Comments on my posting on penultimate (in penultimate Frisbee) took three directions: a comic association with antepenultimate; complaints about a relatively recent non-standard use of penultimate (to mean ‘absolutely final, absolutely the best’); and complaints about using ultimate and unique and other so-called “non-gradable” adjectives as gradables (modifiable by degree adverbials).
Archive for the ‘Syntax’ Category
While gathering examples of Michael Reh’s male photography, I came across several sites that referred to genital nudity as present or absent in various photographer’s work (so far as I can tell, there’s none in Reh’s, though he cuts the line very close). In genital nudity, the Adj genital is nonpredicating (His nudity was genital is anomalous): genital nudity isn’t nudity that has the property of being genital, but instead it’s nudity of the genitals, that is, exposure of the genitals. The Adj genital is interpreted via the N genitals — interpretation by evoking a noun is one mark of the type of nonpredicating adjectives known as pseudo-adjectives. (Resistance to modification by degree elements — note the oddity of very genital nudity — is another.)
Putting this aside, there’s the question of how to refer to the images that are banned in certain contexts (U.S. postcards, WordPress postings, etc.). Here’s I’ll restrict myself to the male body in these contexts.
Zippy’s been reading the texts on food products, finding deep messages there.
Love the idea of “advanced socioeconomic degrees in … Manwich & Beefaroni Symbology”.
So the strip is “about” hair(s), but it’s also “about” How ’bout them Cubbies?
(On a personal hair and holiday note: I’m watching Hairspray for Mothers Day.)
Mar Rojo recently posted this exchange to the Facebook group The British Grammar Nazis:
A (on the phone): Where are you at?
B: I’m in the car.
A: No, I mean where are you at?
B: Ah, I’m on the M62, near junction 7.
An invented conversation, I believe, but one intended to show that the at can have a use. In this case, it picks out a specific location, as I suggested in a 2012 posting:
My impression is that where … at is more likely to be used expressions referring to specific locations than to broader locations. But I don’t use the construction myself, so my impressions aren’t reliable and need to be checked out.
In a Language Log posting that year, Mark Liberman suggested another difference, having possibly to do with figurative vs. literal uses; even speakers who don’t use where … at literally (for physical location) often use the construction figuratively, in things like “where medicine is at these days”.
(If you’re inclined to comment on this posting, please read Mark’s and my postings first — and avoid reference to the red herring of stranded prepositions (“sentences ending in prepositions”, as it’s often put).)
From the NYT Science Times yesterday, in “ ‘Cured of AIDS’? Not Yet” by Donald G. McNeil Jr.:
“We should seek out, test and get people into treatment as soon as we possibly can,” Dr. [Anthony] Fauci said. “That way, you can get people into the position the Visconti cohort is in.”
(“Visconti cohort,” for Viro-Immunologic Sustained Control After Treatment Interruption, is a shorthand way of referring to the patients studied by the Pasteur Institute, in France.)
Someone labored hard to concoct that acronym.
A bonus from the same article, this “split infinitive” that caught my eye:
In this country, it is unusual for an infected pregnant woman to not see a doctor even once before delivery.
I probably would have moved the not up in the structure, to give not to see, but I’m not sure why; I certainly have no aversion to so-called split infinitives. Perhaps the writer systematically prefers to keep VP adverbs (like not) with the VP they modify (so that the infinitive marker to then combines with a full, modified BSE-form VP); there are certainly writers who do.
Jon Lighter on ADS-L comments on my usage:
Arnold’s unremarkable syntax from the “Chicano” thread: ”the first OED2 cite, from 1947 Arizona, is somewhat disparaging in tone.”
In case some young folks don’t realize it, this journalistic use of a year-date as an adjective [well, prenominal modifier] is pretty “new” …
The usage is so natural to me that I thought nothing of it, nor did I recognize it as a relatively recent innovation or associate it with journalists.
From Laura Staum Casasanto this morning:
Here is a sentence taken straight from an email about encouraging students to fill out course evaluations at Stony Brook:
[(1)] Did you know? Students can complete their evaluations on their mobile devices, and some instructors have found success with taking the first 10 minutes of class and ask their students to do the evaluations.
Wow, she said, and I concur. This is formally like classic GoToGo, but deviating from central examples in two respects. And it’s the second such example Laura has found.
In the news recently (thanks to the Boston Marathon bombing), the Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (thanks to Dzhokhar Tsernaev’s having gone to high school there), with a name that strikes many non-locals as rather odd: Rindge and Latin, coordinated in the name, are indeed both nouns, but they aren’t semantically parallel: Rindge is a family name, Latin the name of a language. Things used to be worse.
And then there’s Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston.
From Anne Curzan’s column on the Lingua Franca blog yesterday:
Slash: Not Just a Punctuation Mark Anymore
Lots of us use the slash (/) in writing to capture two or more descriptions of the same thing, with a meaning something like “or,” “and,” or “and/or” — e.g., “my sister/best friend” or “request/require.” The slash typically separates two things that are the same part of speech or parallel grammatically; and we can say that slash out loud if needed: “my sister slash best friend.”
Now I wouldn’t write that phrase down that way, with the slash spelled out, but students tell me they now often do.