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"Talk excessive. Time limited"
Omega Supreme, Transformers

Character talks in shorthand. Often avoids "being" verbs. Often due to keeping journal. Makes character more distinctive/memorable. Annoying to some. Prone to Punctuated for Emphasis.

Contrast Motor Mouth. Compare Beige Prose.

Examples of Terse Talker include:

Comic Books

  • Rorschach from Watchmen is always like this when talking, but his journal and internal monologue switches between this and outbreaks of fluency. Still skips articles and pronouns in journal.

  "Stood in firelight sweltering. Blood spreading on chest like map of violent new continent."

  • The Surgeon General from Give Me Liberty talks in exactly the same way as Rorschach.
  • The "That Yellow Bastard" yarn of Sin City starts with Hartigan's introduction: "One hour to go. Last day on the job. Not my idea. Doctor's orders. Heart condition. Angina, he calls it."

Fan Fiction

  • As a consequence of being modeled on Bridget Jones's Diary, Cassandra Clare's The Very Secret Diaries and all their numerous parodies and imitations.


  "Introduces, in this paragraph, the device of sentence fragments. A sentence fragment. Another. Good device. Will be used more later."

  • Eustace Scrubb writes like this in his journal entries.
  • Mac in The Dresden Files hoards words. he almost never speaks in complete sentences, usually limiting his communication to single words or phrases. In Changes, when Harry explains that his daughter has been kidnapped, the event is so shocking that Mac actually speaks an entire paragraph.
  • Ulath in the Sparhawk series. Often will sum up a complex idea with one word and let others figure it out.
  • Evelyn Howard from Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles. As narrator Hastings puts it, her speech is "couched in the telegraphic style."

Live Action TV

 Xander: What is it? How do you get it? Who doesn't have it, and who decides who doesn't have it? What is the essence of 'cool'?

Oz: Not sure.

Xander: I mean, you yourself, Oz, are considered more or less 'cool'. Why is that?

Oz: Am I?

Xander: Is it about the talking? You know, the-the way you tend to express yourself in short, non-committal phrases?

Oz: Could be.

    • And From Angel, Oz and Angel catch up on Sunnydale gossip:

 Angel: Oz.

Oz: Hey.

Angel: Nice surprise.

Oz: Thanks.

Angel: Staying long?

Oz: Few days.

Doyle: Are they always like this?

Oz: No, we're usually laconic.

Real Life

  • Former Russian finance minister turned newspaper columnist A. Lifshits is known (in Russia) for his frequent use of this in speeches and articles. It looks pretty much like this:

 "Russia's economy is bad. Really. Very bad. It's a pity. Because of communists. Soviet apparatchiks. Still many of them. Too many. That's a shame."

  • Many accounts of messages sent by military commanders engaged in combat, sometimes due to needing to keep it brief so they could focus on the fighting, and sometimes because the nature of how the messages were sent (telegraph, flag signals, etc.) tended to favor brief messages.
  • "Veni, vidi, vici."[1] - Gaius Julius Caesar
    • Succinct, to be sure, but not as fragmentary as it appears in English as Latin does not use tend to use pronouns to denote subjects.
    • Caesar overall might still count, though; his style of writing in his military commentaries, at least, was famously straightforward to the point, at times, of litotes, which goes some way to explain the texts' enduring popularity as fairly basic-level reading material in the instruction of Latin today.
  • American President Calvin Coolidge was known as "Silent Cal" among Washington society. A possibly apocryphal story has it that Dorothy Parker, seated next to him at a dinner, said to him, "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you."

  Coolidge: "You lose."

 Coolidge: "Fuck you"

Video Games

 Warden: Tell me about the qunari.

Sten: No.

Web Comics

  Vaarsuvius: BURN, you insufferably terse dullard!

Web Original

Western Animation

 Optimus Prime: "Badly damaged. Losing energy rapidly. Power relays fused. Mobility limited. Part replacement essential."

 Comic Book Guy: Unable... To continue... Describing... Symptoms... *collapses*

  • Omega Supreme from the G1 Transformers cartoon. Just about everything he ever said were two-word sentences, on the order of noun-adjective ("Repairs complete. Disaster averted.")
    • Omega tends to do this in many incarnations. As does Soundwave.

 Ginormous, homage-tastically recolored virtual Soundwave: ESCAPE IS IMPOSSIBLE. AUTOBOTS INFERIOR, SOUNDWAVE SUPERIOR.


  1. "I came, I saw, I conquered."
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