophe.
Bartlet: That’s only seven. There are seven more.
Toby: Question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parentheses, braces and ellipsis.
Toby: Do you call the raise, sir?