22 thoughts on “how did I miss this?

  1. i have a good joke too: one day a man walked into a baker and said ‘could i please have a large white loaf’ the baker looked at him in a funny way and said ‘its outside’

    … get it?


  2. Well considering there *are* only three jokes on the Language Log front page, i think the phon side of things isn’t doing too badly.

    A sample, for the erudite:

    Q: Two linguists were walking down the street. Which one was the specialist in contextually indicated deixis and anaphoric reference resolution strategies?

    A: The other one.


  3. Wait I have another one (Sheena you might get this!)

    Three postmen are late for work, one’s an Englishman, one’s a Scot and one’s Irish. the Englishman is first called to the postmaster’s office and asked to explain himself, he tells him that his dog was run over and so had to take her to the vet. He’s let off the hook and the Scottish chap’s called up, he explains that there was roadworks on the way and the light was stuck on red. The boss takes a bit of persuading but eventually let’s him go with a warning. Finally the Irishman is called away from his work and asked to explain himself. He goes to great lengths to wriggle his way out of a reprimand and tells the postmaster about how he couldn’t sleep the night before and then nothing would work; the toaster broke, the clock was slow, the car’s engine was cold and wouldn’t start, then when it did he ran over a dog so had to take his car to the garage then catch the bus which was late… he went on so long that the postmaster had fallen asleep by the time he reached the end but woke with a start when the Irish postie went silent and said ‘No soap, no radio’


  4. A linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as Russian, a double negative remains a negative. But there isn’t a single language, not one, in which a double positive can express a negative.”
    A voice from the back of the room retorted, “Yeah, right.”


  5. Based on the single datum referred to in #11 above, I hereby propose an Optimality Theoretic account of this phenomenon. In the spirit of Prince and Smolensky (1993) let us assume a Faithfulness constraint *MessWithMinds, where * means No, and a Markedness constraint FoolStormTroopers. At this point a suitable tableau would show, were it possible to draw tableaux in a comment, that *MessWithMinds is ranked lower than FoolStormTroopers in this instance of the Kenobi dialect. More and plentiful funding would however be required in order to ascertain the extent to which this observation may be generalised.

    (Can you tell I know nothing about Star Wars? :) )


  6. I have never felt so at home in a blog thread. Is that a bad thing?

    Just to augment that grammar that Cath started out, I would say that based on Luke’s experiences in the swamp the Yodanese dialect would lack (or have extremely low-ranked) the markedness constraint TRY.

    Would you say that WearsArchaicRobes is a freely-ranked constraint, or should it rank more highly as the Jedi’s proficiency increases?


  7. Would you say that WearsArchaicRobes is a freely-ranked constraint, or should it rank more highly as the Jedi’s proficiency increases?

    As its rank increases with the proficiency of the Jedi, the rank of HasSillyPonytail should be decreased accordingly :-)

    (Cath – around 1 min 20 of this will give you some context for the TRY thing)


  8. Mm, I see lots of re-ranking going on here, I just completely lack the relevant background and will leave it to you two to sort it out amongst yourselves. You may wish to explore the relevance of Tesar’s Learning Algorithm to the developmental question, of course.



  9. Let’s leave Tesar out of it – anyone who suggests that it is possible to decouple

    – robust interpretive parsing
    – grammar learning using a robust parser

    and still provide powerful learning algorithms needs their head examined!

    (Yes, I have no idea what I’m talking about) :-)


  10. Never a truer word … :)

    But since haikus seem to be the art form of the moment, i hope you’ll take a moment to quietly reflect on this poignant insight into the life of an optimality theorist, cherished from the Linguist List competition many moons ago and which I can’t find the link to any more:

    To change a lightbulb,
    just rank Light above Same Bulb:



  11. Pingback: Academic sense of humour | Friendly Humanist

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