Over the past three months, contributors to ADS-L have been looking at a series of English examples involving of in English modifier constructions, in what I’ve called EDM (Exceptional Degree Modification) and closely related constructions. (ODM — Ordinary Degree Modification — in a very big dog, EDM in [-of] how big a dog and [+of] how big of a dog.) Most of the examples are ones I’ve discussed in ADS-L or Language Log postings over the years and then posted about on this blog, but this history seems to have vanished from the group’s memory, so we get fresh reports of old phenomena, sigh. I have now assembled a Page on this blog with an inventory of some postings on EDM and related phenomena, along with quotes from and comments on the postings. Unfortunately, people can’t consult this resource if they don’t know about it. I don’t know any way to fix that, but I’m not going to repeat discussions of EDM from my publications and postings over the past 20 years. Instead, I’ll make brief references to this material, reminders that this stuff is out there (and easily accessible).
Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category
Morning name on the 8th: Park Overall, the actor.
It started with Lauren Hall-Lew (an American in Edinburgh) reporting on her daughter’s query about BrE and AmE on head band. Commenters brought in hair band, hair bobble, and scrunchie, and I mentioned sweatbands for sports use, which come as wrist bands and head bands.
I was eventually led to websites selling not just sweatbands, but rainbow sweatbands, and that led me to some more rainbow sportswear, in particular tube socks. So it turned into a gay rainbow day. (There’s a firm called, wonderfully, Pride Socks.)
On the Comics Kingdom blog on Tuesday the 8th: “Tuesdays Top Ten Comics on Grammar and Wordplay” (with grammar, as usual, understood broadly). CK distributes strips from King Features; it’s one of my regular sources of cartoons for this blog. The strips here are all from 2014-15.
A follow-up to my “What a hoot!” posting, which was about a set of senses of hooter that turn out almost surely to be related. One of these is mammary hooters (as in the restaurant’s name), and there’s some question about its history (though it’s clear that it predates the restaurant); there are sources that attribute the item to Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live, but for reasons I’ll expand on here, I was very wary of the idea.
That’s the first hoot.
Then, as so often happens when I post about specific uses of particular lexical items, people wrote me about other uses, which are really beside the point of my posting, or about other items that are merely similar to the target item (usually phonologically). Now it can be entertaining to follow up such associations, but that’s at the risk of losing the point. Occasionally I’ve followed these associations, though I try to mark associative chaining off from the main line of the posting, as when I branched from a posting on Ficus plants to a collection of loosely fig-related other things: the fig leaf of modesty, Fig Newtons, figgy pudding, giving a fig for, the fig sign,
So: soon to loosely hoot-related things. That’s the second hoot.
The student’s query, as represented by the punctuation in the strip, mentions the words “I” and “you”; the query is about words. The teacher has access only to what the student says (not her intentions as indicated by the punctuation), so the teacher takes the question to be about people, expressed in non-standard subject-verb agreement (“What is you?”) — and the teacher then uses non-standard agreement as well (“I is the teacher”).
Heard in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger:
He’s [ǝdápɪd]. ‘He’s adopted’
Several writers on the net have spelled the form adopped:
My Adopped Cousin Keeps Trying To Have Sex With Me (link)
adopped sister and brother (link)
Are you adopped, are you happy ? (link)
A reanalysis of the phonology of the lexical item, familiar from other cases in the literature.
(Waiting to be posted since early June, sigh.)
The abstract for a thesis defense in Stanford Linguistics, on June 9th:
Consistency in Variation
by Robin Melnick
From the NYT Sunday Review on the 5th, in Nicholas Kristof’s column “Tales of Horror Should Galvanize Obama” (p. 9):
South Sudan is rived by civil war and collapsing economically
The PSP rived of the rare verb rive caught my eye; only riven would have been acceptable to me. In fact, for me, the verb is interestingly defective.
From the 5/30 Economist, in “Republicans in name aussi” on Nicolas Sarkozy:
Even if the relaunch succeeds, however, Mr Sarkozy will have his work cut out.
Pretty clearly, the intention here is to convey ‘will have his work cut out for him’, that is ‘will have difficulty completing his work’, with the idiom have one’s work cut out for one, but here in a truncated variant. The shorter variant is simply not possible for me, though I can figure it out. It turns out that the shorter variant is specifically British. (Remember that the Economist is a British publication.)