Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Footnotes will inherit the earth*

As an undergraduate studying linguistics, I always had a moment of blank-mind terror whenever certain technical terms came up. They weren't even ones that I didn't understand, and I could explain them well enough if I had to -- they just caused me to freeze for some inexplicable reason.

When I stopped doing hardcore generative syntax**, (or rather, I like to think of myself as having taken a short hiatus from it), I convinced myself that I would never have to worry about these particular terms again. After all, it wasn't as though a random stranger would come up to me one day in the pub while I was minding my own business and ask me to explain the difference between raising verbs and control verbs, now, was it?

Today a random stranger* came up to me in the pub while I was minding my own business and asked me to explain the difference between raising verbs and control verbs.

And I did it. On the back of a beer mat, without even resorting to tree diagrams.

I'm so proud of myself.

And let this be a moral to students who believe that what they are learning has no use in the real world.

* A title which has absolutely nothing to do with the main topic of this post, but hey, when has that ever stopped a blogger in full stride?

** Which would be a most excellent name for a rock band.

I really shouldn't be allowed to blog under the influence.

Hiatus. A word I have always mysteriously confused with hernia. Like shingles. Which I always confuse with piles, leading to terrible offence once when I got the giggles upon a friend telling me his grandfather was suffering from shingles.

* Well, okay, a not entirely random stranger, since I've seen them around the department now and then. But let's not let that spoil a perfectly good story. Okay?


turtlebella said...

Generative syntax is a GREAT name for a band. Heavy metal rock, I think.

StyleyGeek said...

I was even thinking "Hardcore Generative Syntax".

Lydia said...

I love footnotes too! I always have little conversational ones like these in the rough drafts of my papers--I wish I could keep them in!

StyleyGeek said...

Maybe you should :) I know that I at least like nothing better than coming across something in an academic paper that tells me the author was maybe *shock horror* enjoying him/herself when writing it.