Monday, February 19, 2007

Pronouns as obscure knowledge

Hard to follow Stumblerette's most recent fine effort, but a quick note from another corner of TVland: Last night while watching the Simpsons (where they used the term shuttlebuggery — a term which just now garnered a big one g-hit!), there were ads for a new Fox show, featuring Jeff Foxworthy (of "You may be a redneck if …" fame). The show is called "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?", where adults are asked questions about things in fifth grade textbooks. Here's the example they give, of a question being asked to a middle-aged woman:
Q: Do you know what a pronoun is?
[long pause, nervous look, then:]
A: I think so.
This must be quite a moment for Mark Liberman, who has pleaded so often for better education of the public about language and how it works. (I'm still pondering how to interpret it — is it a sign that this woman is utterly out of it that she doesn't know or is this regarded as some obscure knowledge?)

And Joe needs to post his old joke abstract about "Foxworthy's Law", showing that Foxworthy's interest in linguistic matters is not new and that he can be insightful.


The Ridger, FCD said...

Or, as Calvin said, "A noun which has lost its amateur status".

Mr. Verb said...

Oh yeah, that's right. Probably the answer this contestant had in mind, eh?