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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Buffy, Hamlet, and Italics

Buffy and Hamlet

I'm Italicized. Ask Me How!

What do Buffy and Hamlet have in common? They present the same problem to writers: to italicize or not to italicize? The answer depends on whether you’re talking about Hamlet the prince or Hamlet the play, Buffy the slayer or Buffy the show. Titles of plays and TV shows should always be written in italics, but names of characters should not:

  • Her thesis was titled “The Colour of Buffy’s Lip Gloss as an Indicator of Methods Employed in Subverting the Patriarchy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
  • Students reading up on Hamlet’s motivation may find themselves echoing Oscar Wilde: “Are the commentators on Hamlet mad, or only pretending to be?”

For more on titles and italics, go to this post.

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Trooper or Trouper?

Super Trouper

Super Trooper?

Ever wonder why the ABBA song is called “Super Trouper”? Shouldn’t it be spelled “trooper”? Spellcheck won’t help you here, because we’re talking about two different words.

A trouper is someone who keeps going under difficult circumstances without complaint. The word comes from a theatre troupe and suggests a the-show-must-go-on attitude.

A trooper is a member of a military troop. You might look to such a person for inventive swear words, but not cheerful smiles and a can-do attitude. (The same word gives us a crowd of people trooping from one place to another; that is, moving together in the same direction, as in a military manoeuvre.)

  • Get enough sherry into Great Aunt Lavinia and she starts swearing like a trooper and poking people with her cane.
  • Everything that could go wrong during the balloon expedition, short of fatal accident, did; but Edith was a real trouper, helping the pilot spill the ballast and keeping the passengers’ spirits up with a rousing sing-along.