Monday, August 28, 2006


I almost never watch westerns, but I have been enjoying the HBO series "Deadwood" on DVD. I'm pondering the use of English in the show and comparing it to the Thai movies and television I sometimes watch.

The vocabulary in Deadwood consists of common words, but for an ESL learner the level of English would be quite advanced. The characters speak in outdated idioms and turns of phrase. Important plot points are communicated by indirect dialogue. There's an implicit assumption that the viewer is familiar with American history, culture, and geography. Even as a native speaker, I have to watch and listen carefully.

The closest Thai equivalent I can think of is a movie that uses a regional dialect (like parts of Ong Bak, Thai Warrior) or a royal dialect (like Legend of Suriyothai).

It's interesting to me that the "advanced" nature of the English in Deadwood is due to cultural, stylistic, and idiomatic features, rather than vocabulary.


Anonymous said...

I too am a fan of linguistics and once you get past all the expletives it is like watching a Shakespeare play.

Scott Imig said...

Yeah, great writing.

I just wish they would come out with Season 3 on DVD. :)