Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Clever New Syntactic Tool

In a recent post I adverted to some of the new experimental syntax tools honed by Jon Sprouse for investigating grammatical structure.  Here's another very clever use of current technology that Matt Wagers thunk up. I will feed you a teaser and leave a URL. It's very clever and even theoretically suggestive. Here's the intro and here the URL:

"... aircraft carriers where planes land on them"

Resumptive pronouns and the not-quite-verbatim memory of Twitter users

Matt Wagers
updated 28 October, 2012
In the 3rd Presidential Debate (Oct 22, 2012), one of President Obama's most talked about retorts to Governor Romney was the following:
Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets — (laughter) — because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.
Notably (to a linguist), Obama appeared to link two clauses via a resumptive pronoun. The two clauses are in bold, the resumptive underlined. Resumptive pronouns are a grammatical device found in many languages of the world (1), but they are reliably not judged as acceptable in English (2; despite seemingly being often produced).
A look at how Twitter users reported Obama's zinger provides some insight into how sentences containing resumptives are encoded. Although many users might copy and paste the text from a transcript, others will simply try to reproduce what they heard from memory.Verbatim memory is difficult to achieve in most contexts, since memory for exact form appears to be rather labile. Indeed, when people do reproduce exact form, it appears they mostly don't rely on any surface representation (i.e., anything like a 'mental transcript'); instead speakers reformulate based on the gist of what was heard and the recently activated lexical items (3). In other words, recollection of linguistic form from memory involves some reformulation of the underlying message. Thus seeing how ungrammatical sentences are repeated can give us insight into their underlying representation.


  1. Kunjungi Situs Liga Bintang Taruhan Bola | Togel Online | BandarQ | Casino Online | Slot Terpecaya.

    Liga Bintang

    Liga Bintang Lounge

    Taruhan Bola


    - Minimal Deposit Rp 50.000
    - Minimal Withdraw Rp50.000

    WA : +62 822 2945 7557

    Pendaftaran GRATIS !
    Menerima Deposit Pulsa, OVO, DANA, GOPAY Dan Bank Dalam Negeri Indonesia.

  2. Serbu4D merupakan salah satu perusahaan slot deposit pulsa tanpa potongan yang menyediakan deposit via pulsa terbaik dan terpercaya di Asia.
    Kami perusahaan yang menyediakan permainan Togel Sydney, Togel Singapore, Togel Hongkong , Slot Online, Live casino dan Tembak ikan tersebut memberikan keamanan dan keyamanan untuk semua calon pemain kami.
    Rasakan sensasi main Slot online deposit via pulsa TANPA POTONGAN sekarang juga. Mainkan semua permainan yang kami sediakan via gadget atau komputer anda sekarang juga hanya di situs slot online deposit pulsa nomor 1 di Asia.
    Slot Online
    Login Serbu4d
    Daftar win88

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Slotbet4d adalah situs judi slot terbaik dengan fitur judi slot online gampang menang dan juga terbukti sebagai agen judi terpercaya yang membayar semua kemenangan para member.
    Slot Bet 4d
    live casino