April 04, 2007

Syntax on the teeth and tongue

Found poetry from Nottingham, evoking a new kind of synesthesia:

"It's used as a punctuating term, the answer to everything," says Ralph Surman, a deputy head teacher at a primary school in Nottingham and a member of a government task force on school behaviour. "It's like a toddler saying 'no'. They don't mean 'no' but say it to everything because it feels nice. The syntax feels nice on the teeth and the tongue."

He's talking about "whatever", and according to the BBC article that this came from, it's all Vicky Pollard's fault. But can we blame her for today's teachers' innovative ideas about what "syntax" means?

Posted by Mark Liberman at April 4, 2007 10:54 AM