Blog Profile / Literal Minded


URL :http://literalminded.wordpress.com/
Filed Under:Academics / Linguistics
Posts on Regator:197
Posts / Week:0.5
Archived Since:February 24, 2008

Blog Post Archive

Superior Complements, Superior Adjuncts

Adam is a high-school freshman this year, and is now a member of the school’s marching band. Over the weekend, I had to take him in to get measured for his bibbers and jacket. While he was busy with the band’s uniform chair, I noticed this message on the whiteboard in the uniform room: I […]

The Flesh-Presser

“So you’re going to be at the Tomato Festival?” Doug asked me. That would be the Reynoldsburg Tomato Festival, our own addition to the list of small-town festivals celebrating odd things. In nearby towns we have the Circleville Pumpkin Show and the Millersburg Sweet Corn Festival, but here in Reynoldsburg we honor the tomato. In […]

Modal Miscommunication

I got a Facebook message from someone who had friended me based on my linguistical online presence. From his profile, he seems to be Middle Eastern. He was asking about graduate linguistic programs in the United States, and whether I knew of professors who had similar research interests to his. Trying to be helpful, I […]

Polar Panphonemic

Last September, a reader named Richard Gunton left a comment on my panphonemic poem post with the following panphone that he’d composed: Catching weary waterfowl on thin ice gives surly polar bears huge pleasure and ensures they enjoy good meat unharmed. I commented back: By George, I believe this is panphonemic! How did you come […]

Pretty Salad

“All right,” I said. “So was there anything else you wanted to ask about?” Jenna, a student from the semantics class I was teaching, had come in with some questions about lambda calculus, and we had spent about half an hour doing some practice derivations. She smiled as she packed up her notebook. “No, pretty […]

Content with Nothing

https://literalminded.wordpress.com/category/semantics/ambiguity/quantifiersoa-ambiguity/ Today’s newspaper had a story from AP about one Dylan Miller, a college student in Pennsylvania who has been living, Thoreau-like, in a hut in the woods since last summer, as part of a research project. Show More Summary

Answers Must Be in the Form of a Cleft

Here’s a draft that’s been sitting in the blogpile since September 2007. School had just begun, and Doug and Adam were beginning third grade and first grade. I wrote at the time… Now that school has resumed, at the end of every week, Doug and Adam are required to take their schoolwork that’s been sent […]

Succeeds at Neither Entertaining Nor Informing

Through June, July, and August, Doug complained about his summer reading assignment, a book called Strange As This Weather Has Been, by an author with the unusual name of Ann Pancake. He hated it. It was a story about mountaintop-removal coal mining in Appalachia, told through an erratic combination of first-person and third-person narrative, with […]

Popularizing Linguistics Through Online Media

Sometime last spring, I got an email from Doug Bigham, a linguist at San Diego State University who I’d met at LSA 2011. He wanted to put together a special session for the LSA 2015 conference that took place last weekend in Portland, Oregon. The theme would be “Popularizing Linguistics Through Online Media,” and he […]

Getting on the Bae Train

Last March, while prowling through my son’s and his friends’ social media timelines (this is called “creeping,” by the way), I noticed the word bae starting to appear. “How long have people been saying that?” I wondered, and whenever I wonder that, it means I might have a good topic to write about for Visual […]

Multiple-Level Coordination with And and But

I’ve continually been hearing this one ad on a podcast I listen to, promoting some kind of investing service. The speaker introduces the subject like this: Want to save more, invest for the future, but don’t have time to be a full-on investor? The fact that this sentence is an interrogative gets in the way […]

He Conquers Who Endures

I saw this on the back of a T-shirt when I was at the grocery store: He conquers who endures. Too bad for those people who endure. Even after all their endurance, they get conquered in the end. He, whoever “he” is, is a patient conquerer. However, I suspect the wearer of the T-shirt probably […]

Tense Travel

My wife called me in to her office last night to make me watch this segment of The Big Bang Theory, in which Sheldon, Leonard, Raj, and Howard are watching Back to the Future, Part ii. Harrison Tran has helpfully bootlegged it onto YouTube, complete with a transcript: Howard: Wait, hold on. Pause. [music stops] […]

He’ll Be None the Wiser

Since I began this blog in 2004, I’ve been vague about where in central Ohio I live, but tonight I’m proud to say that I live in Reynoldsburg, where phenomenal community support for our public school teachers has seen them through a summer of appalling disrespect from the local board of education (except for one […]

Backshifted Conditionals

A few posts back I wrote about some unusual conditional sentences that didn’t fit neatly into a neat 2×2 grid of open-vs-remote, nonpast-vs-past conditional sentences. Now, after teaching my ESL composition students about English conditionals...Show More Summary

Willing and Able

Nine years ago, I was inspired to write a post after hearing a flight attendant give the pre-flight safety presentation, and say, “Please move from the exit rows if you are unwilling or unable to perform the necessary actions without injury.” On my most recent flight, instead of listening to the attendant, I tried to […]

Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word

The wife has spent numerous hours planning the itinerary for a trip we’re going to take out west later this summer. She has tricks up her sleeve that I never would have thought of for finding the best prices for airfare, car rentals, and hotels, so I bow to her travel-savvy. But all our discussions […]

Open Conditionals with the Past Perfect

When Glen and I were kids, for a couple of years our family would read aloud from novels after supper. I remember we did a few that you’ve probably never heard of, plus a Hardy Boys mystery and Johnny Tremain. But by the time we hit junior high school, the habit had kind of fizzled […]

How to Create a Metaphor with Like

Doug and Adam are happy to be out of school for the summer, but one of the last things Doug did during the school year was to miss the morning bus one day, and I had to drive him in. As he settled into the passenger seat, I noticed that he was wearing shorts and […]

Sleep Like Death, Death Like Sleep

The boys, the wife and I watched the latest episode of the rebooted Cosmos last night. About 10 minutes in, Neil deGrasse Tyson began talking about the idea that life on Earth may have begun by arriving on meteorites. It’s known that rocks from Mars, for example, have ended up on Earth this way. It’s […]

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