Archive for the ‘Syntax’ Category

Annals of word retrieval: in promiscuous positions

November 4, 2018

(Warning: embedded in this posting is a bit of — just barely euphemized — taboo vocabulary and the image of a hunky guy in his underwear.)

From Sim Aberson on 10/29, from WSVN, channel 7 in Miami FL:

BSO deputies arrest Dania Beach man in child porn case

Dania Beach, Fla. (WSVN) – Deputies have arrested a Dania Beach man on numerous child pornography charges.

The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested 66-year-old Roger Aiudi on Thursday following a months-long investigation by the agency’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force. Investigators said Aiudi had 13 pornographic images of children and dozens of other images showing children in promiscuous positions.

Well yes, not promiscuous ‘having or characterized by many transient sexual relationships’, but provocative ‘arousing sexual desire or interest, especially deliberately’ (NOAD definitions). This is a very likely sort of word retrieval error, since the words are similar phonologically (sharing the accent pattern WSWW and sharing the initial syllable /prǝ/) and morphologically (both ending in Adj-forming suffixes, –ous vs. –ive) as well as semantically.

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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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Jumping higher than a house

October 2, 2018

The One Big Happy from 9/5 has Ruthie enmeshed in the syntax and semantics of comparison:

The reduced comparative X can jump higher than your house: ‘jump higher than your house is’ (Grandpa’s intended reading), OR ‘jump higher than your house can jump’ (Ruthie’s perceived reading ).

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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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The news for shoes

September 17, 2018

… and toucans, but not, surprisingly, pandas, despite the brand name.

Originally encountered in ads from the Footwear etc. stores (a California chain with a store on University Ave. in Palo Alto): Wanda Panda,

We Are Wanda Panda

Shoes, ankle boots and sandals for women. Made in Spain. [The company’s headquarters are in Alicante, on the Costa Blanca]

Hours of attention: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 – 13:00, 16:00 – 18:00, Friday 9:00 – 13:00 [notably Spanish hours]

Phonemically /wandǝ pændǝ/ in English, apparently involving the bamboo-eating bear Ailuropoda melanoleuca (I have two friends with the panda as a very serious totem animal, so I’m alert to pandas) — but phonemically /wanda panda/ in Spanish, with no allusion to (el) panda ‘panda’ at all; instead the reference is to (la) panda ‘gang, crowd, group of friends’ (in European Spanish slang). And the Wanda Panda mascot is a cartoon toucan (tucán in Spanish):

(#1)

Some notes on the shoes. And then a digression on why Wanda and panda don’t rhyme in English (though they do in Spanish).

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Further adventures with Low Attachment

September 1, 2018

Bonnie Taylor-Blake to ADS-L on 8/10 under the heading “Another zoological crash blossom”:

The headline for a blog post hosted by the Smithsonian:

“Scientists track a mysterious songbird using tiny backpack locators

This reminded me of a favorite from a few years ago, “Public urged to keep track of squirrels with mobiles.” (See Ben Zimmer’s column about this and other crash blossoms [here].)

Two ambiguous headlines that might be understood in an unintended way because of how modifying phrases (underlined above) are attached to preceding material:

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EDM +of +a :PL

August 29, 2018

The example: because of how good of a friends we are (from the Canadian-American tv series The Good Witch, S3 E3, first aired 5/14/17)

An example of a type that’s very hard to search for, so I tend to treasure each one I come across.

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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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Beheaded pizza

July 20, 2018

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

The order presumably involved  the C(ount) Ns regular pepperoni ‘regular pepperoni pizza’ and extra deep-dish ‘extra-pepperoni deep-dish pizza’. But the Joe’s delivery involves the C N extra-deep-dish ‘extra-deep-dish pepperoni pizza’ (not just an ordinary deep-dish pizza, but a really deep deep-dish pizza).

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Avoid needless menu words

July 18, 2018

I continue to explore menu and recipe uses of the Adj Swiss, outside of the conventionalized composites Swiss cheese, Swiss steak, and Swiss chard, all referring to things related in some way to Switzerland. That brought me to the “Signature Burgers” section of the menu at Kirk’s SteakBurgers in the Town & Country shopping center in Palo Alto:

(#1)

Ooh, the Swiss Pub Burger has no cheese at all listed in its ingredients; maybe it’s a pub burger in the Swiss style, or a burger of the sort you’d get at a Swiss pub, but either way, it looks like an appeal to Swissness. Maybe it’s the mushrooms; mushrooms are big in Switzerland.

But no, Swiss here is just a beheaded version of Swiss cheese. The burger does in fact have cheese — Swiss cheese — on it. Then why isn’t Swiss cheese in the ingredients list?

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