2005-08-23

Abstract for Richard Kayne's Movement & Silence

What follows is the abstract for Richard Kayne's Oxford U Press Book Movement & Silence (2005), as reported in LINGUIST announcement 16.2454, of August 24:

This volume collects important recent articles by Richard Kayne, one of the top formal linguists in the world. Although the articles range widely in topic and theme, they hang together in that they illustrate the power of the comparative approach, and that they reinforce Kayne's view that syntax is generally more complex than it first appears. As with other volumes in this series, the audience for the volume will be formal linguists and syntacticians around the world.

My question is, has Richard Kayne read this abstract? Will it appear on the cover of the book? Phrases like "top formal linguists in the world", "[essays that] hang together" and "power of the comparative approach" are beyond hackneyed and made me cringe as I read them. Is the abstract comparing Kayne to linguists from other worlds? Maybe Chomsky's Martians? Or some syntactician from Twin Earth? Then there's the nice, awkward conjunction that suggests one can't be both a formal linguist AND a syntactician: "the audience for the volume will be formal linguists and syntacticians". And the final crowning claim of the abstract is that the volume "reinforces Kayne's view that syntax is generally more complex than it first appears". Who would have ever thought? Syntax more complex than it appears? No. I refuse to believe it.

I don't know who wrote the abstract, but I can only hope it wasn't Kayne himself.

2005-08-09

Dictionary shows why it's easier to be nasty than nice

WHEN it comes to being nasty we are rarely lost for words, according to a new dictionary that shows there are almost ten times as many insulting expressions as there are complimentary ones.

The revised second edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English, published today, provides 350 ways of insulting people - but only 40 compliments. [snip]

Catherine Soanes, co-editor of the dictionary, said: "Sad to say, it seems to be part of human nature to focus on people's negative qualities rather than to praise them. Our research shows that there are nearly ten times as many rude and insulting words than complimentary ones."

This negative information comes as no surprise to this Neg-head, or as the Yale linguistics Negation guru himself prefers, "negaholic".

2005-08-07

No-Carb Dieters Booted From Buffet

A suburban Salt Lake City couple on the Atkins Diet have a beef with a local restaurant after being booted from the buffet for eating too much meat. Isabelle Leota, 29, and her husband Sui Amaama, 26, both on the no-carb diet, were dining Tuesday at a Chuck-A-Rama in the Salt Lake City suburb of Taylorsville when the manager cut them off because they'd eaten too much roast beef.

"It's so embarrassing actually," said Leota. "We went in to have dinner, we were under the impression Chuck-A-Rama was an all-you-can-eat establishment."

Not so, said Jack Johanson, the restaurant chain's district manager. "We've never claimed to be an all-you-can-eat establishment," said Johanson. "Our understanding is a buffet is just a style of eating."

The last two paragraphs present the most interesting tidbits in this piece. Leota assumed--as did I--that buffet in the restaurant sense means 'all you can eat'. After reading the restaurant manager's "redefining" of the term to suit his side of the argument I was ready to knock him for being a weaseler. However, nowhere in the OED is the 'all you can eat' sense given. All of the relevant buffet definitions in the OED refer to eating off a bar or side-board, or as Johanson says above, "[buffet as] a style of eating."

Thus, while I still think common usage of the term buffet is more in favor of the 'all you can eat' sense of the Leotas, I guess I have to give the Clintonian restaurant manager a pass...this time.
I post this story as the first official nomination for the Clintonian Word Abuse Award.