Tea Time with the Dragons of Grammar (A Drama)
Tea Time with the Dragons of Grammar
(A Romantical Comedy in Three Acts)
Just when you thought the Dragons of Grammar couldn’t get any sillier, here we are to prove you wrong. To be sure, there will be a certain element of competition (and perhaps even a little back-scratching) in the conversation that follows, but all the dragons have promised to be on their best manners, so we can expect to see more cucumber sandwiches perched precariously on claws than dead-dragon looks (and if you don’t know what a DDL is, how lucky for you! )
A. Our Mise-en-Scene
So where were we? Ah yes, imagine we’re inside a large, airy cave with a view–a dramatic one, of the ocean and exotic lands far away. Next, let’s reintroduce our company of grammarian daredevils: 1) Morphology (the Chocoholic Dragon); 2) Syntax (the Aviator Dragon); 3) Phonology (the Absent-Minded Dragon); 4) Phonetics (the Dragon with a Tape-Recorder); 5) Semantics (the Acupuncturist); and 6) Pragmatics (the Fuzzy Dragon).
And lest any of our readers have (gasp!) forgotten the Dragons’ respective bailiwicks, here they are: a) Morphology: the classification of word- and language-types; b) Syntax: the construction of sentences and languages; c) Phonology: the link between sound and meaning; d) Phonetics: the mechanics of language; e) Semantics: the shades of meaning; and f) Pragmatics: the real-world approach to language, or the poetry of language).
B. Act One: A Critical Question!
Our dragons are all seated in a circle, each holding his (or her!) cup of tea. A large, elaborate oak coffee-table sits in the center of the circle; on the table is an ornate Victorian tea-service, including scones, frittatas (a modern concession), six very large porcelain pots of tea, and enough cookies to give even an active sweet-tooth second thoughts. Morphology (or Morfilene) is wearing PJs and a bathrobe, with curlers in her hair and a large box of Godiva chocolates on her lap; Syntax (or Capt. Sopwith) is wearing a leather aviator jacket, a white silk scarf, and a pair of goggles; Phonology (or Prof. GrumpyChuckle) is wearing a tweed jacket, a large pair of round glasses, a rumpled white shirt with a rather natty plaid bow-tie, and has red string tied around one finger–he is supposed to be our process monitor!!); Phonetics (or Ranger Eagle-Ear) is dressed in a no-nonsense khaki uniform and dark-brown field-hat; Semantics (or Dr. Silverneedle) is wearing light-blue scrubs, sandals, and a yellow ribbon in her dark hair); and Pragmatics (or Ms. CoolStuff) is wearing designer jeans, a mohair sweater, and bangle earrings. (Next to GrumpyChuckle is an enormous standing gong).
1. RT starts the ball rolling by asking: How are the Dragons of Grammar related to each other? A sensitive question this, and accompanied by many an arched eyebrow, many a set of pursed lips. No one wants to be the first to make a comment, and some minutes pass before Ranger Eagle-Ear pipes up and says: “It all starts with a sound! The important thing is to have a tape-recorder with you.” Capt. Sopwith snorts at the remark and says, “Hogwash! You must have a plan first, a plan!” Things look like they might degenerate into a shouting match, but Ms. Coolstuff intervenes with a bright smile and “Get over yourselves! The man didn’t ask us who was first; he wanted to know how we’re related.” Sopwith and Eagle-Ear momentarily look indisposed (having failed to think of a sharp retort), and then the group sinks back into silence.
2. At length, Prof. GrumpyChuckle restarts the conversation with “By gosh and golly, there is no real distinction between us; we exist as a team, a department, everyone acting in harmony.” Several Bronx cheers greet this remark, and GrumpyChuckle reminds the dragons that this is supposed to be a polite conversation. More Bronx cheers.
3. A fragile silence follows, soon broken by Morfilene, who says, “What you are obviously failing to see is that grammar is An Art, involving taste and the ability to understand distinctions, say, the difference between a Royal Coconut Bon-Bon and a Cherry Explosion Truffle.” Morfilene temporarily disappears behind puffs of steam blown at her by the others (who want some of the chocolates she is so zealously hoarding).
Indeed, tempers are beginning to fray, so RT thinks it the better part of valor to call a time-out. The curtain descends.
C. Act Two: A Desperate Duel!
The curtain rises on our dragons engrossed in an appalling spectacle: Eagle-Eye and Sopwith are dueling with sabres; they have offended each other’s honor, and as gentlemen dragons, they must fight to the death! All eyes are rivetted on the pair as they dance around each other, assuming threatening poses and exchanging DDLs. Then Eagle-Eye dashes in and scores a direct hit! Green dragon blood dribbles out from Sopwith circles round and slashes EE’s arm. But it is too late; EE takes his sabre in his left hand and rushes at Sopwith, slashing away. Sopwith is overwhelmed, hit multiple times, and crys out “Forsooth! I am struck a grievious blow!” before falling to the ground. But GrumpyChuckle saves the day, banging on his gong so loud that EE’s ears explode with ringing, he loses balance, and falls to the floor, unconscious. Silverneedle (who has always had a crush on Sopwith) rushes to his side, and before long her magic needles have revived him. Morfilene (who has always had passionate feelings for EE), feeds him her secret hemp-and-soybean bon-bons, which heal his ears of all hurt.
Bravo, GrumpyChuckle! The curtain descends.
D. Act Three: All is Fair in Love and Food!
Our curtain rises on a tragical scene–our dragons are divided into two camps, one on either side of the stage. The tea table and service are gone, as are Morfilene’s chocolates.
RT’s final question: If you had a choice, which would you rather do: go to a lavish banquet or read a book on grammar?
An uproar ensures, as dragons raise their hands, jump up and down, and make faces at the opposing side–the sole exception being Morfilene, who rolls her eyeballs. At last she jumps up and shouts down everyone else. “Where are my chocolates! I want my chocolates!”
In response, Eagle-Eye roars out: “Balderdash! Why are you worried about food when more important matters are at stake?”
But now CoolStuff is getting angry: “Why do dragons waste time on duels? If we change grammar, we can change the way people think and get rid of this nonsense !” To which Eagle-Eye huffs and puffs and says: “And how are we going to do that?” GrumpyChuckle then proceeds to bang on his gong, an enormous sound, and everyone sits down.
By way of reward, GC waves to unseen lizard helpers, and they run onto the stage with the table, service, and a new supply of tea, sandwiches, cookies–and chocolates! A few satisfied minutes follow as the dragons sip and munch away. Then Silverneedle gets bored and starts throwing crumbs at Sopwith (he never does pay any attention to her!). Sopwith responds with a volley of strawberries, and before GrumpyChuckle can do anything, the tea party has degenerated into a food fight. As four of the dragons chase each other around the room, Morfilene holds on tightly to her chocolates and GrumpyChuckle bangs on his gong. Exeunt the four dragons stage left, followed by GrumpyChuckle and Morfilene.
(and the Dragons of Grammar will be back to provide further insights–and settle their differences)
Photos: Top: Tea Colors; WikiCmns; User, Haneburger; Public Domain. Bottom: Tea Cup With Dragon Motif; WikiCmns; User: Yunomi; Public Domain.