I'd been meaning to mention (and now I will) that I very much liked the anecdote that actress Laura Dern told on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday a few weeks ago, about working on Inland Empire with director David Lynch. One of the producers reported having received a terse instruction from Mr Lynch: "Get me a one-legged woman, a monkey, and a lumberjack, by 3:15 this afternoon." Was he joking? Ms Dern says she told him: "Yeah, you're on a David Lynch movie, dude. Sit back and enjoy the ride."
"But what did it mean?", the man wanted to know. She told him: "It means you have to find a one-legged woman, a monkey, and a lumberjack, by 3:15 this afternoon."
Language use is often obscure, or indirect, or metaphorical, or hyperbolic, or linguificatory. But sometimes a prefix is just a prefix, and a cigar is just a cigar; sometimes "Snow is white" is simply an assertion that is true if and only if snow is in fact white; and sometimes a man who says "Get me a one-legged woman, a monkey, and a lumberjack" means exactly that and nothing else. (Ms Dern says, by the way, that the request was complied with, and by 4pm they were actually on the set filming, with a one-legged woman, a monkey, and a lumberjack.)Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at January 20, 2007 11:22 AM