Archive for the Linguistics Category

OMG Ponies!

Posted in Bizarre, current events, Linguistics on February 7, 2008 by weirleader

So wherefore the title? It’s a convoluted and, ultimately, silly story. But here it goes. I’m reading this article on the undersea cables that recently were cut in the Middle East because, although I’m not typically a conspiracy theorist, I must admit that it seemed awfully coincidental that these large undersea (presumably, pretty deep undersea) cables just accidentally were cut in close proximity both in time and space. So I’m reading along, minding my own, when I come across this seemingly out-of-place reference to OMG Ponies.

And I figured it was my civic duty to make sure that all my loyal readers (yes, all three of you) were up-to-date on the latest slang, or leetspeak, or whatever it’s called these days. 😉

For some reason I am reminded of the quote, “There are more things in heaven and earth…”

MORE Engrish: Or Yoda’s Port-A-Potty

Posted in Humor, Linguistics on December 4, 2007 by weirleader

Sorry – couldn’t resist just one more.

Actually, it’s WritinWrong’s fault for reminding me how addictive it can be to peruse that site. 🙂

IF GO YOU WILL, USE IT YOU MUST!

Yoda’s PortAPotty

Engrish

Posted in Humor, Linguistics with tags on December 3, 2007 by weirleader

Thanks to Daniyel for pointing me in the direction of this site on the beauties of the English language (more specifically, on the beauties of others attempting to speak or write in English). Some are better than others, but I figured I’d grace you all with this lovingly designed ad for (I’m guessing) a picture studio.

Cracks me up! 😉

godam-baby.jpg

Semantics

Posted in Linguistics, Meanderings, Religion on August 2, 2007 by weirleader

Maybe it’s just my mathematical tendencies, but I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the ambiguity of English. Primarily, of late, I’ve been thinking about the simple interaction:

Alice: Do you like mushrooms on your pizza?

Bob: No.

Alice: (throws away the pizza)

Bob: What’d you do that for?

Alice: You said you didn’t like mushrooms!

Bob: I’ll eat them – I just don’t go out of my way to ask for them.

Okay, dumb example. But hopefully illustrative of the larger point. It seems in so many people’s minds that to not like something means to dislike something, as if there are only two options: favor and disfavor. What about “I don’t really care”? Or, in some cases, “I don’t really know”?

This has lately been the cause of some intense discussions regarding religious beliefs. For instance – “Do you believe the Lord returned in 1874?” If I answer no to this, does that mean I disbelieve, or just don’t have an opinion? I can mentally subdivide my options into multiple categories, but have seen far too many people simplify things to the point of “you’re either for me or against me”, and it’s soooo frustrating!

One of my challenges for myself is to devise a better way of illustrating this to be truly eye-opening and convincing to those who’ve never thought about more than two possibilities. Any suggestions about clear ways to explain this concept would be very welcome.

Perhaps just a pie graph would work. I could have one cut into thirds and label them Believe, Disbelieve, Undecided. Then, when someone is asked do they “Believe” and they say no it will be clearer that there are still two remaining categories…

I don’t know – what do you think?

Apprehension

Posted in Linguistics, Meanderings on October 22, 2006 by weirleader

Okay – time for a dose of random linguistics.  I’m reading this scripture the other day (can’t remember exactly when) – Phil 3:13 – when it strikes me that it’s a really strange use of the word ‘apprehended‘.  I mean, we’re talking about him trying to win a race and he says he’s not yet apprehended…  just never quite gelled for me.  But I got to thinking of related words/situations and it started to make more sense…  e.g., they apprehended the suspect…   certain monkeys have prehensile tails with which they can swing through the trees…   so now I can see that he means ‘take hold of’, which I always knew from the NIV but never could make the two translations make sense to myself.

Think I’m finished?  Nope – that was the normal part.  What really started bugging me is that when I say I’m apprehensive about an upcoming job interview, it doesn’t exactly call to mind a state of grabbing something.  I suppose it must have something to do with grabbing onesself, but such a usage never crossed my mind before now.

Nope – no real point.  Just an interesting (to me) insight into a very common word.

Maybe this’d be a good time to put in a plug for the Language Log – I really enjoyed reading some excerpts from it in “Far From the Madding Gerund.”  Just wish I had more time to read – had to return it to the library when I was barely 40 pages in.