Monty Python and the Joy of Tone

I recently wrote about tone and how the feel of a word is just as important as its definition when judging whether to use it in a sentence. My first lesson in tone came from this brilliant Monty Python sketch (slight warning: it’s a bit NSFW at the end). The absurdist joke that the whole thing hangs on is that words can be characterized as woody or tinny, the woody words being preferable to the tinny ones. You’ll probably understand this tonal classification system immediately, and if you don’t, the sketch should make it perfectly (and weirdly) clear.

Thinking about words—how they sit in your mind and how they affect others when you utter them—is good, clean fun. If your friends are of the proper ilk, start up a conversation with them about favorite words.* I bet you’ll find that they select their favorites based on tone (“I just love how it sounds, how it makes you feel!”) more than anything else.

*Conviviality and victuals are recent favorites of mine—and I have to note that one is tinny and the other is woody.

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