Archive for the ‘Pragmatics’ Category

individuals, people, persons

February 13, 2019

From a mail pointer to a 1/30/19 article in the journal Psychological Science, “Similarity Grouping as Feature-Based Selection” by Dian Yu, Xiao Xiao, Douglas K. Bemis, & Steven L. Franconeri:

Individuals perceive objects with similar features (i.e., color, orientation, shape) as a group even when those objects are not grouped in space.

Point at issue: individuals rather than people, a mark of a consciously formal, “scientific” way of writing, appropriate (some believe) for reporting on research in psychology.

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French 2sg pronouns

February 10, 2019

On the Language Nerd Facebook page yesterday, this playfully framed, but seriously intended, flowchart, “Your guide to being polite in French”, for choosing between the 2sg pronouns tu (‘familiar’) and vous (‘polite’) in current French — a bow to the treatment of T and V pronouns in Brown & Gilman 1960:

(#1)

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Better than ABC order

February 2, 2019

Once again, Ruthie grapples with ABC order, in the January 6th One Big Happy:

(#1)

The larger context: test tasks for kids, and what they’re for. Eventually this will take us to queens.

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The natural history of snowclones

February 1, 2019

The title of an abstract of mine for the 20th Stanford SemFest (Semantics Festival), to take place on March 15th and 16th (the Ides of March and National Panda Day, respectively). The SemFests feature reports (primarily 20-minute presentations, plus 10-minute question periods)

on recent work on any topic touching on meaning broadly construed, ranging from traditional topics in semantics and pragmatics to social meaning to natural language understanding and beyond

This posting is primarily about my snowclone paper, but there will also be some very personal reflections on the conference and its significance in my academic life.

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Playful anaphoric islanding

January 18, 2019

Adrienne Shapiro on Facebook on the 14th, reporting on a day trip from Seattle with Kit Transue:

Cape Disappointment did not [understood: disappoint].

An instance of the anaphoric construction VPE (Verb Phrase Ellipsis) in which the antecedent for the ellipted material is not an actual expression in the preceding text, but instead is merely evoked by a word-part in this text, the disappoint inside the nominalization disappointment. The configuration requires some processing work on the part of a reader (or hearer) — it presents a kind of puzzle for you to solve — so it’s jokey, likely to elicit a smile from you, in admiration of Adrienne’s condensed cleverness.

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Annals of indirection

January 1, 2019

Chip Dunham’s Overboard strip from December 28th:


(#1) Captain Crow and his dog Louie

An exercise in both syntax/semantics and semantics/pragmatics: on syntactic constructions and their semantics, and on the indirect conveying of meaning in context.

Above, what will become example (c) in the syntactic discussion:

(c) I don’t think I’ve told you today what a wonderful dog you are

which will lead to a related example, Sir Van Morrison’s song line in (d):

(d) Have I told you lately that I love you?

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Yoo-hoo, Aargau!

December 15, 2018

It started at the Peninsula Creamery in Palo Alto at breakfast (with Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky) this morning, quickly led to a chocolate beverage from northern New Jersey (and to manner-of-speaking verbs) and after a whirlwind worldwide beverage tour ended up with an echt-Swiss dairy soft drink from Canton Aargau, Switzerland (up north, on the flatlands near the Rhine).

The impetus for all this, a vintage advertising poster on the wall at the Creamery:


(#1) ASK FOR IT by NAME: Yoo-hoo

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Smoke from an island

December 11, 2018

An anaphoric island. The smoke signalling another Page on this blog for anaphoric islands. Created back on 5/27/15, an Anaphoric islands Page, with links to postings about anaphoric islands (like this one). Now, today, a new Page with examples of them.

Today’s example was distributed to an informal group of anaphoric islanders (we collect the things — hey, it’s an innocent hobby) by one of our number, Larry Horn, who noted it back in the 1970s. Out of context, it’s a real challenge to interpret:

(1) I don’t think that non-smokers should have to put up with people who do

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O happy day! Annals of hypallage 2018

December 6, 2018

Three bulletins on hypallage on the net: a Page on this blog; a review of some net and media discussion from 2007-09; and recent Facebook discussion of a class of cases that I’ll refer to as food-source hypallage.

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A word for it: teknonymy

November 13, 2018

On the Linguistic Typology mailing list recently, David Gil (Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena, Germany) relayed a query from a friend:

Teknonymy is the phenomenon in which a parent is referred to by the name of his or her children.  For example, my father was addressed and referred to by his Arabic-speaking friends as “Abu Daud”, or ‘father of David’. Teknonymy is attested in many different cultures around the world.

In at least some Arab societies, teknonymy interacts with gender in the following way. Whereas men, once assigned a teknonym, may still be addressed or referred to by their original name, women who are assigned a teknonym [like Umm Malik ‘mother of Malik’] may no longer be addressed or referred to by their original name — their original name is simply lost.

My question: Is anybody familiar with similar cases of gender asymmetry in teknonyms in other languages/societies?

I was familiar with the phenomenon, but didn’t have a name for it. Now I have several.

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