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What vernacular words does Twain use in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras...

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sunshine16 | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted May 20, 2010 at 1:34 PM via web

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What vernacular words does Twain use in "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County" and how is this more authentic?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:45 AM (Answer #1)

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Much of the humor in Mark Twain's short story "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calveras County" is result of the native dialect in which the  "good-natured, garrulous old Simon Wheeler" tells his story to Mark Twain. The use of the native dialect in addition to giving an authentic ring to the story foregrounds  the native folk element of the narrative. Simon Wheeler belongs to the now defunct mining camp of Angel's and in order to make the story as authentic and realistic as possible Mark Twain makes Simon Wheeler speak in the native dialect of Angel Camp.

Some examples are as follows:

1. 'feller' instead of 'fellow.'

2. 'solittry' instead of 'solitary.'

3.  'anywheres' instead of 'anywhere.'

5.  'dangdest'   slang expressing annoyance or dislike.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 20, 2010 at 1:50 PM (Answer #2)

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The word "vernacular" in this case sort of means something like slang or informal language as opposed to the sort of formal, educated language that you often see in literature.  Mark Twain has Simon Wheeler speak almost exclusively in the vernacular.  His speech makes a very distinct contrast with that of the narrator, which is very formal.  I think that makes the story more authentic because presumably some guy in a bar in a mining camp would not be talking the way the narrator does.

Some examples of vernacular from the story are:

  • flush
  • busted
  • setting (instead of sitting)
  • straddle-bug

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