November 10, 2003

An / Anne /Ian

I once lived in Somerville, MA, next to a woman who introduced herself to me as "Ian." I thought, how interesting, what was once a man's name has been generalized across gender boundaries. Then she introduced me to her husband Danny, rhyming with peony. Anyhow, I thought about "Ian" when I read this Monty Python skit, which I don't recall having seen on TV:

Chris: Good evening. Tonight: "dinosaurs". I have here, sitting in the studio next to me, an elk.
Oh, I'm sorry! Anne Elk - Mrs Anne Elk
Anne: Miss!
C: Miss Anne Elk, who is an expert on di...
A: N' n' n' n' no! Anne Elk!
C: What?
A: Anne Elk, not Anne Expert!
C: No! No, I was saying that you, Miss Anne Elk, were an , A-N not A-N-N-E, expert...
A: Oh!
C: ...on elks - I'm sorry, on dinosaurs. I'm ...
A: Yes, I certainly am, Chris. How very true. My word yes.

Just for fun, here's another linguistically clever Python fragment:

(Mr. Bertenshaw and his sick wife arrive at a hospital.)

Doctor: Mr. Bertenshaw?
Mr. B: Me, Doctor.
Doctor: No, me doctor, you Mr. Bertenshaw.
Mr. B: My wife, doctor...
Doctor: No, your wife patient.
Sister: Come with me, please.
Mr. B: Me, Sister?
Doctor: No, she Sister, me doctor, you Mr. Bertenshaw.

Posted by Mark Liberman at November 10, 2003 10:44 PM