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TV Tropes Monday: Expospeak Gag


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Today we will write about a literary device commonly employed in media, such as, but not limited to, movies, television, books and video games. This literary device serves to explain to the audience a key feature of the setting construction, such as the inner workings of said setting fictitious magical system or the speculative theory behind faster than light travel. When such explanatory device serves to set up a humorous situation it is called an Exospeak Gag.

Wwo, still with me? Because that was doozy! Essentially, whenever a character goes into a lengthy description about a thing or a situation where a few common words would do, you have this trope. Very common in sci-fi and related stories, specially by The Professor or their equivalent. Also common in military themed stories but that is because the military loves their jargon. Take for example the military alphabet.

A-Alpha

B-Bravo

C-Charlie

And so on.

You can imagine the possibilities for jokes such as, Sierra Hotel India Tango!  Usually the setup to the gad is a jargon filled statement which people who are familiar with the jargon will get first and the punchline is the every day words the jargon set up. Of course, like any gag or trope, it can go horribly wrong in a variety of ways:

  • Abuse: A character or characters use this way to much, slowing down the narrative.
  • Get the expospeak wrong: The technical terms either don’t make sense or are the wrong ones. People who know groan, those that don’t just scratch their heads.
  • The gag crashes on landing: Simply put the required delivery doesn’t work, making the whole thing a groan worthy non-starter.

So thread with care creator of speculative fiction about future events or those set in alternate realities to our own. This is one sure way to crash and/or burn.

 

 

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