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"I Shit My Pants": Spontaneous Ancient Literary Structure in Modern Day Colloquial Speech

I.) Introduction
II.) Audio source
III.) The text
IV.) Chiasmus
V.) Analysis
VI.) Call for submissions
VII.) Submissions

"I Shit My Pants":
Spontaneous Ancient Literary Structure in Modern Colloquial Speech

by Clark Cooley, Ph.DL.DD.

Part V: Analysis

Are complex and sophisticated ancient literary figures unknowingly employed by those unschooled in them?

Close parsing of our source text would suggest that the answer to that question is yes -- for what we find in our example is a clear case of chiasmus inversus, defined by Bengel as follows: "Chiasmus inversus est, cum vox aut propositio prior in primo pari referri debet ad vocem aut propositionem posteriorem in secundo pari: et vox aut propositio posterior in primo pari ad vocem aut propositionem priorem in secundo pari." Which being translated is, "the first of the first refers to the last of the second and the first of the second to the last of the first."

At any rate, we can now examine our chiasmus in situ. In particular, we would call attention to lines 3 through 6, inclusive:

03:   I was at the grocery store.
04:   Where I just shit my pants.
05:   I SHIT MY PANTS!
06:   At the grocery store.

The form of this chiasmus may be more readily apparent if we indent the middle two lines. Thus:

03:   I was at the grocery store.
04:     Where I just shit my pants.
05:     I SHIT MY PANTS!
06:   At the grocery store.

Chiasmus can take many forms -- ABBC, ABBAB, ABAB, ABBA. We have here a clear case of the classic form of chiasmus: ABBA, where the subject of the first and final lines is matched, as is the subject of the second and penultimate lines. Thus:

  A   I was at the grocery store.
    B   Where I just shit my pants.
    B   I SHIT MY PANTS!
  A   At the grocery store.

Which, being laid out as to subject, would be as follows:s

  A   The setting (the Grocery Store).
    B   The incident (the Shit).
    B   The incident (the Shit).
  A   The setting (the Grocery Store).

Storytelling has, across the ages, found for itself multitudinous formats (stories, poems, songs, plays) and forms (rhymes, figures of speech). The root significance of our text is in showing that the forms of storytelling can be unpremeditated -- obviously, the subject does not plan to soil herself at the grocer's, but, having done so, her first impulse is, naturally, to phone her friends with the story of the incident.

We see, therefore, that storytelling retains, even in its most strained moments, narrative's irreducible functions, such as it has possessed for as far back as we know anything about human societies. Tax the imagination though it may to conceive of Homer composing an ode, much less an epic, upon having just shat his toga, it must be recognized that storytelling of any stripe stretches back to the earliest days of man's imagination of himself.

With this, we hold our thesis of the inadvertent incidence colloquial use of ancient literary figures to be proven -- for, dear scholars, it gets no more colloquial than this.

Call for submissions


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