Archive for the ‘Syntax’ Category

Books from Stanford

February 13, 2017

Recent books from Stanford-connected authors, some my colleagues, some my former students (so I have warm feelings). Two in sociolinguistics / educational linguistics, one on the (gasp) morphosyntax-phonology interface.

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re-up syntax

December 28, 2016

From Jon Lighter on ADS-L early in the month:

CNN advises us … to “get re-upped on” our MMR [measles / mumps / rubella] vaccinations. I.e., join the crusade against vaccine avoidance: get the kids their booster shots, you nut-case parents!

And W Brewer recalls the connection to

re-up ‘to re-enlist’ (U.S. military slang), with possibility of getting a re-enlistment bonus

The military usage we’ve looked at on this blog. It goes back over a hundred years, with early cites having especially simple syntax: no object, either direct or oblique, but interpreted as having an oblique object referring to a branch of the service: to re-up understood as ‘to re-enlist in/with (branch of service)’, with the specific branch understood from context. Call this the objectless re-enlistment use.

My earlier posting was primarily focused on the issue of external vs. internal inflection for this verb (PST re-upped vs. re’d-up). Here I’m interested in the syntax and semantics of the verb, getting from the objectless re-enlistment use to the oblique-object renewal use in get re-upped on.

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Three from xkcd

December 13, 2016

Three recent xkcd cartoons: #1767 “US State Names” (goofy play on the names of the states), #1770 “UI Change” (on arbitrary and unannounced changes in user interfaces … and on aging), and #1771 “It Was I” (on pronoun case).

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Language Sunday in the comics

December 12, 2016

Four in my comics feed Sunday morning: a One Big Happy with the derived adjective quotatious; a Zippy on pangrams; a Mother Goose and Grimm with an ambiguity in marine biologist; and a Doonesbury nominally about pronoun choices, but about much more.

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Helping the kid out

December 2, 2016

From the most recent  NYT “Metropolitan Diary” (on-line on the 26th, in the national edition on the 28th), a contribution from Michael Joseloff that begins:

Two teenagers with clipboards were stopping passers-by on the Upper East Side. I was in a hurry to get to the bank, so I tried to maneuver past them and avoid their pitch. No luck.

“Me and my friend are trying to raise money to buy uniforms for our basketball team,” one of the boys began, before rattling on with the rest of his memorized speech. To paraphrase Renée Zellweger in “Jerry Maguire,” he had me at “me and my friend.” He seemed sincere. I decided to help.

I was desperately hoping that he was going to help the kid by making a contribution. But no: he proposed to help by correcting the kid’s grammar.

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Face work

November 27, 2016

(About semen and sex acts and facial expressions and slang and syntax — but, yes, semen is central to the posting, and there’s a lot of talk about sex acts in very plain terms. Only one photo, but it might make some people uneasy. So probably not for children or the sexually modest.)

Over on AZBlogX, a sale ad suggesting that the Lucas porn studio could supply you with a high-protein dessert for Thanksgiving: a splash of semen on your face. Lick and savor.

#1 there shows a man with a cumface, the result of a (cum) facial, the cum / jizz / spunk / cream / spooge supplied via the quite substantial cock also shown in the photo. On AZBlogX there are six more guys who’ve been facialed, who’ve gotten a facial (from a shooter), been given a facial (by a shooter), whose faces have been jizzed / spunked / creamed / spooged (by a shooter).

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Two negatives make a positive

November 19, 2016

The One Big Happy in today’s comics feed:

“Two negatives make a positive” is one way to state a principle of logic, that the negation of the negation of X is equivalent to X. The principle is irrelevant to an account of the syntactic phenomenon that’s popularly called “double negation” (or more generally, “multiple negation”) — often labeled negative concord by linguists — according to which all susceptible elements in a negated clause themselves appear in a negative variant (I didn’t see nobody nowhere, corresponding to standard English I didn’t see anybody anywhere); in languages or varieties or styles with negative concord, two negative elements are just the expression of one negation.

But Joe takes us into new territory, with his novel interpretation — actually, willful misinterpretation —  of the principle of logic (or of algebra, as her father puts it): according to Joe’s interpretation, saying two negative (that is, deprecatory or insulting) things counts conversationally as saying something positive (that is, favorable or complimentary). All to take the opportunity to double down on nastiness.

The Isis files

November 18, 2016

Not the Egyptian goddess, certainly not the Islamic terrorist organization, but instead a phenomenon of English syntax involving an unexpected, extra, form of the lexeme BE, most often resulting in the sequence is is, hence the label Isis. There is now an “Isis: is is, double is” Page on this blog, listing postings on the subject on Language Log and this blog, plus bibliographic resources of several types. The Page is freely available publicly, and (like my other Pages) will be updated and added to as new material comes in.

From a 2007 handout:

{For at least 45 years now (2016)] (Dwight Bolinger’s first example is from 1971), English speakers have been producing sentences with an occurrence of a form of BE that is not licensed in standard English (SE) and is not a disfluency – what I’ll call Extris (“extra is”). There are many subtypes… The Isis (“is is”, “double is’, etc.) subtype has gotten much attention – from Bolinger (1987) [on]…

[Two varieties of Isis:]

[N-type, with a “thingy”-N subject] The thing that’s most interesting about the film is is that it’s…

[PC-type, in a pseudocleft sentence] Basically, what they were trying to tell me was, is that whatever Federal Prison Industries was doing was more important…

Isis is one of those things that people keep rediscovering, and then grope their way through questions that have been pretty well settled for some time. For them, I’d recommend a look at this 2007 handout of mine and at the summary in the Yale Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America page on “Double IS”. Of course, they’d have to know that such resources exist — and that I don’t know how to fix.

Something I missed on NCOD

November 12, 2016

National Coming Out Day was largely a day of personal remembrance for me this year — see my posting here — so I missed a bit of significant lgbt news, with a local twist even. It came to me circuitously, via the (closed) Facebook group Our Bastard Language, in a posting by Lauren Hall, originally on October 11th (NCOD itself), where Lauren reported the Think Different poster she’d seen on Market St. in San Francisco that day. One shot among many available (this one just a bit off Market, but in a famous spot):

(#1)

A variant of Apple’s Think Different ad campaign of some years back, with a silhouette of Squire GrabPussy (as the President-Elect was then) instead of a semicircular bite out of the apple, and with the bands of the Pride Flag instead of Apple’s rainbow colors:

(#2)

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On foot patrol, part 1

August 31, 2016

(Foot patrol, also food patrol.)

Yesterday morning, two expeditions involving my feet: first getting a second pair of shoes (I was edgy having only one; a backup seemed like a good idea) and a replacement pair of slippers (the previous excellent UGGs having disintegrated), and then getting a pedicure (foot care being something I can’t manage on my own).

Part 1 took me to the Palo Alto Footwear etc. store, more or less across the street from two relatively recently opened places to eat, both with remarkable names: Sushirrito (at 448 University Ave.) and Umami Burger (at 452, next door)

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