Old Syntax, New Context (Spoof)

Because The Onion Radio News has released a fake news item about an alleged move to Anglo-Saxon syntax, a number of linguist bloggers (including the venerable Language Log) have discussed the original article in the written version of The Onion.

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    • One thing I like about this spoof is that this syntax quickly seems natural and native speakers seem to have an easy time adopting it. One reason might be that English-speakers are often trained to read rather old texts. Rabelais had a similar impact on me, though it took more than a few pages before I really got used to the language and was able to read the original text without reference to translations into Modern French. One reason is that Rabelais’s French is not only syntactically different from modern French but also different in lexicon and spelling. Not to mention that the cultural context has changed enough that reading Pantagruel was an ethnographic experience. (Of course, the texts themselves were largely about exploration and discovery, which are related to ethnography). Maybe I should reread Rabelais. It’s been more than twenty years. – post by enkerli

Geeking Out on Syntax

“Judging” grammaticality through software: MiniJudge. (Via Jean Crawford, Starr Linguist)

As a complete outsider to the minimalist program (and to those language sciences which focus on syntax), my perception has often been that judgements of grammaticality relied too heavily on introspection by native speakers. Proponents of these generative theories often talk of “instincts” or “intuitions” for those judgements that native speakers are able to make unconsciously and that non-native speakers have a hard time making. Maybe using software for those judgements would take the generative methodology out of introspective mode.

As a linguistic anthropologist, I just wish linguists and other language scientists could talk to each other.

English Syntax and Buffaloing

This Wikipedia entry was featured recently:

Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo. – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It would be a very good example to use in an introductory class for almost any language science. The article itself is well-written.