Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Palin and language ...

Haven't even kept up on news today (but thank you, Ben Zimmer), let alone been able to blog about it. I'll catch up soon, but note this. It's about diagramming Sarah Palin's sentences (see image). Check out this morsel:
The more the diagram is forced to wander around the page, loop back on itself, and generally stretch its capabilities, the more it reveals that the mind that created the sentence is either a richly educated one—with a Proustian grasp of language that pushes the limits of expression—or such an impoverished one that it can produce only hot air, baloney, and twaddle.
Whoa. I know a lot of syntax folks, but never heard one talk like that before.

8 comments:

fev said...

Better enjoy it while we can. Gov. Palin says all those pesky "gotcha" questions are going to make her clearer and more articulate.

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness. I didn't really remember what 'diagramming sentences' looked like.

pc said...

I just read this over at Slate and realized that whenever I claim that I have, in fact, "diagrammed sentences" before, I am lying. I've never seen anything like this before, which I guess either means that I never was taught to diagram sentences in school, or that I've only ever "diagrammed" according to GB theory, or both? Anyway. As a linguist, these diagrams confuse me :)

Mr. Verb said...

I've seen something like this before -- I think we were tortured with an instrument like this in 8th grade maybe, but it looks extremely foreign to me. Government & Binding is warm and fuzzy by comparison.

Ollock said...

Maybe it's an older technique. I mean, as far as I understand, most high-school English grammar is full of outdated theories and half-baked prescriptive rules, but maybe this diagramming method actually got so annoying that most schools don't teach it anymore.

The Ridger, FCD said...

It's an old method which has recently been revived (thank you, Sister Bernadette and your barking dog). It has some flaws - I'm not crazy about the way it treats NP indirect objects like PP complements, for one thing, but it has its good points, too. Not so much from a syntactical analysis point of view, and it can get tangled and ugly with complex sentences and infinitive subjects or complements (or overly simplistic with Object Clause Complements) but it's pretty useful for teaching middle school kids about parts of speech and basic left-to-right parsing of sentences..

Basic being a key word.

Anonymous said...

http://blow.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/03/palinese-sarah-phonics-what-is-this/

from yesterday's times... I prefer Palinese... sarah-phonics doesn't quite do it for me...

Mister said...

Make Palin a Verb!!

A movement to make the word palin an english language verb.

palined.com