Thursday, March 17, 2005

Evocative example sentences

Over on Tenser, said the Tensor, the Tensor posted a list of canonical example languages, which reminded me of a list of canonical example sentences I've been collecting. (Well, they're not all sentences, exactly.) The idea is that the mere mention of any of these sentences will call a whole series of arguments and citations to the mind any linguist educated in the generative tradition. They're in no particular order. Like the Tensor, I've identified the phenomenon they're supposed to be illustrating in the background color, just beside the sentence in question. Select the line to see it.

Send additions, emendations, corrections!

Who do you wanna leave? Wanna-contraction
Every farmer who owns a donkey beats it. Donkey sentences
Which report did you file without reading? Parasitic gap:
wug/wugs productive morphology
John is easy to please. tough-movement
John is eager to please. control
The cat seems to be out of the bag. raising
*The cat wants to be out of the bag. raising vs. control
Tabs were kept on Jane Fonda. passive NP movement
John persuaded Mary to leave. object control
John promised Mary to leave. subject control across object
Who does his mother love? Weak crossover
His mother loves every boy. Weak crossover via covert quantifier raising
There seems to be a man in the room. Expletives and the EPP
The horse raced past the barn fell Garden path
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. Syntax/semantics mismatch
More people have been to Russia than I have. ? Something about syntax w/o semantics
The rat the cat the dog chased bit hid. Center embedding
Don’t giggle me! Overgeneralization
Hesperus is Phosphorus. Reference
‘water’ = H2O vs XYZ Reference:
Snow is white. Truth
Someone loves everyone. Scope
Two languages are spoken by everyone in this room. Scope
Who did you say bought what? Subjacency
*What did you say who bought? Subjacency
Fanfuckintastic! Infixation aand stress
Navratifuckinlova Infixation
writer, rider Flapping, lengthening
pit/spit Allophony
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo ?? something to puzzle undergrads with, absence of morphology in English
Mary saw the man with the telescope. Structural ambiguity
It’s cold in here!Indirect speech act
John kicked the bucket. Idiom
Into the room whistled a bullet. Locative inversion

John is a bachelor lexical decomposition, lexical entailment

12 Comments:

Blogger Lance said...

Of course, I think of ever so many pronoun-based semantics sentences, most of which are much longer than your examples here. Say,

Every woman who bought a sage plant bought nine others to go with it. (Which I suppose is just more donkey pronouns.)
The man who gave his paycheck to his mistress...
Either there's no bathroom in this building, or it's in a strange place.

Why do pronouns get all the good sentences? Also, let's see,

Which article did you file without reading?

11:42 AM  
Blogger Q. Pheevr said...

*a picture of itself

Up the hill ran John vs. *Up the bill ran John.

And, of course, for the prosodically minded: Winnepesaukee, hamamelidanthmum, akunetepal, welepenemanta, sixteen tons, Tennessee waltz.

7:18 PM  
Blogger hh said...

my post above on phrasal compounds reminds me also of
rats-eater

your ex. with run up the bill reminds me of

the writing up of the paper (*up)

:)

9:52 AM  
Blogger Estel said...

Hmm, the first thing I thought of for writer/rider was Canadian Raising.

I think I often use pot/spot and top/stop in place of your pit/spit. Same allophony phenomenon, different exact examples.

10:07 AM  
Blogger Marc said...

What a great thread!

Some other canonical or soon to be canonical examples:
* She sneezed the napkin off the table. (Lexical transformation rules or Constructions, depending who you ask)

* Willy watered the plants flat. (Resultatives)

* The FBI found some record in the library. (Garden path with unresolvable ambiguity)

* Although John didn't make any headway was made by Mary. (Garden path, idiom w/ ellipsis)

* The ham sandwhich wants his check (metonymy)

* Spiro conjectures ex-lax. (Gen. Semantics, answer to What does Pat Nixon put in her cakes?)

Morphophonlogy:
* nightingale (generative phonology examples with V+[x]-> V:

* Diane Keaton (stress clash avoidance)

* undoable (ambiguous morpheme branching)

And of course:
* g-um-radwet vs. gr-um-adwet (tagalog infixation)

8:20 PM  
Blogger ns said...

Ok -- these are more philosophical, and some will probably evoke... hostility from linguists, but still:

"Yields a falsehood when appended to its quotation" yields a falsehood when appended to its quotation.

Rabbiteth!

Undetached rabbit part!

Giorgione was so-called because of his size.

Very well: half the government are not asses.

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