Archive for the ‘Word order’ Category

The perils of fronting

July 4, 2012

A recent Scott Hilburn cartoon, from George Takei on Facebook (via Betsy Herrington):

For Yoda, with his penchant for fronting material in sentences, that was in the form of a question — just not a question in standard English.


The young Yoda

June 25, 2012

Today’s Rhymes With Orange:

An earlier Rhymes on Yoda’s syntax, complete with links to Language Log postings on the subject, is here. Here we see the early days.


December 27, 2009

Louis W. Thompson had an op-ed piece in the NYT on Christmas Eve (“The Finest Gifts It Brings”) on “The Little Drummer Boy” (“Yes, torture can be set to music”, Thompson wrote). It’s a little masterpiece of annoying Christmas music.

There’s the relentless drumbeat of “rum pum pum pum”, 21 repetitions per play. There’s the overall tone — in Thompson’s words, “exalted …, pompous, candied, reverential.” And then there’s the syntax. Thompson quoted:

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A newborn king to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum

and added:

Backwards run sentences until reels the mind.

More on this sentence later. First, some comments on the syntax of the sentences from the song.