Archive for the ‘Pragmatics’ Category

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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What room am I in?

October 20, 2018

This photoon passed on to me by Karen Chung on Facebook (I have no idea of its ultimate source):

(#1)

Context, context, context.

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What’s he like?

October 18, 2018

In today’s comics feed, the One Big Happy for September 21st:

Playground Lady intends a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V is + a predicative PP headed by the P like ‘similar to’. Ruthie, ever keen on the reading not intended, hears a WH question with (a reduced variant of) the auxiliary V does (a PRS form of the V lexeme DO) + a complement VP headed by the BSE form like of the V lexeme LIKE ‘find enjoyable’. What is he like? (possible answer: He’s short and blond and funny-looking ) vs. What does he like? (possible answer: He likes playing video games).

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Attaching an 8-page essay at Wheaton College

September 30, 2018

Reported back on the 19th, a stunner of a 2017 headline about Wheaton College (IL) events dating back to 2016. First, the story from a source other than the one that produced the remarkable headline: from the Daily Mail (UK) by Jennifer Smith on 2/14/18: “Christian college ‘punished’ football players who ‘kidnapped, beat and sexually assaulted’ freshman in brutal hazing ritual by asking them to write an eight-page essay and complete community service”:

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Briefly noted 9/27/18: a remarkable name

September 27, 2018

The Palo Alto Medical Foundation periodically revises the format for its on-line statements, including after visit summaries to its physicians and labs. As far as I can tell, every such software upgrade arrives with bugs, sometimes spectacular ones; this is, after, the way of software the world over.

So it was with recent after visit summaries, in which my name at the top was given as

Dr. Zwicky M. Zwicky

I have an idea about how this might have come about. Probably not verifable, since it involves decisions by two different people, neither of whom could easily be identified.

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“The hell is that guy doing?”: predator-truncated QuEx

August 23, 2018

The word from predators, in this Jake Likes Onions cartoon (by Jake Thompson):


(#1) Title: “Maybe he’s running from the truth”

Predator 2 omits the what of what the hell (in a Wh, or constituent, question What is that guy doing? with the question word what emphatically extended by the expletive the hell).

About the syntax, and then about the strip and the artist…

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Asking questions and giving commands

August 21, 2018

The text for the day is a dialogue posted on Facebook on the 19th by John Beavers (a guitarist who moonlights as a linguistics professor at the University of Texas, Austin), between John’s son Ezra and John’s wife / Ezra’s mother Janice Ta:


Ezra on his 3rd birthday (July 28th)

Ezra: Mommy, do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?

Janice: Yes, they do! You’re very good at rhyming. Do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

Ezra: No. You’re not very good at rhyming.

Ah, a significant ambiguity in the use of interrogative sentences: between information-seeking interrogatives (infoseek questions, I’ll call them), like Ezra’s do “boy” and “toy” rhyme?; and examination interrogatives (test questions, I’ll call them; they’re also known as quiz questions), like Janice’s do “boy” and “man” rhyme?

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