Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Hapax legomena in Taylor Swift’s “crumpled masterpiece”, “All Too Well (Ten-Minute Version)"

Taylor Swift's "All Too Well (Ten-Minute Version)", from "Red (Taylor's Version)", 2021, the ponders a relationship as a work of art destroyed by an ex: "But maybe this thing was a masterpiece / Till you tore it all up." In Swift's work so far, "masterpiece" is a hapax legomenon – a word that appears only once in a corpus. Another such word in "All Too Well" is "crumpled": "I'm a crumpled-up piece of paper lying here." With the "crumpled-up paper" of a self after a breakup and the torn-up pieces of that "masterpiece" of a relationship – out of these singular words – Swift composed the song that many have considered her own masterpiece. (Andrew Shields, #111Words, 27 March 2024)

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