Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category

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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Ten language-y comics

September 13, 2015

On the Comics Kingdom blog on Tuesday the 8th: “Tuesdays Top Ten Comics on Grammar and Wordplay” (with grammar, as usual, understood broadly). CK distributes strips from King Features; it’s one of my regular sources of cartoons for this blog. The strips here are all from 2014-15.

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Giving two hoots

September 1, 2015

A follow-up to my “What a hoot!” posting, which was about a set of senses of hooter that turn out almost surely to be related. One of these is mammary hooters (as in the restaurant’s name), and there’s some question about its history (though it’s clear that it predates the restaurant); there are sources that attribute the item to Steve Martin on Saturday Night Live, but for reasons I’ll expand on here, I was very wary of the idea.

That’s the first hoot.

Then, as so often happens when I post about specific uses of particular lexical items, people wrote me about other uses, which are really beside the point of my posting, or about other items that are merely similar to the target item (usually phonologically). Now it can be entertaining to follow up such associations, but that’s at the risk of losing the point. Occasionally I’ve followed these associations, though I try to mark associative chaining off from the main line of the posting, as when I branched from a posting on Ficus plants to a collection of loosely fig-related other things: the fig leaf of modesty, Fig Newtons, figgy pudding, giving a fig for, the fig sign,

So: soon to loosely hoot-related things. That’s the second hoot.

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Bizarro: use and mention

August 21, 2015

Yesterday’s Bizarro:

The student’s query, as represented by the punctuation in the strip, mentions the words “I” and “you”; the query is about words. The teacher has access only to what the student says (not her intentions as indicated by the punctuation), so the teacher takes the question to be about people, expressed in non-standard subject-verb agreement (“What is you?”) — and the teacher then uses non-standard agreement as well (“I is the teacher”).

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Briefly noted: adopped

August 6, 2015

Heard in an episode of Walker, Texas Ranger:

He’s [ǝdápɪd]. ‘He’s adopted’

Several writers on the net have spelled the form adopped:

My Adopped Cousin Keeps Trying To Have Sex With Me (link)

adopped sister and brother (link)

Are you adopped, are you happy ? (link)

A reanalysis of the phonology of the lexical item, familiar from other cases in the literature.

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