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03-Jan-2019 02:02

My grade 8 English teacher inisted on something perhaps even stupider than the obligatory omission of omissible that (that) Geoff Pullum discusses. I couldn't give a monkey's fart about word puzzles. The expressive power of human language is barely adequate to convey the profound level of apathy word puzzles provoke in me. Actually Language Log is a bit too public a place for me to share the full visceral force of my reaction; ask me about them privately some time and I'll tell you how I really feel.What's the structure of "Sick sense of humor, these people"? Unlike the Pledge of Allegiance, it is not offensive to atheists, cannot be considered idolatrous, and expounds the values on which the United States was founded.It's related somehow to "These people have a sick sense of humor" -- but it's not quite right to take just any sentence of the form "These Plural Nouns have a Singular Noun Phrase" and transform it to "Singular Noun Phrase, these Plural Nouns". I queried Google with the pattern "these * have a", and tried transforming the first half a dozen examples with a suitable structure. Sounds kind of like one of those parodies of Bush 41 that used to be popular: These cars have a lot of problems. I talked recently with an undergraduate who told me something about her grammar instruction in the Los Angeles public schools.

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Score: correct spelling 39, wrong spelling (or irony) 1. We don't usually post things here without a language hook, so in honor of Memorial Day I'll just put up a link to a post that I wrote last fall for Veterans Day -- though the language hook was vestigial at best -- and another to a (more linguistic) post about military modal logic. Dennison points out that you have to read to the end of the AP story to learn how the overtones arose, namely because of protests led by Al Sharpton. It's a political question whether raising the racial issue was to Sharpton's credit or due to his "fault", but either way, his agency deserves to be placed higher in the story.But the AP writer achieves this vagueness by using the passive voice in only one of the two cases -- and it's not the one that Phil Dennison complained about.Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly posts a map of red vs.and complains that "[i]t just 'took them on,' out of the ether or the phlogiston, I guess. However, Dennison starts his post by writing "Here is a great example of how to mislead readers by using the passive voice", and ends "Don’t use the passive voice in news stories, kids.