Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category

Two in One Big Happy

January 27, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips: one with an outrageous pun from Ruthie and Joe’s father, one with Ruthie once again attempting to engage the neighbor boy James on his grammar:

(#1)

(#2)

If you’re a bit puzzled by James’s “Ain’t nobody going!” in #2, you have a right to be.

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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.

Two cartoons for month’s end

October 31, 2016

.. and Halloween, though, pleasingly, neither has anything to do with All Hallows’ / All Souls’ / All Saints’. A One Big Happy that’s a study in American (and Antipodal) phonology; and a Zippy with a fallen roadside fiberglass hero, the Green Giant of Pahrump NV:

(#1)

(#2)

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Zippy goes out to catch a bite

October 15, 2016

… in two recent strips, first at Dippin’ Donuts and then at the Sugar Shack. Looks like sweet tooth days for our Pinhead. Both strips are strewed with allusions of all kinds, of course.

(#1)

(#2)

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Pronoun case in the Thames Valley CID

July 27, 2016

From S4 E4 (“Masonic Mysteries”) of the ITV detective procedural tv show Inspector Morse, an exchange between Morse and his sergeant, Lewis:

(1) Morse: It’s me he wants, it’s me he’s going to get, or rather, it’s me that’s going to get him…

(2) Lewis: Shouldn’t that be: “It’s I who am going to get him”?

It’s all about pronoun case (Acc me vs. Nom I) in it-clefts: roughly, identifying clauses with

subject it, a main verb BE, a predicative NP, and a relative clause missing an NP (the relative clause can have relativizer ∅, that, or a WH-pronoun like who)

— in these instances, clauses supplying the answer to the questions “Who does he want? Who is he going to get? Who’s going to get him?”

And, this being Britain, it’s also all about social class.

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Cartoony days

June 2, 2016

(This takes a turn to sexual politics that some — though not, I think, Bill Griffith — might find surprising.)

Today’s Zippy offers us some office soap opera between boss (Don) and employee (Ms. Carlisle), from the point of view of Ms. Carlisle:

(#1)

The topic is a familiar one in Zippyland: cartoonishness or cartooniness, indicated by various physical characteristics — noses, eyes, eyebrows, ears, jawlines, and mouths. In Zippyland, of course, everyone’s a cartoon character and they’re all dressed like one, but some of them are “realistic”, normal, regular folks,, while others are flagrantly cartoony.

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Ain’t it the truth?

April 5, 2016

In today’s feed, this One Big Happy from 3/7:

  (#1)

The linguistic point: Ruthie’s mother’s “Ain’t it the truth?” — ain’t in the speech of someone who almost surely isn’t otherwise a user of this word. Instead, she’s playfully quoting a very widespread non-standardism, much as if she’d said “C’est vrai!” or “Veritable!”, in French, in the middle of an English conversation, conveying the equivalent of informal “That’s for sure!” or “You said it!”

The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2002) has an entry for “Ain’t it the truth” as a conventionalized expression, both in non-standard varieties and as an importation into informal standard speech:

Rur. or Jocular That is true.; Isn’t that true? (Used to agree with a statement someone has made.) Jane: I swear, life can be a trial sometimes. Bill: Yes, Lordy. Ain’t it the truth?

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Fun with EDM

January 23, 2016

Over the past three months, contributors to ADS-L have been looking at a series of English examples involving of in English modifier constructions, in what I’ve called EDM (Exceptional Degree Modification) and closely related constructions. (ODM — Ordinary Degree Modification — in a very big dog, EDM in [-of]  how big a dog and [+ofhow big of a dog.) Most of the examples are ones I’ve discussed in ADS-L or Language Log postings over the years and then posted about on this blog, but this history seems to have vanished from the group’s memory, so we get fresh reports of old phenomena, sigh. I have now assembled a Page on this blog with an inventory of some postings on EDM and related phenomena, along with quotes from and comments on the postings. Unfortunately, people can’t consult this resource if they don’t know about it. I don’t know any way to fix that, but I’m not going to repeat discussions of EDM from my publications and postings over the past 20 years. Instead, I’ll make brief references to this material, reminders that this stuff is out there (and easily accessible).

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Morning Name: Park Overall

December 10, 2015

Morning name on the 8th: Park Overall, the actor.

(#1)

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headband

October 5, 2015

It started with Lauren Hall-Lew (an American in Edinburgh) reporting on her daughter’s query about BrE and AmE on head band. Commenters brought in hair band, hair bobble, and scrunchie, and I mentioned sweatbands for sports use, which come as wrist bands and head bands.

I was eventually led to websites selling not just sweatbands, but rainbow sweatbands, and that led me to some more rainbow sportswear, in particular tube socks. So it turned into a gay rainbow day. (There’s a firm called, wonderfully, Pride Socks.)

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