Saturday, March 29, 2008

The expletive of the...

Interviewing Kimberly Peirce about the recent film Stop Loss, Jacki Lyden notes the action in one scene: "you actually have him -- expletive the president in front of his commanding officer." (link)

The double dash represents a pause and a filler 'um'.

I've never heard expletive used as a verb. And Lyden really struggled to reach this one. I've seen "expletive" used in place of an actual expletive in writing. It's usually as placeholder as a visual bleep.

I would expect to find the past tense form once its use as a verb has been established. A Google™ search brings up very little.

One result uses up the phrase "Last Updated and Expletived Over"

Another uses several forms in the replacement brackets several times. "I [expletived] a chick last night and while I was [expletiving] her, her [expletived] boyfriend came in and beat the [expletive] out of me."

Yet another includes a heading "Expletived Divorce Lawyers" on an entry heading that freely uses some dirty dirty words.

Of the 258 results for "expletived" the use as a verb is almost exclusively used (with or without brackets) as a filler for the...well...expletive.

The heading about the lawyers looks like Lyden's use in which to expletive is the same as to cuss or to swear or to curse at.

A search for the past tense following a noun phrase might sort out some relevant results.

"She expletived" brings up no relevant result.

"They expletived" brings up none.

"We expletived" brings up nothing.

"You expletived" brings up one result. The context helps clarify the meaning:
Then, during your lunch break, you get to the chapter called, “But, It’s Not Time to Quit Your Day Job.”


Unfortunately, you dripped mustard at the same time you expletived and now you can’t return the @#$% book to B&N.

"I expletived" brings up 2 relevant results:
One that redirects right after loading (but if you're quick you can stop the page and find the sentence) -- I got a couple of blocks up the road before I realized that we were foodless. I expletived, flipped a bitch, and drove back to the Taco Bell.

and another that quotes the act then announces it:
Fuck! I expletived. I told you I was too busy to write that for another month or two.

"He expletived" brings up one result:
Oh Krif me! He expletived as he pulled out his blaster pistol and began to fire upon an on coming bug.

This isn't such a strange extension. It's similar to the likely extension of curse.n to curse.v.

Monday, March 24, 2008

I'm busy. You discuss it.

I'm in the middle of some experiment design (on forms of negative concord that are not strongly marked) and a literature review (on the topic of sound change and the categorizing of prescriptions) and presentation preparation (on a corpus-based analysis* of ISIS as a syntax-phonology interface mending strategy).

My posting has been sparse lately. But I've been filling up the tank.

Note that experiment design and presentation preparation can be used as mass nouns but literature review has to be a count noun? Is this true for you too good reader?

Do you have any thoughts as to why this is?


*someone else's work -- not my own.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

English on statistical deathbed

According to the statistics provided by the Global Language Monitor English is only 4,882 words short of a million.

I mentioned Paul JJ Payack's accounting project a month ago. So why bring it up again?

Because in an entire month not a single new word has entered the English Language! Not one. No explanation has been given for this stagnant spell.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Safer than lawn darts

Quick question.

What do you call the game played by throwing little bags at a board like the one pictured here?

I've heard the following:

bean bags
tailgate toss

One friend responded saying I'm going to say bag-in-the-hole because it's filthy.

Not all answers need be so judgmental. And if you're able to supply any regional information that'd be great too. A friend introduced me to the game in North Dakota where all I heard was bean bags.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

And I can barely make it in the prose features a poem every day. Today's featured poem (for Saturday March 15, 2008) is Black Baldwin Grand by my friend Gretchen.

She's the saint who puts up with Casey's nonsense all day every day.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Take this job and put it

I don't know what the impact of the phrase is in Venezuela. But several English translations are claiming that Hugo Chávez said America can "shove" its terrorist list.

The AP headline: Chavez says US can 'shove' terrorist list.

The story quotes him: "Let them make that list and shove it in their pocket."

The Canadian press uses the same quote.

The Reuters story quotes Chávez: "Great, let them make their list and shove it in their ... pocket,"

What's the original Spanish? "Bueno, que hagan esa lista y se la metan en el ... bolsillo."

A close (and therefore awkward, ungrammatical and unclear) wording: Well, that they make that list and put them it in the pocket.

the phrase "se la metan" Contains the verb in question. There's a reflexive sense best translated in combination with "el bolsillo" meaning something like put it into their own pocket. The verb meter is simply to put in.

The English verb shove has strong connotations with putting things in other places. And it's likely that the Spanish verb has a similar connotation. A few sources add the ellipses which I imagine is meant to indicate a pause. I haven't found video or audio of the statement.

Think of someone saying stick it in your...ear. Or put it or cram it or shove it.

Place it doesn't quite capture it does it?

Neither can I

In a recent LL post Geoffrey Pullum says "But I can't make head or tail of it."

I've only heard the plurals in that idiom: "heads or tails". Is Pullum playing with the idiom or is that how he's always heard/used it? Is that an earlier form of the idiom? Is it a typo or is it a purposeful reminder of the original?

So I do a quick Google™ search.

"make head or tail of it" -- 23,500 hits
"make heads of tails of it" -- 33,200 hits

Of course this doesn't answer any of my questions. It was just surprising to see how close they are in hits. I expected the ratio would favor the plurals by a lot more.

And there was another result that didn't clarify any of my questions. The first result for "heads or tails": this LL post -- also by Pullum.

...lest linguists be judged (II)

Dave has left a carefully thought out and nicely written comment on the last post. And it's relevant to the topic I promised for today: why prescriptivism and descriptivism are not true opposites.

His comment starts off with some important claims. I agree with some and disagree with others.

Agree: The prescriptivist doesn't have to believe that "might could" is wrong in any absolute sense.

Many prescriptivists don't make an argument of absolute or intrinsic evil. Or any evil at all. The judgment against a form is usually about the ability of a form to serve a purpose. Therefore...

Agree: He could correct someone simply because...he believes that there are advantages to having a standard.

Disagree: The distinction between the two groups is based in the question of whether a culture has the right to enforce its own norms. The anti-prescriptivist seems to hold that a culture should have no authority over a speaker.

Linguists don't even question that a culture enforces its own norms. And we don't want to change that. The only disagreement here might be the relative effectiveness of forms of enforcement and what methods are necessary. Native English speaking children don't have to be told that if the past tense of a verb follows a determiner it is a passive use of a past participle used adjectivally. A child with typical native exposure to English will correctly answer the question where are the washed dishes? on a first encounter -- never told that the syntactic category of verb can't follow a determiner. Chances are, that child will never hear that. The kid's parents probably wouldn't even be able to give more than a primary judgment that the sentence would otherwise be ungrammatical.

Where did the child learn this? And where did little Jodi Midwest learn that the /aɪ/ diphthong alternates with [əɪ] when it precedes a voiceless obstruent? Did anyone have to tell me? No one ever did.

But I was surrounded by native speakers and I learned the productive rules of grammar so that the first time I saw the work tike I knew that the vowel was the same as the vowel in rice but not the same as time.

And what of forms of enforcement don't work? This may be one of the biggest differences. Let's take a look at the nominative|accusative confusion that I mentioned in a recent post. When the accusative me form started showing up in coordinated phrases where the nominative I had been standard prescriptivists started calling it to everyones attention. And people did listen. What they heard was that me was being overused. So they started using I in coordinated phrases even as an accusative. That's hypercorrection. Careful prescriptivists have caught this and many of them are now focused on another side of the argument making the case that I is being overused. Overt arguments for preferred grammatical forms (prescriptions) can gain their adherents. And some speakers will work hard to speak according to these prescriptions. Prescriptions will collect supporters. But language will move in other directions at the same time. Arguments that there should be absolute regularity are nice -- but they are misguided. Language is is both grammatical and lexical. There are forms that follow rules and there are arbitrary exceptions to these rules. This is true in every language. And in both the non-standard and standard dialects. And in colloquial register and formal register.

And a linguist can explain the pattern of cases and hypercorrections and changes. And we can explain how to recognize the nominative and accusative cases to anyone who asks. And most linguists will say that the forms are of varying conspicuousness depending on the context. And we might even give advice regarding the effective use of different registers.

Agree: "This is a moral judgment and has nothing to do with linguistics."

Dave says this about the argument of who should have influence over language. Most linguists are not willing to say that certain people should have influence over language. And they are not too likely to say that anyone shouldn't have influence over the language. They're more interested in the question of who does and who doesn't.

In personal correspondence casey asks if there has "ever been a time when prescriptivism was defended in intellectual circles?" Yes. By true intellectuals. Still.

I want to be clear about this. Prescriptivism is not the product of simple thinking. Prescriptivists are investigators. They often do well in school. They analyse arguments and shape their claims with great interest and care. They work hard at their opinions. They are tenacious thinkers and they often reach the heights of their field. They just tend not to be linguists.

And I have to say that a lot of the ideology that Dave defends is not full prescriptivism as I define it. It isn't prescriptivism to use a textbook to teach the patterns of language; or teaching students to adhere to a standard in writing or even in speech; or letting a speaker know that there are varying registers even within a single dialect and that an audience will make certain judgments based on the word forms, syntactic forms, and phonological forms used. An instructor or confidant can give advice on language choices. And you know what? So can a linguist. How is this possible?

Because prescriptivism and descriptivism are not true opposites. Wha-?

You can adopt a prescriptive view and still practice descriptivism. Huh-?

Stay with me.

Descriptivism is a premise to a method of study. Linguists agree to approach every language with no biases other than interest. It's okay if a linguists is excited about the possibility that a language has fewer phonemes than any other language as long as the linguist is honest about the findings. It's OK if a linguist is fascinated by evidence that one language doesn't have a present progressive form. As long as that linguist promises to describe the evidence accurately. And it's even OK if a linguist is somehow annoyed by the rhythm or bored by the extremely regular phrase structure in a language. As long as the description represents the actual prosody or structure.

Descriptivism is a promise to report what is found.

Prescriptivism is a range of conclusions based on those findings. Should speakers (or interested non-speakers) make a conscious effort to preserve or change those findings? What form should that effort take? Have we heard about linguists working to preserve endangered languages? Of course. Is there a prescriptive agenda in that? Yes. Where is the line? The value given to method of influence. If a body of speakers realistically can be encouraged to pass on the language then linguists trust that using the language with children is vital. And teaching it to adults is helpful.

Here's the most important line: linguists have no interest in discouraging any form from being available to speakers.

That suspicious singularity among linguists is not because of a shared ethos antithetical to prescriptivism. It's because no linguist needs to be prescriptive. Linguistic inquiry does not rely on any notion of what features a language would be better or worse for having. It doesn't rely on any notion of which features should characterize a dialect of power. We recognize that there are standard dialects and just as our scholarship isn't based on a view they deserve that power our study also has no need to lament the fact that they have it.

Linguists don't have much control over the course language. And we don't want it. While such an interest amongst linguists would pose no threat to society or even to language -- it would pose a threat to the accuracy of our descriptions. And accurate description is our scholarly task.

Coming posts:
So what about that partisan political bias?

And what is a dialect? (Just for casey I'll try a lame introduction to an entire field within linguistics.)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

...lest linguists be judged

A friend's comment on a recent post challenges the absolute virtue of the commonly shared stance among linguists, against prescriptivism. How do we know we're right to reject a prescriptive view?

Linguists like to use the analogy of a biologist who simply describes a cell but doesn't judge its ±goodness. This analogy works well when we tell our intro students that there's no reason to say that a cell differentiated to function in a liver is better or worse than a cell differentiated to function in a leaf.

But what about cells that aren't differentiated? Is a cancer cell just as good as a stem cell? Here we need to nuance the claim that we are indifferent to the ±goodness of any segment. To say that I don't care about the goodness does not mean that I don't care about ill effects of a segment. Several months ago in a public forum I was accused of being too clinical in my views. If there is a danger or risk to a pure descriptivist agenda it might be captured by the old adage -- the familiar call to action: all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Are linguists doing nothing? Is there evil out there and we are simply unwilling to call it such? Is it possible that there is evil out there and descriptivism is simply the refusal to admit that there might be? That's part of what I hear casey asking. But instead of evil let's just go by by the simplest and most common label: bad grammar.

This is where linguists have taken the time to give texture to both words in the phrase. What is grammar and what does it mean for it to be bad? Here is where a common claim must be addressed. Linguists do believe in grammar. Linguistics relies on grammar. If there were no grammar linguistics would have no system to study. Any argument that linguists believe anything goes in language overlooks the very premise of linguistics: that not anything goes and there's value in trying to find out how those constraints are formed.

Consider the following two strings of words intended to mean that taking a shortcut is possible:

1. You might could take the shortcut.
2. You might the could shortcut take.

Which of these would a prescriptivist mark as ungrammatical? Most likely both. Which would a linguist mark as ungrammatical? First the linguist would have to determine a dialect for which to make the judgment. Most would note that sentences like #1 do occur grammatically in some dialects but not sentences like #2 -- a distinction that prescriptivists do not consider relevant.

But allowing for more texture to the prescriptivist argument: few will disagree that some speakers do knowingly utter sentences like #1 regularly. Those who do a little investigation will find that some speakers do use the double modal structure. Knowing and admitting that fact is not enough to be called a descriptivist. So a few more will agree that double-modal users even think the structure is OK. These facts are acknowledged by both prescriptivists and descriptivists.

Thus far we have agreement regarding claims about sentence 1 and sentence 2.

Claim                              P        D
S#2 doesn't occur in English X X
S#1 doesn't occur in dialect A X X
S#1 does occur in dialect B X X
S#1 sounds OK to speakers of B X X

That last claim can then be split into subclaims defining what OK means. What does it mean to hear something as OK? What does hear mean? This has been investigated by many linguists who are concerned with the nature of competence and performance. What do these speakers of B hear when they say a sentence like #1?

It's on these questions and their implications that prescriptivists and descriptivists are likely to begin the most crucial disagreements.

Prescriptivism often relies on the premise qua conclusion that a speaker who is willing to utter S#1 only accepts the structure because of a less discerning ear or a less careful mouth. The argument that language is deteriorating has to rest on the belief that poorer forms are adopted because their fault is either not noted or if noted it's not heeded. From that come the diverging reactions to the claim that S#1 sounds OK to some speakers.

Claim                              P        D
S#1 speakers of B are wrong X

Here is where linguists vary in their reasons for not agreeing to this statement. Because a standard has to be agreed upon. And the role of that standard is key. Linguistics is dedicated to the belief (that has been well supported by evidence) that speakers of B are more sensitive to the grammar of B than are speakers of A. This is where grammaticality judgements and other evidence of competence are often used to show that non-standard forms are not evidence of poorer sensitivity but different sensitivity.

I must repeat: Linguists do not believe that language should not have rules. Descriptivism is simply an agenda of inquiry that recognizes that the rules that do exist will vary between vastly different and unrelated languages as well as between almost identical dialects of a single language.

And linguists know very well that there are grammatical standards that are associated with power and which have a very real effect when ignored in various contexts. This knowledge is not prescriptive.

Next post: why prescriptivism and descriptivism are not true opposites.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Not that I care about authorial intent...

Any writer who wants to establish the snobbery of a character has only to throw in a line in which the elitist corrects someone's grammar. It's quick realistic and obvious. But the characters aren't to blame. They were made that way. I'm not about to start tilting at fictional windbags.

And what television character is written to be more of a snob than Frasier Crane? Well maybe Diane Chambers...

One possibly nuanced exchange from season 9 of Frasier caught my attention. This was written into episode 12: Mother Load: Part 1.

Frasier and Martin commenting on Daphne's decision to move out of Frasier's home so she can live with Niles:

Martin  : Well I guess from now on it's just you and I.
Frasier : "You and me" Dad.
Martin : [sarcastically] This is gonna be great.

Just how many characterizations did writer Lori Kirkland fold into this exchange?

  1. Frasier is a snob.

  2. He's a prescriptivist.

  3. He's aware of hypercorrection -- specifically that the nominative I is often used when the dative/accusative me is the prescribed form.

  4. He's so eager to make the distinction that he ignores an opportunity to connect with his father and instead remarks on his grammar.

  5. He's so eager to show his knowledge that he offers an 'incorrection' to an utterance that he mistakenly thinks is a hypercorrection.

Frasier was one of those 'intelligent' award-winning shows, which I've come to think simply means that the critics think they caught a bunch of jokes that most viewers probably missed.

But a bit of dialogue like this in which the snob is left unchallenged --an unresolved fallibility in which a peevologist hamming it up could be hoist with his own petard but gets away with it -- might be a well-crafted portrait deserving of the praise usually slathered on tired literary references and bad puns.

Monday, March 10, 2008

DS Eliot?

I don't feel like taking the time to go through and count every voiceless stop in the following reading by TS Eliot of his poem "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock". If I could I might figure out some sort of a pattern to his alternation of ±aspiration when /t/ /p/ and /k/ are word/syllable initial.

A quick listen reveals that the aspiration is a little stronger and more frequent on /k/. We hear "come" "coat" and "coller" pronounced [khʌm] and [khəʊt] and [khɑlə]. Not heavy aspiration. He says "coffee" with much less. It's almost unaspirated.

There's also some evidence that when a /t/ is word final Eliot aspirates it. In the line "let us go and make our visit" the /t/ in "let" sounds slightly aspirated (there's not much flapping going on) and there's a clear aspirated release on "visit" at the end of the line instead of a glottal stop.

Of course there's also the phrase "of insidious intent to lead you" and the /t#/ of "intent" is clearly not aspirated -- which is expected because of the adjacent /#t/ of "to". It's the unaspirated word initial /t/ that sounds most conspicuous.

There's his pronunciation of "days" around 1:40. If an exceedingly intent speaker was to enunciate the consonants in "and days" it would likely come across as [ɛndh deɪz]. Normal speech would rarely separate the adjacent Ds. The pronunciation would typically delete the coda resulting in [ɛndeɪz]. Following "and" it's odd to hear a stop of voice. And that's probably what makes his pronunciation sound like [teɪz] to me: I don't expect to hear the break between an alveolar nasal and a voiced alveolar stop so I perceive the -voice as a feature of the stop.

Of course I wonder how specifically affected Eliot's phonology is. Pay attention around 3:00 when Eliot says "to spit out all the butt ends of my days and ways." The reading of a poem is a performance and it's not necessarily relevant to any questions of dialect or production. It's more relevant to questions of perception. The distinction between the aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stop onset is difficult to illustrate to students. I use a [th] and they recognize it easily. I get rid of the aspiration and they think it's a [d]. I alternate between [t⁼] and [d] as a minimal pair and they often can't even hear the difference. (Intervocalically it's easier.)

From now on I'll just play this clip for them. If they can't hear that it sounds odd I'll just give up and move on to the next topic.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Link it forward

The Ridger has very kindly nominated this blog for an 'E' rating.

I am asked to accept with this honour the simple task of nominating at least 10 other blogs for the rating. (This is the type of nomination that in itself confers the honor. There's no final vote to grant the award. We're all winners.)

I would really have trouble nominating that many blogs. Not because I can't think of that many good blogs -- I can of course; just look at my sidebar -- but because the more blogs I nominate, the more reasons I need not to keep nominating. So I'll ask your kind permission (whoever you are) to nominate fewer than the ten.

MXRK (A good blog. A troubled man.)
Insignificant Wranglings (This guy actually believes most of what he says)
Literal-Minded (Nominated already--but his posts on syntax are some of my favourites.)
separated by a common language (A simple and clear concept is best. She plumbs the Atlantic chasm scrupulously.)


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Maybe a pre-interview would have helped

Violations of Gricean maxims of cooperation are easy enough to create in a classroom setting for illustration. In the wild they often occur because of a misunderstanding. It's a little tougher to find good examples of willing violations -- or knowingly uncooperative discourse.

A quick recap of the four principles as set up by Grice (1975):

Quantity - Be as informative as necessary and no more.
Quality - Be as accurate as you can be.
Relation - Be relevant.
Manner - Be clear unambiguous direct and well-ordered.

Today's example: a violation of the maxim of relation.

The clip has been around long enough to have inspired parodies. But I found it just recently.

Monday, March 03, 2008

He invented neither tacos nor crackers.

Have you noticed the funny little man with an old phone on today's Google™ logo?

The mouseover text informs you that it's Alexander Graham Bell. And a little common sense (or a little research) should lead you to realize that it's the anniversary of his birthday.

A quote to commemorate the occasion:

The thorax is the treasure-house of the human body,--a veritable strong-room, girt about with walls of bone for the protection of those precious organs the heart and lungs. Let us imagine ourselves for a moment inside the thorax, but first, with your permission, let us empty this safe-deposit vault of its valuable contents, so that we my have space for exploration.

When the logo is taken down you might still find it here.

Two memes

Meme the First:

1) Link to the person who tagged you.
2) List 7 random/weird things about your favorite historical figure.
3) Tag seven more people at the end of your blog and link to theirs.
4) Let the person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog.

The Ridger tagged me.

This is a tough one because I've never done any study of historical biography. Any facts that I give are sure to be the same facts that are found in an elementary textbook. I'm having trouble even thinking of a figure that hasn't been featured in an A&E special.

Well -- here are some facts about the Venerable Bede:

1. Born ca 672 CE (Tho he is said to have popularized Dionysius Exiguus' convention of using Anno Domini to mark years.)

2. From the age of 7 he was raised and educated in the monastery of St Peter and St Paul at Wearmouth and Jarrow.

3. His study of astronomy and the calendar indicates he knew the earth was spherical.

4. He is one of three patron saints of lectors.

5. He wasn't much of a traveller.

6. His most important work was Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum (Ecclesiastical History of the English People).

7. You can pray to him. Like this:
Careful Historian and Doctor of the Church, lover of God and of truth, you are a natural model for all readers of God's inspired Word. Move lectors to prepare for public reading by prayerfully pondering the sacred texts and invoking the Holy Spirit. Help them to read in such a way that those who hear may attain learning and edification. Amen.

(now whether he'll ever get the message...)

Meme the Next:

I've also been tagged by Monica at Dreaming Without Memory in Strangled Sleep.

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people.

I've seen this meme on some other blogs lately. The first time I saw it Dante's Divine Comedy was next to me. That would have made for a great paragraph that even included the word "fen" -- a favorite of mine. But I wasn't tagged then. Now I have to be true to the instructions. And there are two books within the span of my arm's sweep. I'll quote both.

1. Phonology in Generative Grammar, Michael Kenstowicz:

Taking the voiceless affricate series as representative, Navaho matches its [ts,č,ts] to Sarcee's [ts,ts,č]. While the corresponding [ts]'s in the first series suggest Proto-Athabaskan *ts, it is unclear whether to reconstruct *č or *ts for the second or third series; and in any case, another consonant will still be required to distinguish among them. If one did not believe in the regularity of sound change, one might simply conclude that there is no systematic correspondence in these consonants between Navaho and Sarcee (other than a negative one that [č] never matches).

2. Experimental Syntax: Applying Objective Methods to Sentence Judgments, Wayne Cowart:
It is also worth bearing in mind that the standard statistical sense of "significant" has no necessary connection to questions about theoretical importance. Differences may be simultaneously significant (from a statistical point of view) and boring (from a theoretical point of view). Whether a statistically significant difference matters in some larger sense can only be determined by examining its relevance to alternative theories that bear on the situation in which the difference arises.

I used to be cool.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Nintendo is a nighttime game

John McWhorter is featured today on C-SPAN's In Depth.

And I have the subtitles running as always. During a profile segment showing him in his home answering questions about his work habits he explains that he finds he's doing a lot of his work and writing quite late. I assume he meant late -- he used the phrase "wee hours".

Of course that's how I heard it. Whoever was doing the captions must be playing a lot of video tennis lately. The transcription:

...the Wii hours are good for me.



One caller asked McWhorter why so many linguists have moved into political discussions. His list of examples: Chomsky, Lakoff, Safire, Nunberg, McWhorter.

One of these is not like the others.]


Saturday, March 01, 2008

Don't blame him for what you're thinking he's obviously doing

Bill Cunningham is "a bit of an historian". He's now on a campaign to continue the traditions of respect for presidential candidates.

"You might recall Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight David Eisenhower and John Fitzgerald Kennedy, William Jefferson Clinton. The man who would be president...normally the middle name is employed in order to give the man more dignity and more respect."

So that's why he insists on using the full name of Barack Hussein Obama.

His goal: "simply to state the fellow's name much like I often say John Sidney McCain the Third."

His intentions are his own to know -- and the rest of us can only make judgments based on his probable rhetorical interests.

(listen to his NPR interview with Robert Siegel)

I might never be able to prove it, but this looks like a relevant twist on the question I posed a while ago about loaded terms. The intention in question: why use language that's both accurate and loaded.

Cunningham claims it's because it's accurate.

I believe it's because it's loaded.

Facetious terms

Later in the interview Siegel asks Cunningham what he thinks of John McCain choice to denounce the use of Obama's full name with divisive intentions.


Sad -- it is very sad for a gentleman who did not hear what I said -- who has met me several times but has forgotten about it he might have half-heimers -- the guys gettin' a bit old. It is sad when he forgets meeting me and then having not heard me he criticizes words that I didn't say, that he didn't hear, and then throws me under the Straight Talk Express.

It's new play on Alzheimer's. The old joke was the eggcorny joke: 'old-timers'. The joke is now with 'Alz' apparently being analyzed as the 'all' morpheme. So if full dementia is of the All(z)heimer's type, temporary mild or selective memory loss is of the Half-heimers type.

Google™ hits.

"halfheimers" 749
"half heimers" 590
"halfheimer's" 85
"half heimer's" 57