25 September 2007

short takes from the interblag

a couple quick things i noticed today on my daily catching up with the internets:

you said what now? problems with foreign parsing

i read several sites in Italian to keep up on the world of soccer. a rather strange article surfaced on one of them today. it was about the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association, which so far in the article had only been referred to by its acronym IGLFA. as i skimmed through the article, i ran across this line, describing the organization:

Iglfa, l'associazione calcistica per donne e uomini omosessuali
i did a double take when i read it, because as i read i parsed "IGLFA, the football association for [women] and [gay men]." that would be a very strange group indeed! (the fact that this association exists at all sort of baffles me, but that's a completely non-linguistic matter and i won't take it up.) of course what i should have read was "the football association for gay [women and men]." i think i wouldn't have had any problem coming up with the appropriate reading if the sentence was in English and with the word order i just gave. but the fact that the adjective, modifying the entire conjoined phrase, comes last in Italian threw me off. however my brain dealt with the construction, it automatically presumed that the first conjunct [donne] was over and done with, not to be modified any further.

more matters Italian, "after the jump"

also from the Italian blogosphere, another usage that surprised me. it's recently become common for the front page of a blog to display only the beginning of each post (although i don't employ that here on my own blog). where the short version of the post ends is up to the writer, and they often mention what else is coming after the jump, i.e. if you click through and read the rest of the post. i thought this was fairly idiomatic, but it has made its was directly into Italian, as today i read a post that said
Dopo il salto il video con tutti i gol della sesta giornata di Serie B

Brit vs. US "slang qualifies as a whole new language" trope

bizarre article over on The Beautiful Game (via Deadspin)—they can't decide who is making up these crazy soccer terms. apparently they think it's the Brits, who are doing so just to mock the Americans. no one is sure how credible it is, and the fact that calling half a dozen slang terms the MLS's "own language" is in the context of something hopefully joking means the notion isn't a total loss. oh, and some of the "lexical entries", if you will, are pretty good:
KNOCK LIKE A BEAR KISS - The phrase used to describe when a tackle is more clumsy than dangerous, and appears to be worse than it actually was.
it took me all day to figure out that the apparent word salad [knock like a bear kiss] is an NP.

*also, if you didn't get the title reference, you really should read xkcd

20 September 2007

rocketboom gets linguistic

i am an infrequent viewer of rocketboom (at least since Amanda Congdon left the show, not that Joanne is bad, but i digress...) but i checked out today's show when i saw the title. it features several of the examples you find in your average LING 101 class designed to amaze/amuse/put to sleep the undergrads. among them:

  • structural ambiguity - "the woman saw the girl with a telescope." a classic. unfortunately mislabeled as lexical ambiguity
  • the @!@#$!&% buffalo sentence - i hate this. some people think it's the best thing ever.
  • semi-homophony in chinese - i bet chinese speakers hate this way more than the buffalo sentence.
  • garden path sentences - again the canonical example: "the horse raced past the barn fell." no mention of what they are, and no explanation other than a crappy mspaint drawing that actually misinterprets the sentence.
the horse raced past the fallen barn? um, close?

so yeah, that's all. five bucks says language log has a multi-page detailed explanation of this tomorrow.