Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Longer-than-your-average-compound compounds

I've been collecting language-related comics for undergraduate edification for a while, and have quite a substantial batch of them. I'd like to post them here occasionally, but I fear that copyright law forbids it. Today, however, one turned up that reminded me of another collection I've been making, of phrasal compounds in (edited) print. Since this cartoon is new, the link to it on comics.com will be good for 29 more days, so here it is for that amount of time:

Phrasal compound in Speed Bump comic
.

One main source of phrasal compounds in my collection is my best-of-all-time movie reviewer, James DiGiovanna of the Tucson Weekly. The reviews in which he's given to using phrasal compounds are not often his best ones, so do visit his archive and browse around, but I've linked to the source reviews for the few I've listed below so you can see their full context.

...the kind of first-thought-that-pops-into-my-head thing that's typical of Hollywood screenwriting

...his usual heartwarming-story-with-multiple-urination-scenes projects.

...this was such a punch-the-clock affair...

...the seamlessness of his Yoda's-mind-in-the-body-of-Adonis performance.

I recently ran across an interesting article by irregular-morphology supremo Harald Clahsen and collaborator Mayella Almazan, contrasting the phrasal and root compounding abilities of Williams Syndrome subjects with those of SLI and control subjects. The result seems to be that the WS subjects have intact phrasal compounding, consistent with other robust properties of their syntactic system, but impaired root compounding. I think Clahsen wants this to correlate with the words-and-rules scenario, given that he and his collaborators have also found that WS subjects have impaired abilities with irregulars and intact abilities with regulars. However, it's not clear to me how this is supposed to work on the irregulars-stored, regulars-computed idea; I don't think Clahsen is claiming that the root compounds that they tested, like rat eater, are stored. Interesting topic for us syntax-all-the-way-down theorists.

Finally, here's a picture of a phrasal compound on a sign that my aunt took on a trip. The equine in question is so clearly ready to live up to his warning; don't mess with him.

7 Comments:

Blogger Estel said...

How about these, which I wrote in an email the other day?
"...I'd choose a lets-go-hang-out-at-[name]'s-place type thing over a lets-go-bowling type thing..."

10:18 AM  
Blogger JamesDiG said...

I'm so glad I've become a source of phrasal compounds! I always wanted to be a source of something...

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