Thursday, April 27, 2006
‘Additional accusatives in Latin and Ancient Greek: Arguments against arguments’
Additional accusatives in Latin and Ancient Greek: Arguments against arguments
Abstract. In Latin and Ancient Greek we find accusatives in places where one would not expect them: as complements of intransitive verbs and adjectives and as second complements of transitive verbs. In this paper we argue on the basis of a variety of evidence that these additional accusatives should not be analyzed as direct objects, but rather as predicate modifiers. In this way we can maintain the basic distinction between intransitive and transitive verbs.
Department of Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen
Peter de Swart
Department of Linguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen
‘On Language’ 4/26 - These invented words didn’t come ‘gladually’
Doctopus: Veterinarian specializing in cephalopods.
Meteurology: The science of predicting the weather based on bladder habits.
Mistery: Inexplicable unhappiness.
Stragedy: A detailed plan for handling a catastrophe.
—Ted Mellow, Buffalo Grove
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
‘Yours, Mine and Ours’
Is this the first movie title ever comprised entirely of possessive pronouns? (plus one coordinating conjunction)
(insert additional observation here about the serial comma)
Overheard: Infixation of a Compound Relative Pronoun
Professor overheard by Kent Hendricks:
“I paused for just a minute to let what-I-was-ever saying sink in…”
This is the most interesting form of infixation I have ever observed. This sentence refutes almost everything that was written about English morphology in the 1980s; I’m not sure about the 90s because most morphology from the 90s is over my head.
‘On Language’ 4/19 - ‘Gawkers’ cause traffic jams and etymology puzzles
We are despicable people. We are the people who slow down when passing through the scene of an accident, trying to get a good look at the wreck. I do it. You do it. We all do it.
Traffic reporters have a word for us. We’re “gawkers.”
A gawker is an uninvited spectator. And that’s putting it nicely. Merriam-Webster defines the verb “gawk” as “to gape or stare stupidly.” A Google search for the term “traffic accident gawker” turns up a personal ad on a Web site in Louisville that includes “traffic accident gawkers” in the category of “things that turn me off,” between “religious freaks” and “smelly people.”
But though “gawker” may seem like a loaded term, it isn’t just slang or a put-down; it’s used as a neutral description of passing motorists in news and government reports.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
Fun With Negation in ‘Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead’
Rosencrantz: Do you think Death could possibly be a boat?
Guildenstern: No, no, no… Death is not. Death isn’t. Take my meaning? Death is the ultimate negative. Not-being. You can’t not be on a boat.
Rosencrantz: I’ve frequently not been on boats.
Guildenstern: No, no… What you’ve been is not on boats.
Saturday, April 15, 2006
The English quasimodal ‘have to’
Paper presented at the Workshop on “The Origin and Development of Verbal Periphrases”, 10th International Conference on Historical Linguistics (ICHL 10) Amsterdam, August 16, 1991
THE ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF QUASIMODAL HAVE TO IN ENGLISH
Laurel J. Brinton
University of British Columbia
According to Lightfoot (1979: 112), what is perhaps “most remarkable” about the reanalysis of the premodals is the subsequent development of a set of semantically identical but syntactically full verbs to fill the vacuum created. Lightfoot terms these verbs “quasimodals” and dates their appearance with modal meaning in the 15th century. I will question three of Lightfoot’s claims: the date of the modal uses of the quasimodals, their syntactic status, and their relationship to the reanalysis of the premodals. My paper will examine the semantic and syntactic development of three quasimodals in English: have to and ought to, which are equivalent to the modals must or should, and used to, which, although an habitual marker, is frequently equivalent to modal would (and earlier should, will, and shall). I will re-examine van der Gaaf’s hypothesis (1931) that have to and ought to develop from meanings of possession to those of duty, obligation, necessity, and that the change from full verb to auxiliary results in a change in syntactic order, from have + object + infinitive to have + infinitive + object (much like the traditional account of the development of the perfect). I will consider functional and semantic aspects of the development of these verbal periphrases in light of Traugott’s work on grammaticalization (1982, 1988, 1989).
‘Making excuses in the future pluperfect tense’
Condoleeza Rice on British TV: “History will tell, because you can never tell…. Things that look like brilliant strategy in the immediate period look like terribly mistaken strategies, and
ones that at the time look like mistakes later turn out to have been exactly the right thing to do.”
Jon Stewart: “Let me get this straight. Our mistakes ... could have turned out to have had been the right thing to do. You’re making excuses in the future pluperfect tense.”
‘On Language’ 4/12 - Indigenous languages in Mexico
Mexico changed forever Aug. 13, 1521—the day Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez conquered Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire and site of present-day Mexico City.
Cortez’s men destroyed the city, killed thousands of Aztecs, and ushered in centuries of Spanish rule. They also introduced the Spanish language to an area with a variety of indigenous languages, most notably Nahuatl, the official language of the Aztec empire.
As a new book puts it, the Spanish conquest was the most drastic “clash of civilizations” in Mexican history.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
at, till, and finite CPs
From the author’s personal website:
Elly van Gelderen
Arizona State University
DGfS, 2 March 2000, Marburg
In this paper, I have two goals, a descriptive and a theoretical one. First, I describe the extent to which at and till are used in northern texts and what their categorial status is. Second, I examine these changes from the point of view of a split CP, as in Rizzi (1997) and Cinque (1999). I argue that even though Modern English does not provide evidence for a split non-finite CP, there is some evidence in Middle English (perhaps related to the C-orientation). Finite CPs show a split in all stages. I also claim that there is a reorganization of e.g. finite that/for from Fin to Force. This is probably related to features such as future/purpose, but this remains for further research.
Monday, April 03, 2006
Misunderstood and misleadingly edited non-inclusive French NP in The Nation
But no [inclusive NP] interpretation was plausible for BHL’s original French version of the crucial sentence:
Pourquoi, depuis Susan Sontag, n’entend-on pas davantage les clercs sur le sujet?
An interlinear gloss:
pourquoi depuis Susan Sontag n’entend on pas davantage les clercs sur le sujet
why since Susan Sontag NEG hear one NEG more the scholars on the subject
And the same is true of the original (unedited) English translation, which is idiomatic but close to the original:
Why haven’t we heard from more scholars, post-Susan Sontag, on the subject?
[eventual edited version, with possible reading as inclusive NP:]
Why haven’t we heard from more intellectuals like Susan Sontag—or even Gore Vidal and Tony Kushner (with whom I disagree on most other grounds) on this vexed and vital issue?
‘On Language’ 3/29: Irrespective of common use, ‘irregardless’ draws ire
Q. I know that the word “irregardless” is in the dictionary, but I am not sure if it ever has a correct application.
—Edward Kepuraitis, Frankfort, Ill.
A. The four major dictionaries I checked all include and define “irregardless,” but they all label it as “non-standard” and note that the preferred word in Standard English is “regardless.” Most dictionaries and usage guides say this word originated nearly 100 years ago, presumably as a blend of the words “irrespective” (which is accepted in Standard English) and “regardless.” Some note that “irregardless” is vehemently condemned by users of Standard English, and advise that it’s easy to avoid their wrath by simply saying “regardless” instead.