A blog about any and all things linguistic. Topics can range from phonetics to syntax to aspects of specific languages. Updated weekly.
Friday, July 25, 2008
A lot of humorous signage and announcements arise from our preference for low attachment (attaching a NP to the lowest possible node, or in a more linear sense, having it complement the most recent verb, preposition, etc.) I heard a nice one a little while ago on Jay Leno's Headlines segment on the Tonight Show. It was a wedding announcement that mentioned the couple's traditional Hawai'ian wedding, complete with "the blowing of the conch shell and Hawai'ian minister". The intended reading is [[the blowing [of [the conch shell]]] and [Hawai'ian minister]], with two separate NP's joined by the conjunction "and". The humorous reading results from the fact that we don't want to attach "Hawai'ian minister" high up on the tree where it is sister to "the blowing of the conch shell". We want to attach it way down low to "blowing", giving us something like [[the blowing [of [the conch shell] and [Hawai'ian minister]]]].
I live in New Brunswick, NJ with my wife Amanda, and am currently a 3rd year linguistics Ph.D. student at Rutgers. My research interests include phonetics, phonology, Optimality Theory, Native American languages (esp. Na-Dene and Algonquian), loanword adaptation, and syllable structure. Send comments/suggestions/questions to:
rdenzerk at eden.rutgers.edu