Archive for the ‘Syntax’ Category

Is Timmy in trouble?

May 16, 2019

The Wayno/Piraro Bizarro from the 14th shows us Lassie trying to deliver a message about Timmy:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 2 in this strip — see this Page.)

Ah, a variant of the Lassie-Timmy cartoon meme. With a play on the senses of be in trouble. From various dictionaries:

(i) ‘in a problematic situation or state of hardship’
(ii) ‘in peril, danger’
(iii) ‘subject to or due for punishment’
(iv) (euph.) ‘pregnant and unmarried’

In the usual cartoon meme, Timmy is in trouble in sense (i) or (ii) — classically, he has fallen down a well — but in #1, it’s sense (iii). I haven’t found an instance of the meme that bends gender to take advantage of sense (iv), but it’s certainly imaginable. (And for a possibility torn from the headlines, if you’re in trouble in sense (iv) and get an abortion, in Alabama you’re now in trouble in sense (iii).)

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Not 2-1S, but 1-3P

May 10, 2019

Today’s notable NomConjObj, from MSNBC reporter Garrett Haake in Clyde OH (a Whirlpool appliance company town), talking about the effect of tariff increases on appliance dealers, with reference to:

… the price disparity between they and their competitors

Oh my, a nominative conjoined object about as far from the central examples of the construction as you can get (so not in my selective NomConjObj files): 1-3P between they and their competitors (pronoun in 1st position, 3rd person pronoun, singular pronoun) rather than the very common 2-1S (as in between my competitors and I). One for the files!

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get ’em, stop it, gimme

May 4, 2019

Among the everyday examples of a phenomenon subjected to analysis in an awesome new paper by Joan Bresnan, “On Weak Object Pronouns in English”, which she will present at the Lexical Functional Grammar conference this July in Canberra (LFG2019, 8-10 July, sponsored by the ARC’s [Australian Research Council] Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, program on-line here).

Joan’s paper is a demonstration of what can be done with serious resources — really big databases, serious statistical tools, complex analytic tools — in investigating  very ordinary, but intricately structured, phenomena, and in how you might try to integrate the approaches of usage-based frameworks with those of formal grammar.

For me the paper has a special resonance, because the analysis develops some ideas of mine in a little note from 1986 that appeared only in a working papers volume and has mostly gone unnoticed since then: “The Unaccented Pronoun Constraint in English” (OSU Working Papers in Linguistics 32.100-113, 1986).

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NomConjObj in the New Yorker

April 30, 2019

The steamroller of language change chugs on, even through the famously factchecked and copyedited precincts of the New Yorker. From the keyboard of the magazine’s ideas editor, Joshua Rothman, in the 1/21/19 issue, in the article “The art of decision-making: Your life choices aren’t just about what you want to do; they’re about who you want to be”, in a section where Rothman and his wife face decisions about becoming parents (p. 31 in the print edition; relevant passage boldfaced, crucial phrase underlined):

Before we had our son, I began exploring the “near face” of being a parent. I noticed how cute babies and children could be and pictured our spare room as a nursery; I envisaged my wife and I taking our child to the beach near our house (my version of “entering the warm light of a concert hall on a snowy evening”). I knew that these imaginings weren’t the real facts about having children — clearly, there was more to having kids than cuteness. All the same, I had no way of grasping the “distant face” of fatherhood. It was something I aspired to know.

This is the first NomConjObj — nominative personal pronoun form in a conjoined object — that I’ve noticed in plain (not quoted) text in the New Yorker; there are in fact no New Yorker examples in my database of NomConjObj examples. Meanwhile, I believe the editors of the magazine have deprecated the construction as a vulgar error, so it’s notable. It’s not at all surprising to me that Rothman wrote that sentence, but it’s telling that it wasn’t changed in editing. I will explain.

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The self-published book

April 25, 2019

In the recently published The Ultimate Cartoon Book of Book Cartoons —

(#1)

edited by New Yorker cartoonist Bob Eckstein (a regular visitor on this blog), this Ed Koren (who’s also on this blog):

(#2)

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Sluicing in Chicago

April 12, 2019

For a while now, I’ve been wrestling with the affirmative exclamation and how! (Do you like the soup? –And how!), which I’d thought of as uncomplicated but turned out to lead me down several rabbit holes (my life is studded with experiences like this one). One of which involves the ellipsis-under-identity construction known as Sluicing.

Then, as it happens, there’s a conference now going on — today and tomorrow — at the University of Chicago on “Sluicing and Ellipsis at 50”, celebrating the ground-breaking paper on Sluicing, presented at the spring 1969 meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society and then published in the CLS proceedings: Haj Ross’s “Guess Who?”

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Athletica Sport Dick, how I admire thee

April 9, 2019

(Today’s Daily Jocks dude — call him Jock — showing off his lean muscled body in nothing but a Helsinki Athletica Sport jock, while earnestly appreciating his gorgeous penis (not shown here). Lots of penis-talk, eventually some notes on sculpture — but of naked athletes. Kids and the sexually modest might want to avoid the scene.)

Beautiful penis, wake unto me,
Arousal and dewdrops I am waiting from thee

(#1)

Do you have a dick that you really love,
One that you feel so groovy with?
You don’t even mind if it’s a bit worn,
That only makes it nicer still.
I love my dick, I love my dick,
My dick is so comfortably lovely.

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Science, charity, and adverbial ambiguity

April 5, 2019

Through a chain of people on Facebook, who passed it from one hand to another, this painting (captioned by an unknown wag):

(#1)

Ah, in a different genre of art, a version of this joke that I’ve posted on a couple of times:


(#2) A One Big Happy strip

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The moving sale

March 21, 2019

From Karen Chung on Facebook a while back, this complex pun in the 9/25/15 Bizarro, illustrating (among other things) a nice contrast in accentual patterns: front stress (or forestress), the default for N + N compounds, in MOVING saleback stress (or afterstress), the default in Adj + N nominals, in moving SALE:


(#1) (If you’re puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon — Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip — see this Page.)

So the hinge of the pun is the ambiguity of moving: as N, (roughly) ‘the act or process of changing residence’; or as Adj, (roughly) ‘causing strong emotion, esp. of sadness’ (both senses are ultimately semantic developments from the simple motion verb move, intransitive or transitive; but they are now clearly distinct lexical items). Then from the difference in syntactic category follows the difference in accentual pattern.

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V me, I’m Irish

March 17, 2019

(Men’s bodies and tons of mansex — anal, anal, anal — in street language. No actual penises on display, but nevertheless absolutely not for kids or the sexually modest.)

Padraig porn for the day:


(#1) The TitanMen gay porn sale for this weekend: Kiss me, I’m Irish

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