Another 100k spams

… just came up on this blog. Since I last reported on the crowds of spam comments here, in my 10/20/18 posting “Numbers and names” (“The number of pieces of comments spam on this blog … passed 5.5 million a little while ago”).

Well, on the 3rd, when I first checked, some 5,600,601  had accumulated since this blog started in December 2008. At the moment, there’s an attack underway from a site with a clever strategy for evading spam recognition programs, so I’m getting more than a thousand new spam comments a day..

Meanwhile, there’s a certain amount of entertainment in the ebbs and flows in the views of postings on this blog — which will lead me eventually to some remarks on location expressions in the world’s language.

The title. A play on:

(#1) … at another hundred people who got off of the plane /
and are looking at us (Stephen Sondheim, “Another Hundred People” from Company (1970))

Views. General comments on the stats about views of this blog in my 12/3/17 posting “Who views what”.

The oft-viewed list includes some evergreen favorites — “The body and its parts”, “Sexting with emoji”, “An eruption of bromanteaus”, “An old joke” — whose position in the list is pretty much ensured by the fact that new viewers on the blog are directed to postings that have accumulated the most viewers, so that the rich will keep getting richer.

Meanwhile, for a few days or so, new postings will get a fair number of views.

And then, for whatever reason, someone will cite an old posting of mine someplace that attracts the attention of some specialist audience, and for a while that posting zooms up in views. Sometimes the effect is easily explicable, as when, in the past week, the number of views of “No te vayas de Zamboanga” has soared, along with the number of viewers from the Philippines. I have no idea what triggered the surges in “Let slip the dogs of Japan” (on Japanese hot dog food) and “Rainbow bull” (with a Mallorcan bull figure in rainbow colors).

Then there’s the case of my 2/27 posting “Body-location, event-location”, on the distinction between two quite different answers to the question Where were you hurt?”:  “In the stomach” (body-location) vs. “In a health club” (event-location). I speculated on possible connections between this distinction and the distinction between inalienable and alienable possession and floated

the possibility that in some languages the distinction between body-location adverbials and event-location adverbials might be explicitly marked, by the choice of different case forms or different adpositions. Or by different lexical choices — with, say, a body-location where vs. a morphologically unrelated event-location where (interrogative, as above, or relative, as in the place where I was hurt). No doubt there’s literature on the subject.

I posted a link to “Body-location, event-location” on the Lingtyp (Linguistic Typology) mailing list, which sparked a gigantic spike in views of it, quite astonishing. But I got no responses, of any kind, and wondered on Lingtyp if maybe there wasn’t a literature on the subject. I still wonder.

I did eventually get some nice references on semantic distinctions in inalienable possession and their realization in syntactic constructions. Not exactly what I was looking for, but still thought-provoking.

External Possession. From Stephen Matthews (in Hong Kong), a link on the John Benjamins site to the 1999 book External Possession, ed. by Doris L.Payne & Immanuel Barshi. With this summary:

External Possession Constructions (EPCs) are found in nearly all parts of the world and across widely divergent language families. The data-rich papers in this first-ever volume on EPCs document their typological variability, explore diachronic reasons for variations, and investigate their functions and theoretical ramifications. EPCs code the possessor as a core grammatical relation of the verb and in a constituent separate from that which contains the possessed item. Though EPCs express possession, they do so without the necessary involvement of a possessive predicate such as “have” or “own”. In many cases, EPCs appear to “break the rules” about how many arguments a verb of a given valence can have. They thus constitute an important limiting case for evaluating theories of the relationship between verbal argument structure and syntactic clause structure. They also raise core questions about intersections among verbal valence, cognitive event construal, voice, and language processing.

From Wikipedia:

Inalienable possession can also be marked with external possession. Such are constructions have the possessor appearing outside the determiner phrase. For example, the possessor may appear as a dative complement of the verb.

French exhibits both external possessor construction and internal possessor construction…


Conceptualization of the body and its parts. From Simon Devylder (in Lund, Sweden), a link to the open-source text of his 2017 article “Cutting and breaking the embodied Self” in the journal CogniTextes16. With the abstract:

This paper analyzes the Cutting and Breaking (C&B) events affecting the tangible aspects of the personal domain, that is to say the body and its parts. The study of the embodied Self, as the affected theme of C&B events, provides a unique opportunity to contribute to the understanding of the conceptualization of the personal domain, as well as providing an additional distinction between cut-verbs and break-verbs [and a distinction between inalienably possessed bodyparts, like fingers, and alienably possessed ones, like fingernails]. First, I propose to re-analyze three arguments of the C&B literature under the light of Talmy’s different levels of synthesis (2000). I propose that cut-verbs can be distinguished from break-verbs based on the level of synthesis of the affected theme they encode. I support this argument with a corpus-based analysis of a series of syntactic-semantic tests. Second, while English does not have morphosyntactic strategies to make a distinction between alienable and inalienable possessions, I argue that the participation of C&B events affecting the corporeal Self to specific argument structure alternations (causatives – reflexives – possessor raising [yielding External Possession constructions]) shows that the distinction is syntactically encoded in the English language. Third, I analyze a testimony of a FGC/FGM victim and demonstrate the sociocultural relevance of the distinction proposed in this paper.

All this from the interface between semantics / pragmatics and syntax is fascinating, but doesn’t begin to touch the question of whether there are languages that use different case morphology, or different adpositions, for body-location vs. event-location.

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