Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You both

Last night, as I was reading myself to sleep, I came across a you both. It was in something like We'll leave you both there. Hang on, I thought, how does that work? Under the analysis taken by the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, the underlined word in I'll leave both there is a determinative functioning as a fused determiner head in a noun phrase. The argument, very much oversimplified, is that the answer to both what is retrievable from context. In other words, if you're talking about pencils, you could say, I'll leave both pencils there.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Language is a commons

The other evening, driving home, I heard the first part of an "Ideas" program about plagiarism on the CBC. It referenced a Harper's essay by Jonathan Lethem entitled "The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism". As I was reading through the essay, which I'm quite enjoying, I came across this passage, which brings together and artistic, linguistic, and economic view of language.
"The world of art and culture is a vast commons, one that is salted through with zones of utter commerce yet remains gloriously immune to any overall commodification. The closest resemblance is to the commons of a language: altered by every contributor, expanded by even the most passive user. That a language is a commons doesn't mean that the community owns it; rather it belongs between people, possessed by no one, not even by society as a whole."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Think again

Going back to my post of a few days ago about think and its allowed complements, I was reminded of this post from 2007 about the complementation of rethink. It's interesting to note that, where think doesn't allow open interrogative content clauses, rethink does.

  • I thought about what I should do.
  • *I rethought about what I should do.
  • *I thought what I should do.
  • I rethought what I should do.
Why are complements so arbitrary?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Words as species

The most recent edition of Reading in a Foreign Language is a festschrift for Paul Nation. Paul was one of my professors at TUJ and apart from being a very practical and productive researcher, he's also one of the friendliest and most personable folks you'd want to meet.

There's much worth reading there, but one that caught my attention was the Meara and Olmos Alcoy paper.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Corpus from Mark Davies

Brigham Young's Mark Davies has just made available, in alpha, a new Corpus of Historical American English. If you don't know about Mark's free corpora, you should check them all out.

And hence metaphor awareness is important in language education

Or not.

An article in the most recent issue of TESOL Quarterly examines the efficacy of teaching Japanese university students the metaphors behind some phrasal verbs in comparison to simply explaining the verbs though Japanese. The treatment group (n=59), was given something like the following for each of the focussed prepositions (up, down, into, out, off):

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two answers about time

The other day, I posted an interesting pair of questions about time:
  • Do you know what time it is? right
  • Do you think what time it is? wrong 
  • What time do you think it is? right
  • What time do you know it is? wrong

The posing of the two questions together is a little confusing because the issues are distinct, but here's what I think:

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Two questions about time

The following query appeared on the ETJ mailing list: Why is one item in each of the following pairs wrong?

  • Do you know what time it is?    right
  • Do you think what time it is?   wrong 
  • What time do you think it is?   right
  • What time do you know it is?    wrong
I'll post my reply after you've had some time to think about it.