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Thread: Unique to Opera verbage

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Default Unique to Opera verbage

    I have noticed in quite a number of operas that the characters do something we never do in real life..... call themselves by name. Is this done in older plays or is it unique in the arts? Examples are eluding me at present, but I would be surprised if I am the only person who who has noticed this?

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    Senior Member Don Fatale's Avatar
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    You mean refer to oneself in the third person? Don Fatale thinks it was quite prevalent these days with pretentious singers and actors.

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    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=30069

    Vocative self-address can be found in classical literature, for instance in Idyll XI by the bucolic poet Theocritus. The Cyclops Polyphemus addresses himself using the Greek rhetorical device of apostrophe:

    ὦ Κύκλωψ Κύκλωψ, πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι

    O Cyclops, Cyclops, where be your wits gone flying?
    (transl. by J.M. Edmonds)

    Or in a more modern rendering:

    Cyclops, Cyclops, have you lost your mind?
    (transl. by Diane Arnson Svarlien)

    Shakespeare used it too, as when the Earl of Kent is speaking to himself in King Lear:

    If but as well I other accents borrow,
    That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
    If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
    So may it come thy master, whom thou lovest,
    Shall find thee full of labors.

    (See Vocative Constructions in the Language of Shakespeare by Beatrix Busse for more.)

    In these literary examples, a character uses a construction associated with second-person address to turn an interior monologue into a kind of dialogue. People in real life can do that too, for instance when chastising oneself with one's own name. Stephen Colbert used to do that in a jokey way on his old Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. At the very end of this clip, for instance, you can hear him say, "Get it together, Colbert! Get it together!" (As noted by Mr. Verb, when Colbert was addressing himself, he would lapse into the original family pronunciation of his last name, "COLE-bert," rather than "cole-BEAR.")

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    Senior Member Seattleoperafan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by russetvelvet View Post
    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=30069

    Vocative self-address can be found in classical literature, for instance in Idyll XI by the bucolic poet Theocritus. The Cyclops Polyphemus addresses himself using the Greek rhetorical device of apostrophe:

    ὦ Κύκλωψ Κύκλωψ, πᾷ τὰς φρένας ἐκπεπότασαι

    O Cyclops, Cyclops, where be your wits gone flying?
    (transl. by J.M. Edmonds)

    Or in a more modern rendering:

    Cyclops, Cyclops, have you lost your mind?
    (transl. by Diane Arnson Svarlien)

    Shakespeare used it too, as when the Earl of Kent is speaking to himself in King Lear:

    If but as well I other accents borrow,
    That can my speech diffuse, my good intent
    May carry through itself to that full issue
    For which I razed my likeness. Now, banished Kent,
    If thou canst serve where thou dost stand condemned,
    So may it come thy master, whom thou lovest,
    Shall find thee full of labors.

    (See Vocative Constructions in the Language of Shakespeare by Beatrix Busse for more.)

    In these literary examples, a character uses a construction associated with second-person address to turn an interior monologue into a kind of dialogue. People in real life can do that too, for instance when chastising oneself with one's own name. Stephen Colbert used to do that in a jokey way on his old Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report. At the very end of this clip, for instance, you can hear him say, "Get it together, Colbert! Get it together!" (As noted by Mr. Verb, when Colbert was addressing himself, he would lapse into the original family pronunciation of his last name, "COLE-bert," rather than "cole-BEAR.")
    This is why I keep coming back to this forum:-) Thanks. This is exactly the type of self reference I was addressing. I figured it might be classical in origen.

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    Senior Member Pugg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattleoperafan View Post
    This is why I keep coming back to this forum:-) Thanks. This is exactly the type of self reference I was addressing. I figured it might be classical in origen.

    As I always say, one learning new things every day on this site.
    First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
    "Mahatma Gandhi"

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    "Is Ahab Ahab? Is it I, God, or who that lifts this hand? . . . " (from Moby Dick)

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    Senior Member Tuoksu's Avatar
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    "Avrai per guanciali sol vepri, o Macbetto! Il sonno per sempre, Glamis, uccidesti. Non v'è che vigilia, Caudore, per te" Macbeth uses three names to address himself even.
    Last edited by Tuoksu; Dec-30-2016 at 10:16.

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    Senior Member DavidA's Avatar
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    oh yes, Wagner's characters do that. Tristan and ~Isolde

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