Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category

Wild Asia in Sonoma

September 14, 2017

Tuesday morning on KRCB (NPR station in Sonoma CA), a brief piece about the Quarryhill Botanical Garden there and a forthcoming Quarryhill lecture by Andrea Wulf, author of a recent book on Alexander von Humboldt. The garden was new to me, as was the book, and both are fascinating, but what mostly got my attention was the reporter’s pronunciation of quarry — with accented æ, to rhyme (in my variety of English) with Larry, Harry, carry, and marry.

(more…)

Fixing things

July 9, 2017

Yesterday’s Mother Goose and Grimm, featuring the computer dogs (the bull terrier Grimm at the keyboard, the Boston terrier Ralph advising him):

(#1)

To understand this strip, you need to know about keyboard shortcuts on a Mac computer, in particular the combination

Command-Z: Undo the previous command. You can then press Command-Shift-Z to Redo, reversing the undo command.

⌘-Z undoes, or reverses, keyboard actions. In the cartoon, the dimwitted Ralph suggests using this computer key combination to reverse events in general — in this case, the falling of the lamp to the floor and the breaking that resulted from the fall. ⌘-Z will fix it!

If only.

(more…)

Non-standard sex talk

May 26, 2017

I’ll start with the steamy gay sex talk from an on-line messaging site — sensitive readers are hereby warned about this content — and then go on to focus on a non-standard syntactic construction in this exchange, what the YGDP (the Yale University Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America) calls the Needs Washed construction (using as a label an instance of the instruction), involving a PSP complement of a head V.

(more…)

Ruthie faces the unfamiliar, again

May 19, 2017

The One Big Happy in my comics feed today:

Rockefellers / rocky fellows. How was Ruthie to know her grandmother was using a proper name? And fellers is a familiar dialect variant for fellows – and an old one (Americans have been labeling feller an “impropriety” or “provincialism”, with an “excrescent” r, since at least 1795, according to DARE).

Ruthie undoubtedly also didn’t know that the Rockefeller family has long been seen as the richest family in the world, hence as the, um, gold standard of wealth. Which gives We’re no / not Rockefellers as an idiom meaning, roughly, ‘We’re not rich’.

(more…)

Words. words, words

May 7, 2017

From a King Features Comics Kingdom posting on the 3rd, “Ask a Cartoonist: Words to Live By” (by tea), three cartoons on words in comics: a Dustin on adolescent sniggering over potential double entendres and two Zippys about repeating words for sheer pleasure.

(more…)

Chub and chums in the morning

April 17, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was chub (the name of a fish), which led me to the rest of the bilabial-final family: chum, chump, and chup. (And that led to the velar-final family chug, Chung, chunk, chuck, but I won’t pursue that one here.) As it is, the bilabials will lead us into many surprising places, including the Hardy Boys books, eyewear retainers, Australian dog food, gay slurs, and hunky underwear models.

(more…)

Corey Saucier

April 2, 2017

… the male model, in body-display, rather than fashion-display, mode — so only a little about language. On the other hand, this posting is, in word and image, at least technically SFW (though homo-steamy).

It begins with a Facebook comment from Ken Rudolph about image #1 in my “Hitchhiking” posting of yesterday:

(#1)

Ken asked:

Who is #1? And where did that still come from…it looks more like a regular movie than a porn.

Not any kind of movie, but a posed still done by a professional photographer (as are, I think, #2-7 in my hitchhiking posting, and the three photos in the accompanying AZBlogX posting). Meanwhile, a Google Images search led me to Saucier.

(more…)

“depriving healthcare for millions”

March 8, 2017

Noted by Wilson Gray on ADS-L on Monday, from his reading on Facebook. Wilson commented:

Remember the days of yore when people wrote: “depriving  millions of health-care”?

The implicit analysis here is that the ordinary argument structure (hereafter, argstr) for the verb deprive has a Direct Object referring to a POSSESSOR in an act of deprivation, and an Oblique Object (marked by the P of) referring to a POSSESSION in this act. In abbreviated form: deprive has the argstr:

(1) SU: AGENT, DO: POSSESSOR, OO(of): POSSESSION

with the semantics that AGENT causes POSSESSOR to come to no longer have POSSESSION.

But the Facebook sentence has an argstr with a Direct Object referring to a POSSESSION and an Oblique Object (marked by the P for) referring to a POSSESSOR:

(2) SU: AGENT, DO: POSSESSION, OO(for): POSSESSOR

with the same semantics as in (1).

Now, alternative argstrs for the same verb are very common; the question is which verbs have which structures. Wilson’s judgment (which I share) is that deprive is fine in structure (1) — deprive millions of health-care — but not in structure (2) — deprive health-care for millions. (Divest is similar to deprive here.)

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.