Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

At the Movies

Posted by Neal on June 10, 2013

Over the weekend, Doug, Adam, the wife, and I went to see Now You See Me, and it was really good! It was so good that I let my wife go and get the family’s large bucket of popcorn refilled in the middle of the movie instead of doing it myself. I also never bothered going out to refill my large pop. I don’t have much to say regarding linguistics about the movie, except that I wonder how much of the overseas audience will know that they’re supposed to mentally supply “…now you don’t” to the title. (Does that catchphrase exist in other languages?) But there were two things to comment on before the movie.

As the wife was getting our tickets at the automated kiosk, she said, “Wow, there are only seven seats left!” Really? We were 20 minutes early! All the same, we hustled toward the ticket-taker, who said as he handed us our stubs, “That’ll be house seven, on your left.”

That misunderstanding was so funny I had to make a note of it on my phone once we took our seats in house 7. But after standing in line to buy that big tub of popcorn and the refillable drinks to which I have alluded, I had to hurry up with the memo, because the part of the trailer saying how it was time to silence and put away all cell phones and mobile devices was coming on.

Then the previews began, and the first one had a mysterious hooded figure telling someone about her destiny. Doug leaned over me to whisper to Adam, “It’s Assassin’s Creed!” But a minute later, his hopes disintegrated when the preview turned out to be for something called The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. However, I heard a sentence in the preview that I wanted to write down–but I’d silenced and put away my cell phone! So instead, I took my pen and wrote as best I could in the dark:

Not bad, for writing mostly blind

See that? There’s only so long you can hide from the truth. It’s another one like There’s only so small I can cut it and There’s only so memorized the thing can get. An existential There is that introduces not a noun phrase, but an adjective or adverb. (Adverb, in this case.) Nice!

Then we finally got to the feature itself, and I saw a production logo that I wasn’t familiar with. It turned out to be for “K/O Paper Products.” Bob Orci’s company! I hadn’t known they were producing this movie! All I knew about was that big sci-fi epic that had their name all over it this summer, and their Ender’s Game movie coming out this fall. But being as how Bob regaled Doug and Adam with magic tricks at the rehearsal dinner for their Uncle Glen’s wedding last fall, seeing an Orci-produced movie about magicians was even more fun.

About these ads

3 Responses to “At the Movies”

  1. For me, the ‘there’s only so long’ example sounds a lot more natural than the adjective examples. Netspeak, a corpus-based collocation finder includes ‘long’ in its top four collocations for ‘there’s only so’, after ‘much’, ‘many’ and ‘far’, but finds no adjective collocations at all.

    Google Books gives nearly 8,000 results for ‘there’s only so long’, but only 3 for ‘there’s only so small’ (and they’re a bit doubtful). This is borne out by Ngram, which shows ‘there’s only so long’ rising in popularity since around 1970, but well behind ‘so far’. It shows nothing nothing for ‘so small’ or ‘so short’.

    http://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=there+is+only+so+far%2Cthere+is+only+so+long%2Cthere+is+only+so+small%2Cthere+is+only+so+short&year_start=1940&year_end=2000&corpus=15&smoothing=3&share=

    I have to admit, though, that ‘there’s only so small’ seems to get plenty of hits on Google Web Search, top billing going to your good self. So perhaps it’s an ongoing development that hasn’t got into books yet.

  2. palavering2u said

    You don’t eat healthy, do you?

    Sent from Windows Mail

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 380 other followers

%d bloggers like this: