Sunday, March 30, 2008

Simpsons linguistics

I know that Heidi Harley will get to this, but St. Patrick's Day and thus her Simpsons linguistics special is a long ways off …

Just now, on the Simpsons, Lisa just had this exchange with Marge:
L: Martha Graham danced well into her 70s.
M: Did you mean 'she [danced well] into her 70s', or 'she danced [well into her 70s]'.
Of course they used intonation instead of brackets, but you get the point. A generally brilliant show, besides.


stumblng.tumblr said...

Something similar happened in real life not that long ago. An Apple spokesman was asked how long people should expect an iPod to work for. His answer was "four years". That caused much agitation. Then, Apple said that those hearing the answer had misinterpreted it. What he'd said was, "For years".

Mr. Verb said...

Structural ambiguity stalks us!

Anonymous said...

And Lisa's response was cool too: "Well, she danced into her 70s."