(1) On yesterday's Daily Show, guest Vali Nasr summed up the situation in Lebanon with the following lovely example of a nonce causative manner-of-motion verb, one my fave features of English grammar:
You can't shock-and-awe Hezbollah out of Beirut.
B: With enough computational space, couldn't you implement a natural-selection approach to any programming problem? Just give it a few clues so the stuff will compile, give it a few little algorithms that it can embed or modify, and let the thing string together lines of code, looking for sequences that will do something useful towards a user-defined goal. Take the best ten results from every generation as the starting point for the next, and may the best code win. Maybe people are already doing this? (Thanks to a commenter for pointing me to this link about the progress being made in this area -- it's only a matter of time before humans never have to think again... :) )
III. Maybe pagoda-style roofs are good in rainy climates? Rain wouldn't run along to collect on the corners and erode foundation-threatening holes at the corners of the building, but rather drip with less impact off the length of the eaves?
Δ - Trying to decide on the meaning of a completive aspectual verb, ya'ate, in Hiaki (Yaqui, Yoeme) today, we were looking at the following sentence:
"It's already stopped raining."
We had some reason to think that ya'ate means something more like 'finish' than 'stop', but the main verb in the example here, and the translation, of course, made me wonder if it might really be more like 'stop' than 'finish'. I said as much, and someone asked me why -- what's the difference between stop raining and finish raining? Well, I said, let me put it this way: in Newfoundland, where I grew up, it does occasionally stop raining. But it never finishes raining. Har.
[Here's the thing: 'Rain' is usually a pretty good example of an activity verb, rather than an accomplishment like, say 'evaporate'—activities just come to a halt whenever, rather than culminate at a necessary endpoint. The meaning of 'stop' goes with pretty much any verb with a duration, while 'finish' is a bit pickier, preferring to go with a verb that has a natural endpoint built in. With accomplishment predicates you can really see the difference:
The water stopped evaporating ---> still some water left
The water finished evaporating ---> water all gone
He stopped building the house ---> complete house doesn't exist
He finished building the house ---> complete house exists, move on in.
So if ya'ate means something like 'finish', then it might be a little unusual to see it in combination with a non-culminating verb like 'rain', in an apparently episodic context like this. But maybe not; it's not like 'It finished raining' is uninterpretable or even unnatural. Heck, rain here in the southwest really does 'finish' -- the monsoon rains we're having right now will finish in a couple of weeks, and we won't see any more for at least three or four months. We're going to have to get some examples with good accomplishment predicates, and check the entailments.
Let me tell you, figuring this stuff out is fun! I am one lucky linguist.]