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Embodied cognition (was: Gerund abuse)

Mapraputa Is
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This is from Steven Pinker's "Grammar Puss: the fallacies of the language mavens" article. I rather enjoyed it, in particular


William Safire, who writes the weekly column "On Language" for the New York Times Magazine, calls himself a "language maven," from the Yiddish word meaning expert, and this gives us a convenient label for the entire group.

To whom I say: Maven, shmaven! Kibbitzers and nudniks is more like it.




But this part I just don't get:


Turning to the Democrats, Safire gets on Bill Clinton's case, as he puts it, for asking voters to "give Al Gore and I a chance to bring America back." No one would say give I a break, because the indirect object of give must have objective case. So it should be give Al Gore and me a chance.

Probably no "grammatical error" has received as much scorn as "misuse" of pronoun case inside conjunctions (phrases with two parts joined by and or or). What teenager has not been corrected for saying Me and Jennifer are going to the mall? The standard story is that the object pronoun me does not belong in subject position -- no one would say Me is going to the mall -- so it should be Jennifer and I. People tend to misremember the advice as "When in doubt, say 'so-and-so and I', not 'so-and-so and me'," so they unthinkingly overapply it, resulting in hyper-corrected solecisms like give Al Gore and I a chance and the even more despised between you and I.

But if the person on the street is so good at avoiding Me is going and Give I a break, and even former Rhodes Scholars and Ivy League professors can't seem to avoid Me and Jennifer are going and Give Al and I a chance, might it not be the mavens that misunderstand English grammar, not the speakers? The mavens' case about case rests on one assumption: if an entire conjunction phrase has a grammatical feature like subject case, every word inside that phrase has to have that grammatical feature, too. But that is just false.

Jennifer is singular; you say Jennifer is, not Jennifer are. The pronoun She is singular; you say She is, not She are. But the conjunction She and Jennifer is not singular, it's plural; you say She and Jennifer are, not She and Jennifer is. So a conjunction can have a different grammatical number from the pronouns inside it. Why, then, must it have the same grammatical case as the pronouns inside it? The answer is that it need not. A conjunction is just not grammatically equivalent to any of its parts. If John and Marsha met, it does not mean that John met and that Marsha met. If voters give Clinton and Gore a chance, they are not giving Gore his own chance, added on to the chance they are giving Clinton; they are giving the entire ticket a chance. So just because Al Gore and I is an object that requires object case, it does not mean that I is an object that requires object case. By the logic of grammar, the pronoun is free to have any case it wants


The mavens' case about case rests on one assumption: if an entire conjunction phrase has a grammatical feature like subject case, every word inside that phrase has to have that grammatical feature, too.

First, not every word -- copulative conjunctions certainly don't. Second, I think, it's the opposite. If one noun or pronoun has to have a subject case, then why another noun, in a parallel construction, should have another case?

So a conjunction can have a different grammatical number from the pronouns inside it. Why, then, must it have the same grammatical case as the pronouns inside it?

Because grammatical number depends on... um, number of pronouns, an grammatical case doesn't?

The answer is that it need not. A conjunction is just not grammatically equivalent to any of its parts. If John and Marsha met, it does not mean that John met and that Marsha met.

That's semantics, not grammar.

So just because Al Gore and I is an object that requires object case, it does not mean that I is an object that requires object case. By the logic of grammar, the pronoun is free to have any case it wants
"the pronoun is free to have any case it wants" -- how about possessive case? "Give Al Gore and my..." What about three pronouns, each free to take whatever case it wants: "Give him, she and ours..." :roll: That's what happens when you grant pronouns free will -- yours end up with grammatical schizophrenia on you hands.
[ July 17, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]

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  34

I finally got around to reading Terry Winograd's "Understanding Computers and Cognition" (I wanted the answer to a question that had been bothering me: 'Why was there no SHRDLU II?') and one of the things I took from that, among many, was a reminder that formal grammar is something that academics make up post-hoc and stick onto human language, and nothing more; the closer you look at it, the more you realize it's a fragile will-o-the-wisp. Winograd figured this out thirty years ago and moved on; Pinker (whose "The Language Instinct" was a fun if uninspired read) sounds like this is a fresh insight.


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To explain why "former Rhodes Scholars and Ivy League professors can't seem to avoid" Give Al and I a chance, I have a hypothesis. Historical development of English went along a line of losing cases and simplifying its case system. The "you" pronoun , for example, has the same form in Nominative and Objective case. To replace the Objective case with Nominative is not against the logic of grammar, it's just perhaps ahead of it.
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I agree with Map here. Mostly. Even though I'm someone who would regard "Joe and me went to the store" as evidence of simple ignorance, and "the grocer saw Joe and I at the store" as evidence of pretentious ignorance. I don't always agree with Safire politically, but linguistically he is a god. However after reading Steven Pinker's article (thanks, Map!) I can't find much to disagree with. I'm now thinking that if Safire is a god, he's like Chronos, whereas Pinker may be more like Zeus.

In school I was told that dangling participles and prepostitions are Wrong™. However I never understood what what so bad about them, so this was one of those rules I just didn't care about. Err, about which I did not care. :roll: i; (BTW, Winston Churchill was a god too, though I'm not sure how he would fit into the Titans vs. Olympians dichotmy .)

If someone said to me "Joe and me went to the store" I would want to ask them two things:

    Would you say "I went to the store?"

    Would you say "Me went to the store?"

If the answers to those two questions were not the same, I would regard that person as confused, probably misled by some simplistic prescriptive rules (like "you and me" bad, "you and me" good) without any real understanding of their basis. If the answers to both questions were "yes", then I would regard that person as (a) wrong by current standards, but (b) correct by probable future standards. (If both answers were "no", then, well, the person's just beyond redemption I fear...)

even former Rhodes Scholars and Ivy League professors can't seem to avoid Me and Jennifer are going and Give Al and I a chance


I would think that anyone with an ounce of sense would avoid the former, while the latter is a bit more common (even among otherwise intelligent people). The key difference is the order. Most people know that "Me and Jennifer are going" is wrong (under current usage), but not quite everone recognizes that "Jennifer and me are going" is equally wrong. And when the subject is accusative rather than nominative, people beomore confused. "Tell Me and Jennifer the secret" may be (correctly) recognized as correct by most people, while "Tell Jennifer and me the secret" may be incorrectly regarded as incorrect by many people.

Pinker explains this well:
People tend to misremember the advice as "When in doubt, say 'so-and-so and I', not 'so-and-so and me'," so they unthinkingly overapply it, resulting in hyper-corrected solecisms like give Al Gore and I a chance and the even more despised between you and I.


The sad truth, however, is that over time the simplistic inpterpretation will probably become standard. In English we don't have any real use for different pronoun forms - the relation of a given pronoun to the rest of a sentence is already defined by the position of the word, and/or various prepostional phrases as necessary. The distinction between "i" and "me" is fairly meaningless in the long run, and will probably end up being dropped eventually, IMO. This hasn't really happened yet (at least not as far as I'm concerned) but it probably will.
[ July 11, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]

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Robert Miller
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I think Safire is correct on the grammar issue and Pinker is being too clever by half. Yes, "Jennifer and I" has a different number than "Jennifer" and "I" do separately. That is one thing the "and" conjunction does. To say it might also change case is just plain silly.

The case of a noun depends on its function in the sentence. In the particular example of the first person singular pronoun, you use "I" when you are talking about the subject of the sentence, and "me" when you are talking about the object. In the sentence in question, "Al Gore", "I", and "Al Gore and I" all refer to that which is presumably being given a chance. Therefore they all function as the object, so "I" is incorrect.

As for the other argument that "me" is disappearing as an objective form of the first person pronoun, that may be the case, but I know of no evidence it is happening in any other usage. It is much more likely that the form represents an overcorrection, and one that is common. After being told that "Jennifer and me" is incorrect in the subject, we hesitate to use that form as the object, even though it is correct.

Robert
Warren Dew
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I think Safire is correct in this case and Pinker is wrong.

It's true that languages evolve. That does not make it true that any grammatical construct used by anyone automatically becomes correct. Accepted correct usage of a language only changes when a broad consensus emerges around the change.

I think it's very unlikely to be accepted any time soon that the sentence "Robert Nozick and I are smarter than Stephen Pinker and me" is incorrect while "Dan Quayle and me are smarter than Stephen Pinker and I" is correct. The former will continue to be viewed as correct because the argument that convinces Map - use "he and I" where one would use "I" and use "him and me" where one would use "me" - has an internal logic that is appealing to the significant fraction of the population that values logic. The latter will probably continue to viewed as incorrect because all those people who remember the wrong rule are remembering a rule at all because they want only one of the two constructions to be correct.

As for why Rhodes scholars and Harvard professors like Pinker can err on this question, I'd venture that it's because scholarships are awarded on the basis of potential that is not always fulfilled, and professorships in psychology are not awarded on the basis of expertise in linguistics, which at Harvard belongs to the language departments.
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Safire is correct.

As far as ending a sentence with a preposition, the problem is that sentences that end with a preposition just don't look right. Since people tend to skim sentences rather than read every word, sentences that end with prepositions flow into the next sentence and cause confusion.

Should we now discuss gerund abuse or split infinitives?


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Jim: I don't always agree with Safire politically, but linguistically he is a god.

Um. I understand what you are saying, but according to my worst knowledge the word "linguistically" isn't appropriate here. Cannot think about a better alternative... Safire is apparently linguists' favorite punching bag:


I'm going to venture into territory where no linguist has ever dared to set foot -- until now. I'm going to praise William Safire.

I believe the worst nightmare for any linguist would come in these three parts:

(1) being cited by William Safire in the NY Times
(2) being cited approvingly by William Safire in the NY Times
(3) being cited approvingly as claiming the OPPOSITE OF WHAT ONE HAS CLAIMED by William Safire in the NY Times
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/%7Emyl/languagelog/archives/001142.html


See also: Newsflash: Safire reads Language Instinct


(BTW, Winston Churchill was a god too, though I'm not sure how he would fit into the Titans vs. Olympians dichotmy. )

Is this what you are referring to?


He's referring to Churchill's legendary attempt at a reductio ad absurdum of the stupid prescriptivist prohibition against preposition-stranding: "This is the sort of bloody nonsense up with which I will not put".
http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/001082.html

[ July 11, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
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Tom: Should we now discuss gerund abuse or split infinitives?

Infinitives first!

Quote:

"I'm all in favor of sending copy editors to jail; but I think it should be for their actual practices: changing which to that in a bid to impose the (completely mythical) generalization that which is not used in what The Cambridge Grammar calls integrated relatives (the kind without the commas); altering the position of adjuncts in phrases like willing to at least consider it because of a belief in the (again, completely mythical) view that there something called an "infinitive" in English and it should not be "split"; and so on."
Geoffrey K. Pullum. Jail copy editors for the right reason
[ July 11, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
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Safire is apparently linguists' favorite punching bag:

Well, I guess I'm just not that discriminating when I hand out godhoods. He's entertaining, anyway...

Is this what you are referring to?

Yes. Even if it wasn't really Winston Churchill who said it.
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Ernest: ... that formal grammar is something that academics make up post-hoc and stick onto human language, and nothing more; the closer you look at it, the more you realize it's a fragile will-o-the-wisp.

Hm, I suppose any scientific theory is made up post-hoc and stuck onto the subject under investigation... What was his main complain, that in practice people break the rules (for whatever reason), or that formal semantics fails to output sensible interpretation out of sets of words and syntax rules, because it ignores context? Or something else?...
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to quote Douglas Adams: "the future perfect was abandoned because it turned out not to be"


42
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It's not a joke.

most modern grammars of English agree that English does not have a future tense (or a future perfect).
http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Tense
Axel Janssen
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

If someone said to me "Joe and me went to the store" I would want to ask them two things:

    Would you say "I went to the store?"

    Would you say "Me went to the store?"

If the answers to those two questions were not the same, I would regard that person as confused, probably misled by some simplistic prescriptive rules

Good morning,

I find this a bit nit picking.
When I visited my english classes I thought that this stuff would only be of interest to Shakespeare and such older guys, most of whom dead when I would practice my english. I was obviously wrong.

Axel
[ July 12, 2004: Message edited by: Axel Janssen ]
Jeroen Wenting
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:

If someone said to me "Joe and me went to the store" I would want to ask them two things:

Would you say "I went to the store?"

Would you say "Me went to the store?"

If the answers to those two questions were not the same, I would regard that person as confused, probably misled by some simplistic prescriptive rules


The qestion would be: "who the heck is Me?"
Thomas Paul
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Split infinitives...

For our non-native English speakers, an infinitive is the word "to" combined with a verb:

to walk
to eat
to go
to write

Sentences such as these use infinitives:

To write a novel requires a lot of hard work.
To eat snails one must have a strong stomach.
Janice went to the mall to flirt with the guys.

Splitting an infinite means placing a word between the "to" and the verb. An example that Star Trek fans will know:

to boldly go

The rule requires that the phrase be written as

to go boldly

Splitting infinitives is usually a bad idea but there is no strict rule that says infinitives should never be split. But that being said, the further the "to" and the verb are separated, the harder it is for the reader to keep the original sense of the sentence in their head.

to boldly and with a soaring heart and mind go

compare:

to go boldly and with a soaring heart and mind


In general, infinitives should not be split in formal writing unless it makes the sentence sound better when split.
[ July 12, 2004: Message edited by: Thomas Paul ]
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Interesting. In reading on this topic, I found the following dubious phrase: Split infinitives have been condemned as ungrammatical for nearly 200 years. I don't know if ungrammatical is really used correctly here: but it's just weird looking.

M


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Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
I don't know if ungrammatical is really used correctly here: but it's just weird looking.


According to Merriam-Webster:

Main Entry: un�gram�mat�i�cal
Pronunciation: "&n-gr&-'ma-ti-k&l
Function: adjective
: not following rules of grammar
- un�gram�mat�i�cal�i�ty /-"ma-t&-'ka-l&-tE/ noun
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Saw that too: it still seems wrong: not that I'm trying to dis on Merriam Webster.
Jeroen Wenting
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Does one split infinity make 2 whole infinities?
After all, infinity divided by anything is still infinity...

If it does, maybe that will lead to a drive that can propel a ship over infinite distances in the time it takes to split an infinity
Max Habibi
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Originally posted by Jeroen Wenting:
Does one split infinity make 2 whole infinities?


Yes, disrarding 'whole'.

M
Thomas Paul
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Originally posted by Max Habibi:
Saw that too: it still seems wrong: not that I'm trying to dis on Merriam Webster.


I agree that "ungrammatical" looks awkward. Which reminds me, I like that the word "awkward" looks awkward. Two "w"'s separated by a "k" just looks strange.
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The qestion would be: "who the heck is Me?"


Who is you? No, Who's on first!
[ July 12, 2004: Message edited by: Stan James ]

A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of the idea. John Ciardi
Warren Dew
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Thomas Paul:

to go boldly and with a soaring heart and mind

Then there are those of us who prefer to put the adverbs in front of the infinitive: "boldly and with a soaring heart and mind to go". We may be in the minority, though.

If Mapraputa is happy with the infinitives, could we have your comments on gerund abuse now? (If not, perhaps we'll have to discuss splitting of infinitives in other languages, French perhaps.)
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I should note that when I made my original post, I'd had a few beers. I see now that (a) I didn't read carefully what various people were really saying, and (b) I didn't express myself very well. So just ignore that first post of mine. Sorry 'bout that.

Axel - no, I wouldn't actually harass someone about saying "I" in the wrong place. Unless they were making a point of insisting it was correct, which seems to be what Pinker was saying. (At least, defending as a valid option.) As for Pinker - his article has a lot of interesting points, many of which seem valid. But on the key part Map quoted, where he disagrees with Safire over "give Al Gore and I a chance" - his justification does seem rather poor. It's true that there are cases where compound subjects have properties not held by either subject by itself. And sometimes it's not clear whether I or me is correct, or whether a subject is singular or plural. The rules of language usage are seldom absolute. However, none of that seems to provide any real justification for using "I" in this case. If there were two conflicting language rules here, then users might be justified in choosing one or the other in a particular situation. But Pinker doesn't seem to suggest a specific rule that would justify "Al Gore and I" - he just thinks we should be free to use "I" or "me" anytime, depending on whim. On one level, I can imagine that in the future, the distinction between "I" and "me" may have broken down so far that he'll be (in retrospect) right. But there's no apparent justification for such sloppiness here and now, not in this sentence at least.

---

[Max]: I found the following dubious phrase: Split infinitives have been condemned as ungrammatical for nearly 200 years. I don't know if ungrammatical is really used correctly here: but it's just weird looking.

Personally I don't see anything at all wrong with "ungrammatical" in this sentence. Is it the word "ungrammatical" itself you question, or the way it's used after "condemned as"? (Googling "condemned as" yeilds many similar examples.) What about something like "Many people think that split infinitives are ungrammatical." Is there any way to use "ungrammatical" that would look acceptable?

---

[Jeroen]: After all, infinity divided by anything is still infinity...

Except when it's not, of course. An infinity divided by another infinity may be zero, or infinity, or a finite nonzero number. Or just plain undefined.
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Warren: If Mapraputa is happy with the infinitives,

Not yet!

Read the ultimate source, "The Cambridge Grammar of The English Language"
p. 581
p. 582

Placement a modifier after infinitival to is not uncommon in either speech or writing (including works of many of the most prestigious authors). Among the adverbs that particularly lend themselves to placement in this position are those marking degree (such as really and utterly, actually, even, further, and so on.


Have you seen the price? Must be a good book.
[ July 12, 2004: Message edited by: Mapraputa Is ]
Warren Dew
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It is, Map. I added it to my wish list. Chalk up another way in which English is more expressive than most other languages.
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Chalk up another way in which English is more expressive than most other languages.

I think you are kidding.
Warren Dew
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I didn't meant it to be humorous, but I'll gladly take credit for it.

Here's what I mean. In French, say, if you want to use the same concept several times in the same sentence, you'll likely end up using the same word each time. How boring! English, though, often offers a choice of several words for the same meaning, because it has both romance and germanic language roots. One can avoid monotony by using a different word for the concept each time it comes up - even if the concept itself is identical in each case!

Some people might use a term other than "expressive" to describe this effect. ("Confusing", perhaps.) Fortunately, in English, there are a plethora of similar terms to choose from.
[ July 13, 2004: Message edited by: Warren Dew ]
Helen Thomas
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I like this word.

"Idiolect":

The speech of an individual, considered as a linguistic pattern unique among speakers of his or her language or dialect.

Be careful how you use it, though


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Warren: I added it to my wish list.

In case you didn't find them yet, there are first two chapters online:
http://uk.cambridge.org/linguistics/cgel/sample.htm

So what about "gerund abuse"?
Thomas Paul
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Gerunds are fairly simple... take a verb, add -ing to the end and then treat it like a noun:

Running is my favorite activity.

The subject of the sentence is "running" and since the subject of a sentence must always be a noun, "running" must be a noun.

Many local governments and school districts forbid releasing student information to any outside group, including the military, colleges or corporations.

The verb is "forbid". What is forbidden must be the subject of the sentence. So what is forbidden? Releasing student information so that must be the subject of the sentence. Releasing is a noun in that sentence.

Gerund abuse is the habit of turnings nouns into verbs and then using them as gerunds! In other words, take a noun, turn it into a verb, and then turn it back into a noun.

Blogging is a fun hobby.

Before we had "blogging" we had "blog". "Blogging" became what we do in our blogs. Then we turn "blogging" into a noun by using it as a gerund. I am sure you can think of many more examples.

Much worse than gerund abuse is something that looks similar, present participle abuse! This is the sign of the hack writer, epecially when it appears at the beginning of a sentence. An example stolen from another site:

Gasping in terror, Amelia clutched her sheet to her pillowy bosom and looked around for the source of the awful noise. Finding nothing unusual in her room, she lay back down and closed her eyes. Hearing the awful noise yet again, she grabbed the phone and dialed 911. Jumping out of the bed, Amelia ran to the tall oaken door of her room and tugged on the handle. Discovering the handle was locked, the door wouldn�t budge despite Amelia�s frenzied scramble. Materializing in front of the bedroom door, Sir Pennywhistle was startled to find a frantic human body already there, yanking on the handle.
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Tom: Gerund abuse is the habit of turnings nouns into verbs and then using them as gerunds! In other words, take a noun, turn it into a verb, and then turn it back into a noun.

Gerund isn't a noun, it has features of both nouns and verbs.
Example:

I don't remember having seen him before.

Having seen here is in Perfect form, which is a grammatical feature of a verb.

He likes reading aloud.

"Aloud" is an adverb, and adverbs modify verbs, not nouns.

Blogging is a fun hobby.

Before we had "blogging" we had "blog". "Blogging" became what we do in our blogs. Then we turn "blogging" into a noun by using it as a gerund.

Frankly, I don't see a big problem here. We have a noun, a verb, and finally something that is both (or neither), with its own unique function. How would you "fix" this phrase, "to blog is a fun hobby"?
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The verb is "forbid". What is forbidden must be the subject of the sentence.


Izzat right? Looks like an object to me. Take a simpler sentence "Mama don't allow no [forbids] banjo playin on this train" looks like Mama is the subject.
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  34

Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
that formal semantics fails to output sensible interpretation out of sets of words and syntax rules, because it ignores context?


Basically that, I suppose, but at a somewhat deeper level, which I guess I could grossly oversimplify by saying that a speech act is part of an organic whole that includes the speaker and the listener, and can't be wholly described or appreciated outside of that total system.
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Tom: The subject of the sentence is "running" and since the subject of a sentence must always be a noun, "running" must be a noun.

"To blog is fun"

Here a verb in infinitive form is used as a subject.
R K Singh
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First to Map, is there any specific reason to change the Subject every alternate day ??

Originally posted by Warren Dew:
How boring! English, though, often offers a choice of several words for the same meaning


hmm... I think every language has advantages and disadvantages.

English lacks words when it comes to define relationships among family. It has got common words which actually do not specify the actual relation.
Uncle, Aunty, niece, nephew, XXX-in-Law, cousin does not tell what is the actual relation.
If it is a maternal or paternal uncle ??

In that sense, I think south-asian languages are rich, there is a different word for each relation.


"Thanks to Indian media who has over the period of time swiped out intellectual taste from mass Indian population." - Chetan Parekh
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Originally posted by R K Singh:

Uncle, Aunty, niece, nephew, XXX-in-Law, cousin does not tell what is the actual relation.
If it is a maternal or paternal uncle ??


Ah, now there's a fun conversation to have -- about how language shapes thought. As a native English-speaker, I can tell you that those words do, indeed, specify the actual relation for me. An uncle is an uncle is an uncle. Now, occasionally, I might tell a story in which the added context (Uncle Ray is my father's brother) is necessary, but in general, an English speaker doesn't want or need this information.

Now, I'm guessing from your post that for you, this doesn't hold. A maternal uncle and a paternal uncle are different things altogether.
Frank Silbermann
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Joined: Jun 06, 2002
Posts: 1387
Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
I agree with Map here. Mostly. Even though I'm someone who would regard "Joe and me went to the store" as evidence of simple ignorance, and "the grocer saw Joe and I at the store" as evidence of pretentious ignorance. I don't always agree with Safire politically, but linguistically he is a god.
[ July 11, 2004: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]


Using the same case in a conjunction as with singletons is historically correct and consistent with other Indo-European languages. Saying "John and me" (or "me and John") as the subject of a sentence is dialect. Saying "John and I" as an object in a sentence is a recent trend created by half-schooled dialect speakers who were beat over the head about saying "John and me" as a subject, but never grasped the concept of parts of speech.

In a book on American social class (called _Class_, but I don't remember the author), it said that using "John and I" as a sentence object is a lower-middle class cultural marker. Saying "John and me" as the subject is a lower-class marker (Europeans call it "working class" -- which makes little sense to Americans, because under the Protestant work ethic _everyone_ is supposed to work), and using the cases properly is an upper-middle class marker.

There don't seem to be any distinct upper-class markers in American speech, because America hasn't had a stable upper class.

So even though Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, culturally he's lower-middle class.
R K Singh
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Posts: 5371
Originally posted by Ernest Friedman-Hill:
Now, I'm guessing from your post that for you, this doesn't hold. A maternal uncle and a paternal uncle are different things altogether.


hmm.. yes, when you say that I was talking to my sister-in-law on phone then I think I would like to know whethere it was your brother's wife or your wife's sister.[does not both things are different altogether :roll: ]

but in general, an English speaker doesn't want or need this information.
Might be true, for he knows that that information cant be conveyed in single word
[ July 15, 2004: Message edited by: R K Singh ]
 
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subject: Embodied cognition (was: Gerund abuse)