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I found a sentence... - I know it's wonky and I don't care [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kake

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I found a sentence... [Apr. 6th, 2005|01:02 pm]
Kake
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The sentence is this: "Viewed in a temporal perspective on a derivation, this produces a metaphor of moving them from one place to another.".

(a) Can you tell me what it means without seeing it in context?
(b) Can you tell me what it means after seeing it in context?
(c) Whether or not you know what it means, is there some sense in which you could say you like it?

You see, I do not know what it means, but I like it anyway. I like the way the words look and sound together, and I like the way the sentence moves along.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: flick
2005-04-06 12:15 pm (UTC)
a) If you looked at the change in their relationship as time went on, it was as though they were undergoing a journey.

b) (Having not read the whole thing) They are words that only appear relevent when you have read more of the text, and so their meaning changes with time. (I think.)

c) Yes.

I think I liked my meaning better. I certainly understand it better.

I shall now go and try to read the article.
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[User Picture]From: flick
2005-04-06 12:17 pm (UTC)
I shall now go and try to read the article.

I failed. I don't understand it.

Waaa....
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 01:33 pm (UTC)
I think it's the author that failed, not you.
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[User Picture]From: mstevens
2005-04-06 12:17 pm (UTC)
a) No
b) A little It's something to do with rules which allow bits of sentences to be moved from one part of the sentence to another where they ordinarily might not be found.
c) No. It is icky. I don't like the mention of metaphor - it sounds like the sentence components actually *are* moving from place to place. I can almost twist my brain around "viewed in a temporal perspective on a derivation", but it's a horrid phrase.
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[User Picture]From: tithonus
2005-04-06 01:05 pm (UTC)
i think i'll just ditto this one.
admittedly i dislike the phrase sufficiently to not be motivated to look at the link, so the b answer is not applicable.
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From: kaet
2005-04-06 12:18 pm (UTC)
I couldn't do it without looking, because I didn't know what "on a derivation" meant in this context.

Grammar can be seen as a process of constructing, or unconstructing, a sentence from/into components. Noun phrases and the like, I guess. This is a process which has a number of steps, in practice. These are normally seen as taking place over time "first this, then that". So, "first you divide the sentence into subject and predecate", or something. Using time as a means of thinking about derivation is viewing derivation in a temporal perspective.

When you view deriving sentences as a process which takes place over time, then some components of the sentences appear to move. (You also need to take a spacial perspective of sentences). At one moment (early in a derivation) a thing is over here, the next (later in a derivation) it is over there. Change of position over time is a movement, so we might say "wow, that thing's moved over there". So they call that movement, apparently. It's a metaphor because actually nothing moves at all. It's the same metaphor used in saying "move the -3x over to the left-hand side".

I don't like it because it's the kind of sentences people shout at me for writing, :).
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[User Picture]From: mstevens
2005-04-06 12:22 pm (UTC)
Grammar can be seen as a process of constructing, or unconstructing, a sentence from/into components. Noun phrases and the like, I guess. This is a process which has a number of steps, in practice. These are normally seen as taking place over time "first this, then that". So, "first you divide the sentence into subject and predecate", or something. Using time as a means of thinking about derivation is viewing derivation in a temporal perspective.

Possibly it's the CS perspective, but this feels so obviously like transforming a sentence through a series of functions that the idea that time is involved seems ridiculous and confusing.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 01:30 pm (UTC)
The thing that boggles me is that the author feels the need to explain that he's using a metaphor.
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From: kaet
2005-04-06 05:32 pm (UTC)
I guess that it's quite a nice compact description of the language processes that we use, without effort, to inuitivly come up with the idea of "movement". But since it's something so intuitive to anyone likely to be able to read that sentence, I'm not sure why they're explaining it!
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 05:46 pm (UTC)
You know, I've only just realised why I was referring to the author as "he", despite having no idea one way or another. It's because the surname is "Ross"...
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 01:02 pm (UTC)
Ah. So in fact "Viewed in a temporal perspective on a derivation, this produces a metaphor of moving them from one place to another. Hence, these rules are called movement rules." actually means "These rules are called movement rules, because they govern the action of moving an element from one place in the sentence to another."
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From: kaet
2005-04-06 01:29 pm (UTC)
Yeah, as I read it.

But (bizarrely) going to great lengths to say that there isn't actually any "movement" of words involved, that they stay firmly glued to the page, and that this is only a metaphor, and (presumably) that they're not saying that this corresponds to anything that actually moves in real human brains, or shifts along rails in the outside world, or such like. I'm not sure why they're making that all so precise and obscure.
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[User Picture]From: sphyg
2005-04-06 03:11 pm (UTC)
I was just about to say it's the kind of thing kaet would write ;P
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[User Picture]From: feanelwa
2005-04-06 05:24 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's what it says. If you're ever horribly poor and I'm very rich and need to read something like that (which is never going to happen in a billion years), I will pay you handsomely to do it.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 05:40 pm (UTC)
Sometimes I think how wonderful it would be to have a sort of parallel web, which had everything on the normal one, but made readable. You could distribute the work by giving it as exercises to people who were learning how to do things like write clearly or make web sites that have readable fonts.
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[User Picture]From: karen2205
2005-04-06 12:27 pm (UTC)
(a) No
(b) Almost. It seems to be trying explain why the ability to write the sentence (err - are these two examples actually sentences?) 'He said what?' as 'What did he say?' is called a 'movement' rule, even though there's no 'movement'. It gives the reasoning that certain constructions stand apart from the rest of the sentence they're in and thus there's an appearance of movement, when there isn't actually any real movement because these constructions are 'islands' that stand apart from the rest of the sentence.
(c) No, 'cos I feel like I'm clasping at straws to get even a general sense of its meaning so I feel silly for not understanding it, when it's about grammar, which is something I'm generally good at (opps and there I go ending a sentence with a preposition).
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 06:00 pm (UTC)
It gives the reasoning that certain constructions stand apart from the rest of the sentence they're in and thus there's an appearance of movement, when there isn't actually any real movement because these constructions are 'islands' that stand apart from the rest of the sentence.

Not quite. (The fact of the elements being islands is separate from the fact that the explanation uses a metaphor.) Everything before "Prototypic" is just saying that the concept of islands is important when you're applying movement rules.

it's about grammar, which is something I'm generally good at

It's not so much about prescriptive grammar, which is think is what you're referring to, but about linguistics, which is a completely different thing. Hm, let's see. Try this.

there I go ending a sentence with a preposition

Nothing wrong with that.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 08:17 pm (UTC)
Maybe this says something about me, but I immediately assumed that was a piece of art criticism.

Interesting! I'd not thought of that as a possible interpretation.

Are you an arty type, then?
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[User Picture]From: sashajwolf
2005-04-06 04:48 pm (UTC)
a) If you look at it as if it was happening sequentially, then it appears as if they were being moved from one place to another.

b) If you look at the conventional word order as the original form of the sentence and the unconventional order as a subsequent version, then it appears as if those groups of words had been moved from one place to another.

c) No, to me it seems artificially complicated beyond the point where I could find it aesthetically pleasing. It is not helped by the fact that it reminds me of the tendency in postmodern academic papers to accumulate jargon beyond its ability to communicate any actual meaning. Figuring it out was quite fun, though!
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[User Picture]From: feanelwa
2005-04-06 05:22 pm (UTC)
(a) No
(b) Still no
(c) No, because it's incomprehensible, and as a writer of scientific things I'm trained to find incomprehensible sentences and drop cyanide in their ears while they sleep.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2005-04-06 05:33 pm (UTC)
I strongly dislike it as a thing-that-explains, because it doesn't do its job. I like it in the way that I might like a nonsense poem.
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[User Picture]From: feanelwa
2005-04-06 05:42 pm (UTC)
My urge to destroy overcomes that part :( mind you it wasn't a very difficult part to overcome, because I've never seemed to get into nonsense poems.
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[User Picture]From: velarfricative
2005-04-06 06:35 pm (UTC)
Just passing by . . .

a) No, but only because one needs to know what this and them are bound to. I had a hunch that it was about syntax.
b) Yes.
c) Yes, but I liked it only before I looked up the context. (It's so awkward it's poetic, I agree). Then I was annoyed at how absolutely useless it was at explaining a simple concept. Also, as syntactic theory goes, it's weirdly outdated. I like Minimalism much better.
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[User Picture]From: nou
2006-05-10 03:34 pm (UTC)
I completely failed to follow up to this, didn't I? And now I'm having an inbox clearout, and I find the comment notification. I'm only a year late. Anyway, minimalism looks interesting. Is there somewhere I can read more about it?
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