Archive for the ‘Aktionsart’ Category

Aspectual distinctions in the comics

July 22, 2018

Today’s Zippy involves a distinction in the interpretation of the VP own thirty-one muu-muus:

Does Zippy happen to own (only) 31 muu-muus at the moment? Griffy asks how many muu-muus Zippy owns, and that’s what Zippy apparently says in reply.

Or is Zippy’s way of life such that he always has (only) 31 muu-muus in his possession? That would indeed predict that Zippy has (only) 31 at the moment, but it would also predict that if you took one away, he’d have to get a new one to replace it, and that if you gave him a new one, he’d have to get rid of an old one — all to maintain the stable state of owning 31 muu-muus. That’s what Zippy says in his reply.

The distinction is aspectual, corresponding very roughly to the circumstances in which you’d choose a ‘to be’ verb in Spanish: estar (roughly) for temporary situations, not necessarily extending beyond the reference time period (hence mutable, contingent), ser (roughly) for enduring, even permanent situations, extending through time before and after the reference time period (hence unchanging, even necessary).

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Just a hijink

June 28, 2018

The Adam@home strip from June 5th (recommended to me by Robert Coren):

(#1)

It’s all about this hijink, with SG hijink, (roughly) ‘joke, bit of playfulness’. The usage is rare.

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Up in every way

February 13, 2018

“Nothing can stop me, I’m all the way up”, the song goes, and it manages to pack a whole bagful of uses of up into a few verses.

(#1) “All the Way Up”, with drugs, bitches and hoes, sex (“I’m that nigga on Viagra dick”), bling, success

And then Mountain Dew (the soft drink) extracted just a bit of the song for its own purposes.

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Ruthie verbs

December 5, 2017

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed:

(#1)

Ruthie’s taken the predicative idiom in cahoots (with) — Dad is in cahoots with Joe, Dad and Joe are in cahoots — and extracted from it (by back-formation) a noun cahoot, which she then verbs, to get an activity verb cahoot with rather than the stative be in cahoots with.

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missing it

May 13, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm:

(#1)

Ok, a simple ambiguity. The relevant subsenses of the transitive verb miss, from NOAD2, with my sense id codes:

— in the set of 12 failure-miss senses:
[1f] fail to attend, participate in, or watch (something one is expected to do or habitually does): teachers were supposed to report those students who missed class that day. [Mother Goose’s sense]

— in the set of 3 absence-miss senses:
[2c] feel regret or sadness at no longer being able to go to, do, or have: I still miss France and I wish I could go back. [Grimm’s sense, a willful misunderstanding of Mother Goose]

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