November 19, 2008

"Something tells me, Arnold, that not all these women actually are."

Something tells me you can't explain what's grammatically wrong with that sentence as well as Arnold:
[T]he antecedent and anaphor don't match semantically: the antecedent is referential, the anaphor predicative.

19 comments:

ricpic said...

Paging rh...

Trooper York said...

RH is still busy whacking it to those chicken videos.

former law student said...

All that glitters is not gold.

Is that a valid sentence, or should it be rewritten as "Not everything that glitters is gold"?

m00se said...

Hmm.

I guess I should be glad there is someone OCD enough to want to keep track of this stuff.

There. Enough grammatical errors here to keep them busy for a while...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is where diagramming sentences comes in handy. Just wish I could remember how.

rhhardin said...

He's investigating what it is that you know without knowing it, about grammar; taking, in particular, the rules as mysterious and to be discovered.

Rather than taking them as rules to be taught.

In this case: why does it sound slightly off.

Anybody who's tried natural speech processing has run into it. Nobody knows what to do.

Original George said...

To be expressed properly, the sentence should be rewritten as follows:

Tell me all, Arnold—these women's somethings are not actually.

or

Not actually, Arnold: These women tell; are all something!

Chip Ahoy said...

Arnold does not explain it well, although he does explain it thoroughly. Too many abbreviations he assumes the reader is already familiar with. And I do detest definitions that are more complex than the thing being defined.

Joe M. said...

All that glitters is not gold.

Is that a valid sentence, or should it be rewritten as "Not everything that glitters is gold"?


All that glitters is gold.
All that glitters is not gold.
All that glitters not is gold.
All that glitters not is not gold.
Not all that glitters is gold.
Not all that glitters is not gold.
Not all that glitters not is gold.
Not all that glitters not is not gold.

Theo Boehm said...

But, Chip, think of it as performance art.

Triangle Man said...

former law student said...

All that glitters is not gold.


It is complete, but was originally written:

"All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told."

Christy said...

What a boorish deconstruction of a clever line. And there is an entire blog of this stuff?

Trooper York said...

"Something tells me, Arnold, that not all these women actually are.""

"What chu talkin about Willis"
(Different Strokes, 1979)

blake said...

Grammar, like vocabulary, is what communicates. Hence the problem RHH mentions.

My impression of an electronic Costello failing the Turing test:

"Not all these women actually are."
"Are what?"
"Are women."
"Who are women?"
"Not all these women."

Joe M. said...

Grammar, like vocabulary, is what communicates.

Not so. Persons communicate by means of language, a necessary component of which is grammar.

To think is to distinguish among things. Grammar is a means by which to communicate our thoughts. It is therefore necessary to maintain precise grammar so that we are able to communicate precisely what we think (and moreover, I would argue, so that we are able to think in the first place).

Take French, for example: the simple past has fallen out of use in the spoken language, with the result that one is no longer able to distinguish between "I won" (a single event in the past) and "I have won" (a present state resulting from an event in the past).

rhhardin said...

It is therefore necessary to maintain precise grammar so that we are able to communicate precisely what we think

If it weren't for misunderstandings, people would never agree on anything.

blake said...

Not so. Persons communicate by means of language,

Just barely. Observe the internet.

a necessary component of which is grammar.

Actually, grammar is retconned onto language. Retrofit?

To think is to distinguish among things.

I would agree with that. There's one.

Grammar is a means by which to communicate our thoughts. It is therefore necessary to maintain precise grammar so that we are able to communicate precisely what we think

And yet this is observably false.

(and moreover, I would argue, so that we are able to think in the first place).

As is this, though a lot of people believe this. As a simple refutation: if grammar is necessary to thought, who first thought of grammar?

Take French, for example: the simple past has fallen out of use in the spoken language, with the result that one is no longer able to distinguish between "I won" (a single event in the past) and "I have won" (a present state resulting from an event in the past).

You'll be better off if you don't rely on people making that distinction.

I'm not unsympathetic, you understand. I'm saying communication requires agreement and grammar often fails to have agreement.

Send not for whom the grammar bell tolls....

Joe M. said...

Grammar is a means by which to communicate our thoughts. It is therefore necessary to maintain precise grammar so that we are able to communicate precisely what we think

And yet this is observably false.


I'm leaning on the adverb here. Sure, everyday communication doesn't rely on or observe the finer points of grammar, but neither is everyday communication here my concern.

So perhaps we should follow Aristotle (never a bad thing!) and ask only the level of precision appropriate to the matter at hand. And we seem to be concerned with the relation of grammar to two different styles of discourse, the one needing precision, the other not.

gt said...

I could only think of three Arnolds, Tom, Schwarzenegger, and Ziffle, one of whom is a pig, so I was mildly disappointed after following the link.