Friday, December 17, 2004

Just before midnight with Noam Chomsky

Just before you go to bed tonight, click on The Chomsky Challenge by John Williamson. Trust me, it will work better than a cup of hot chocolate or two shots of tequila. F'rinstance;

I refer you to the latest (Winter 2004) issue of Linguistic Inquiry, which is a publication of the MIT department of linguistics, and which heavily promotes Chomskyan theory. (When he is not busy trashing his country, Chomsky is employed by MIT as a professor of linguistics.)

Sentence1: Who will be easy for us to get his mother to talk to?

This sentence, among others, has been studied for decades by the Chomskyans, in an attempt to formulate its grammatical structure which is, admittedly, somewhat complex. I list below just a few of the terms and concepts which are bandied about in this particular article which discusses this sentence, among others. Please do not trouble yourself to try to make sense of these terms. For now, just glance over them so that you will get a sense of the variety and extent of the terms employed in an attempt to solve this momentous problem:

linking theory...the anti-c-command requirement...A-positions...the Bijection Principle...weakest crossover configurations...bound variable anaphora...asymmetric linking...licensing conditions...the index of a pronoun...null operator analysis...variable binding...configurational conditions...inappropriate and appropriate antecedents...etc...etc...Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Hey! Wake up! I've got a litttle theoretical linguistics type challenge for you. Which of the following terms best describes the decades-long study of the aforementioned sentence?
It is stupid.
Stoopid it am. (from my 5 year-old)
Am shtupid it are. (from my 5 year-old's friend, Felix)
Would it be shtoopid is (or are). (from my 8 year-old)
Could are shchtupid it might were. (from my wife)
Ach shchtoopid est era sería. (from my neighbor, Wolfgang Marcellus Pérez)
Personally, I opt for this, which admittedly falls outside the realm of the options made available to you ordinary peons;

"A total and complete waste of our goddamned tax dollars."

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