Literal-Minded

Linguistic commentary from a guy who takes things too literally

Archive for the ‘Multiple-level coordination’ Category

My Multiple-Level Coordination Collection

Posted by Neal on May 16, 2008

When I wrote about gas prices that “are outrageous, ridiculous, and just plain suck,” The Ridger commented:

That’s just like “should not be used by women who are pregnant, nursing, or might become pregnant”, which is all too common.

Right she is! Apparently this particular multiple-level coordination has a high enough profile that it’s making people’s peeve lists.
Ingeborg S. Nordén commented in May 2006:

Here’s another non-parallel coordination that drives me up the wall. I’ve heard it in so many drug commercials that I’d call this a “pharmacist’s coordination”.
[Drug name] is not intended for women who are [nursing], [pregnant], or [may become pregnant].

I included this example in my second post on multiple-level coordinations a couple of months later. I wasn’t going to write more about these coordinations until I had 100 of them, but I’m tired of seeing this draft lying around in my unfinished posts. Here are the examples I’ve collected so far, including those that I’ve written about before.

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Posted in Multiple-level coordination | 9 Comments »

Outrageous, Ridiculous, and Just Plain Suck

Posted by Neal on May 2, 2008

From today’s Columbus Dispatch:

Most say the gas prices are outrageous, ridiculous and just plain suck.
(Tim Doulin, “Going numb, gallon by gallon,” p. A4)

I am shocked and disgusted to read this kind of language in the newspaper! Here, I’ll fix it:

Most say the gas prices are outrageous, ridiculous and just plain sucky.

That’s better. Instead of the non-parallel coordination of the tree on the left, we have the nice, parallel coordination of the tree on the right.








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Posted in Multiple-level coordination | 10 Comments »

Doug’s Multiple-Level Coordination

Posted by Neal on March 10, 2008

What was going to be a Christmas present for Doug and Adam turned into a Valentine’s Day present. Then it turned into an (early) Easter present. But today, after months of delay, the game that Doug and Adam had been anticipating for months finally came out, and we went and picked up our copy of Hyper Crush Bros. Knockdown-Dragout. Doug and Adam started playing it as soon as we got home from our errands, and managed to get in a couple of rounds before it was time to wash up for supper. As we sat down, I asked them how they were liking it. Doug said:

We haven’t tried training mode, versing mode, or looked at all the items yet.

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Posted in Multiple-level coordination, The darndest things | 7 Comments »

Sinking and Living to Tell the Tale

Posted by Neal on December 13, 2007

If you can’t get enough of multiple-level coordinations like Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus and others that you’ll find in the posts in this category, go read Geoff Pullum’s two wonderfully literal-minded parsings of

How many people have been on a ship that’s hit an iceberg in the middle of the night, sunk, and lived to tell the tale?

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Syntactic Gems from Jared Diamond

Posted by Neal on September 20, 2006

The Language Guy mentions Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel in this post. Funny he should mention this book. I’ve never read it, but it recently made it onto my mental reading list because I’m finding another book by Jared Diamond so interesting. The book is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Aside from its compelling and scary content (supported by wide-ranging case histories that Diamond has done an astonishing amount of on-the-ground research for), I’ve found an unusually high number of syntactic or semantic oddities in this book. Enough, in fact, for me to gather them together in a single post here. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Multiple-level coordination, Non-ATB coordinations, Reviews, Right-node wrapping ("Friends in Low Places" coordinations) | 3 Comments »

It’s Sick, Twisted, and Smells Like Old Socks!

Posted by Neal on August 2, 2006

Ever since I wrote that post about being pompous, obese, and eating cactus, I’ve been seeing or hearing more multi-level coordinations. The ones that seem to turn up most are similar to Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus. These coordinations contain a verb phrase headed by some form of be, which is followed by a series of predicative complements, be they adjective phrases, noun phrases, participial phrases, or some combination. However, the last item in the list is not another predicative complement, but another entire verb phrase. For example:

It’s [sick], [twisted], and [smells like old socks]!
(“The Problem with Clones,” episode of Jimmy Neutron)

…for the most part, it was [clean], [easy to figure out], and [worked as advertised].
(Brian Bergstein, “Tool helps filter news feeds,” Associated Press, June 26, 2006)

Henry decided he liked best the people who gave them National Geographic, because it was [thick], [an easy size to handle], and [did not slip and slide].
(Beverly Cleary, Henry and the Paper Route, p. 119)

[Drug name] is not intended for women who are [nursing], [pregnant], or [may become pregnant].
(Noticed by Ingeborg S. Nordén, in a comment to this post.)

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Posted in Multiple-level coordination | 8 Comments »

Be Pompous, Obese, and Eat Cactus

Posted by Neal on April 28, 2006

It seems that Eric Bakovic of Phonoloblog has started another blog for non-phonology related postings. He’s still interested in strange coordinations, and writes about one of them in this post:

From this brief NYT piece, a quote from a recent visitor to the Darwin exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History:

“I just came from Pennsylvania specially for this. And I think everyone from Pennsylvania, Kansas and Pat Robertson should see this. How can you argue with this? It explains so much. But I think it will be preaching to the choir.”
Shelly Payson, 57, specialty toy retailer, Chesterbrook, Pa.

I agree: everyone from Pat Robertson should definitely see the exhibit.

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Posted in Multiple-level coordination | 4 Comments »