From Benita Bendon Campbell, three more One Big Happy strips: on questions, compound nouns, and tense in nouns. And then, as a bonus, four strips on Ruthie’s interpretations of words.
Archive for the ‘Inflection’ Category
Caught in passing in some tv commercial: “It never jack-knives”. With jack-knives as the 3sg PRS of the verb jack-knife — though the standard verb form is jack-knifes. The irregular verb form is obviously modeled on the irregular PL jack-knives of the *noun* jack-knife, inherited from its head noun knife (PL knives); the 3sg PRS of the verb knife is the regular knifes.
Paul Krugman (“After the Flimflam”, about Paul Ryan’s budget proposals) on the 15th in the NYT:
Way back in 2010, when everybody in Washington seemed determined to anoint Representative Paul Ryan as the ultimate Serious, Honest Conservative, I pronounced him a flimflam man.
… Since then, his budgets have gotten even flimflammier.
Some nice morphology.
From John Patrick Shanley’s “The Darkness of an Irish Morning”, NYT op-ed piece on the 10th:
I am not Irish. I am Irish-American. Some say I have the gift [of gab] as well. If I do, it is because I listened to my father and my uncles and some of my aunts as they gave as good as they got in my living room in the Bronx. On many’s the Saturday night, they would drink rye and ginger ale, and smoke and talk and sing and dance, and I would sing, too, and dance with my aunts, and listen through the blue air.
The linguistic point is on many’s the Saturday night, with many’s, which has the (apparent) inflectional affix -s not motivated by the structure.There’s a connection to Irish English.
An abstract I have submitted for the 2013 Stanford Semantics Fest (on March 18th). The abstract is quite compressed; it had to fit in a single page of text.
A recent discussion on ADS-L combined three themes of enduring interest on this blog: conversion of N to V and vice versa; the alternation in spelling between separated, hyphenated, and solid spelling of compounds (see recent discussion by Mark Liberman on Language Log about the V + Prt compounds build out, build-out, and buildout); and the inclination to externalize inflection in compounds that have come to be viewed as unitary lexical items (see a collection of V/N = V + Prt examples here).
The ADS-L discussion was about mouse over / mouse-over / mouseover, which I’ll refer to as MO in what follows.
A 2005 Savage Chickens cartoon (by Doug Savage) with what’s labeled as a “future perfect passive”:
The label isn’t exactly wrong — it alludes, somewhat indirectly, to the semantics of the material will have been disappointed with subject you and complement with your life — but the label invites comparison to material like amāverō ‘will have loved’ in Latin (expressing the “future perfect”). But English and Latin work very differently in how they package content into words.
More adventures on the comics pages, this time in Nicole Hollander’s Sylvia, from the 2010 retrospective on 30 years of the strip, The Sylvia Chronicles: 30 Years of Graphic Misbehavior from Reagan to Obama (with pointed commentary by Hollander on the already pointed cartoons).
From Jules Feiffer’s foreward:
For thirty years, long before Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, my friend Nicole Hollander has been one of our nations’s leading satirists. Than mean that she is in the business of telling the truth and making it funny. She is right about almost anything. And because she is right, and she is funny, she has no power whatsoever.
Heard on NPR’s Morning Edition this morning, in a segment on sleepwalking: 14-year-old Miranda Kelly reporting a moment when she realized, “Oh, I sleptwalked.”
That’s double inflection, on both parts of the verb sleepwalk, where the standard form (sleepwalked) has inflection only on the second part, the head V walk.