August 23, 2007

Syllepsis Today

Craig Daniel, quoting a friend on AIM:

"i've gotta get my glasses fixed and a haircut but we can definitely do stuff this week"

Steven Taschuk sent in this, from metafilter:

I haven't seen Brazil sinnce [sic] I was a kid and Battle of Algiers at all.

Steven comments:

The question of why this sentence is so jarring (I recklessly assume that you too find it so) struck me as something Language Log might take an interest in.

Certainly -- see here and here and here -- but unless you'd been reading Language Log over the years, how could you tell that we've written about this topic many times? Well, by searching for the term syllepsis, coined by rhetoricians a couple of millennia ago. Providing a handle for text search is a modern bi-product of the old human propensity to invent names for things.

[Update -- Marcus Hum writes:

Speaking of syllepsis, I've been meaning to send in the following example to Language Log for examination for some time now. It comes from the cartoon "Futurama". The speaker is a referee/ring announcer introducing a menacing robot in an Ultimate Robot Fighting bout:

  And in this corner, from and made of Parts Unknown: The Clearcutter!

(The script for the entire episode is here.)

Clearly, this was constructed deliberately for humorous effect like the joke headline previously cited on LL: "Teacher who starred in porn movie a decade ago wants forgiveness, it harder, faster, OH GOD YES".


Posted by Mark Liberman at August 23, 2007 07:41 AM