December 08, 2007

Due to <NounPhrase> and that <Sentence>

Here's one for Arnold Zwicky's collection of Coordination of Unlikes, from Frank Cho's comic strip Liberty Meadows for 12/7/2007.

I don't follow the strip closely enough to get the joke -- and maybe more context wouldn't help -- but I believe that the content of this message is not to be taken literally. If anyone censored Cho, it was Cho himself.

As for the form of the message, I don't have any trouble with most of Arnold's C. of U. examples, but this one is definitely in WTF grammar territory. The only other examples that I've been able to find of NP and that S coordination are in quasi-incoherent passages like this one:

Industries running primarily on coal-driven energy is bad yet unavoidable in the meantime due to the drought and that water-turbine energy simply isn't all too grand in the scheme (due to drought and that water-turbines alone simply can't generate the energy Australia uses).

The rest of Friday's Liberty Meadows is here:

[Update -- Bruce Webster explains:

Actually, the joke with the Liberty Meadows strip is that there are plenty of Liberty Meadows strips that newspapers have refused to run -- so many that Cho has a website dedicated to just those strips:

If you're wondering why some of these strips were dropped -- well, so do the rest of us ("ovarian cyst"?). But you can usually figure out what the likely source of objection was.


[Several readers have observed that the coordination changes its nature if "the fact" is inserted in an appropriate place. Exactly -- then it would be simply a coordination of noun phases.]

[And Craig Russell wrote to suggest that it might all be Strunk & White's fault:

Did any of these readers mention that Strunk & White have a whole subsection, under the classic Omit Needless Words slogan, about "the fact that":

"'The fact that' is an especially debilitating expression. It should be revised out of every sentence in which it occurs."

That might be it! ]

Posted by Mark Liberman at December 8, 2007 10:39 AM