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August 2009, Week 3


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Prof Steven P Hill <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 16 Aug 2009 11:51:20 -0500
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Dear colleagues:

Apologies for cross-posting.

Twice in short comedy films starring W C Fields a character bears 
a long, funny surname beginning with the letters POST-. I've played 
and listened carefully to both films:  the surname sounds as if 
it is consistently pronounced [ pah ssul whiss ul ].  

But there appears to be some disagreement as to how that 
surname should be properly WRITTEN in alphabetic characters.  

In "Fatal Glass of Beer" (1933),   some data-bases spell the 
surname POSTHLEWHISTLE (14 letters). But in "Tales of Manhattan" 
(1942;  deleted and restored Fields episode,  which could have 
been entitled "The High-Hung Coconut of Kadula-Kadula"), 
some data-bases spell the same surname as POSTLEWHISTLE 
(13 letters; first "H" missing).

My orthographic instincts, for what they're worth, suggest that 
the 1942 orthography should be considered the preferred one.  
And that the 1933 orthography should be revised (on modern 
data-bases) to delete that first "H."  That would impart some 
consistency to a typically amusing characteronym of the 
sort often encountered in Fields comedies. 

Ah yes.  But what say you, esteemed audience of most 
perspicacious sensitivities ?

With bounteous gratitude,
Steven P Hill,
University of Illinois,
<[log in to unmask]>

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