Archive for the ‘Quotations’ Category


October 3, 2015

Back on 9/23, I got e-mail from a representative of a California public radio station, sent at 9 a.m. (though I didn’t get to it until later), asking me to do an interview by phone for them at 11:45 that morning, on Yogi Berra and his language. Now, I was offended at the extremely short notice (though journalists do this to me a lot), and I had other reasons for not wanting to do it. After some thought, I decided to meet rudeness with rudeness and just delete the message.


Rhett to Scarlett

September 3, 2015

Heard in passing on KFJC’s Norman Bates show Saturday morning, Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) to Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) in the 1939 movie of Gone With the Wind, what I heard as:

No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.

I’m interested in the third sentence, boldfaced above. Transcribed as here:


Two modifiers of kissed in the VP: often and by someone who knows how. These modifiers can be tightly adjoined (in speech, not set off prosodically; in writing, not set off by punctuation) or loosely adjoined (in speech, set off prosodically; in writing, set off by a comma); and the modifiers can be syntactically unmarked, or marked as coordinate (with and). The version in #1 has both modifiers marked with and, with the first tightly adjoined, but the second loosely adjoined.

My question about these matters is to what extent they involve linguistic structure, and to what extent they are (more or less literally) choices in performance, options indicated in writing in the fashion of stage directions, or options taken by actors.


green … egg … (ham)

August 4, 2015

It starts with a paper by Elizabeth Closs Traugott (with my assistance) at the recent International Pragmatics Conference in Antwerp, on metatext in the cartoon xkcd (full set of slides linked to here). After Elizabeth gave the paper, she got a comment from someone asking if she knew of a comic strip with mouse-over texts and further texts that emerge from inside those mouse-overs (another layer of cartoon complexity beyond those I have written about) — a daily or weekly strip with a name that Elizabeth thinks had green and egg in it, but of course wasn’t Green Eggs and Ham.

I’ve now been trying to track down this mystery strip, but without success, mostly because Dr. Seuss keeps getting in the way. But I’ve come up with seven interesting new cartoons for your entertainment.

Note: yes, Elizabeth should have written the name down, or gotten the name of the commenter (who was not someone familiar to her), but things tend to be rushed and chaotic at these giant conferences, so it’s easy to slip. Now I’m hoping that someone will recognize the strip from her description (which I’ve paraphrased above).


Odds and ends 5/26/15

May 26, 2015


Inspirational words

May 21, 2015

(A Dilbert, to introduce a recently-finished inventory of Dilbert postings about language matters on Language Log and this blog, here on this blog.)

Yesterday’s Dilbert, in which Dogbert offers a (not very encouraging) inspirational, motivational saying to Dilbert:


This particular aphorism is a quote (“In the long run, we are all dead”) — from John Maynard Keynes in 1923.


On the way to the Emerald City

May 17, 2015

Today’s Bizarro:

A play on the quote “Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!” from the 1939 movie of The Wizard of Oz, in a scene involving Dorothy Gale (the Kansas farm girl), the Scarecrow, and the Tin Man), on the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City.


Four from Jane

May 9, 2015

From Chris Ambidge, four more Jane Austen quotations (three from the novels, one from a letter), probably the last of the set.


Whose quote?

April 10, 2015

Today’s NYT has a nice op-ed piece (“The Wise Words of Maya Angelou. Or Someone, Anyway.”) by lexicographer Erin McKean about quotes and their attributions, on the occasion of the new US stamp honoring Maya Angelou:


One more from Jane

January 21, 2015

From Jane Austen to her niece Fanny Knight, November 18, 1814:

Note that Austen personifies Wit as a woman.

(Thanks to Chris Ambidge.)

“just happy to see me”

December 3, 2014

Today’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

A play on a famous fugitive quotation, widely attributed to Mae West but never actually traced to her.



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