May 26, 2005

Yoda is Luce reborn

Q Pheevr has figured it out: not only where Yodic comes from, but why it really chaps Anthony Lane's grits.

Has no one considered the possibility that Yoda is channelling the spirit of Henry Luce?

Luce, of course, was the perpetrator of Timespeak, the peculiar language of Time magazine, which Wolcott Gibbs memorably lampooned in a profile of Luce in The New Yorker; Gibbs's "backward ran sentences until reeled the mind" neatly prefigures Lane's "break me a fucking give."

Q also offers a modified version of Geoff Pullum's syntactic analysis of Yodic, and (crucially) a cartoon:

The cartoon, alas, depicts an English class long ago, in a culture far away.

I'm not convinced that Q's syntactic analysis of Yodic as (Pred S Aux) is enough. It doesn't address the ternary swaps, where there is double or nested fronting:

To fight this Lord Sidious, strong enough, you are not.
To question, no time there is.

To trace these patterns back into Time texts of the 1930s, going forward research is.

Posted by Mark Liberman at May 26, 2005 05:35 AM