tirsdag 30. juni 2009

En frustrerende sommer.

TV-reklamen som går for Rema 1000 for tiden legger opp til en ganske så frustrerende sommer for publikum. De har visstnok så gode tilbud og lave priser på grillmat "at du nesten kan grille hver dag i sommer". Det blir en slitsom sommer; hver dag får vi akkurat nesten grillet... Vi får spe på med kalde pils.

mandag 22. juni 2009


Denne gangen er det en feil jeg har hørt på norsk som irriterer meg. Det slår meg stadig hvor forseggjort enkelte reklamer er på alle områder utenom språklig. Jeg har ennå til gode å høre en reklametekst jeg synes er ordentlig god. Feilen jeg skal skrive om her har jeg hørt flere ganger i ulike reklamer. Den siste gangen jeg hørte den var nå nettopp, i en reklame for Colgate tannkrem. Om denne tannkremen sier de "Ingen annen tannkrem gjør mer." For meg skurrer dette umiddelbart. Det de mener å si er en av to ting: enten "Ingen tannkrem gjør mer", eller "Ingen annen tannkrem gjør like mye". "Ingen ANNEN tannkrem gjør MER" er ulogisk, som man ser hvis man kommer med noen oppfølgingsspørsmål: "Ingen annen enn hvilken?" "-Colgate" "Gjør mer enn hvilken?" " -Colgate". Altså gjør Colgate mer enn Colgate selv.

Det finnes en annen reklame også, som viser hvor lite energi disse rekamemakerne bruker på språket. Reklamen er for en eller annen damebarberhøvel, kanskje det var Venus. Uansett er det tydelig at de bare har oversatt direkte fra engelsk, for de sier: "Introduserer Venus Femashave etc.." På engelsk er teksen sikkert: "Introducing Venus... Osv." På norsk kan man ikke ha et finitt verb i setningen uten subjekt. De eneste tilfellene der det er tillatt fysisk å utelate subjektet, er i uformell "brevstil" hvor det da er entydig at subjektet er 1. person entall ("jeg"): "Har vært på stranden og badet i dag. Så mange fine fisker." Den reklamen gir inntrykk av at de som laget den bare ikke gidder. Og jeg sitter og blir sur i sofaen.

fredag 19. juni 2009

The genitive

This entry is also the result of something I heard on TV the other day. I am actually unsure about the correct use of the phenomenon in question, but my guess is that what I heard cannot be correct.

The phenomenon I am referring to is possession expressed by way of the genitive, where "the ones who possess" are two or more elements, coordinated by "and" (or by some other means). In other words, if you and Mary own a horse, and you have to express this by way of the genitive, how would you go about it?; "Have you seen Mary's and my horse"? Is it then clear that we are talking about one and the same horse, or could it be two different horses? I would claim that in this example, the two elements coordinated by "and" are treated formally as separate elements, and thus the nucleus ("horse") of the NP has two determinatives. Or not? At first glance, it seems impossible to treat the coordinated expression formally as a single whole, adding the genitive only to the final word, as this would yield a completely different reading: "Have you seen Mary and my horse"? Now you are looking for both Mary and your horse.

However, I did hear this kind of expression treated as a single whole on TV the other day, but it was done differently than the last example provided here. The person in question, a native American English speaker (no, not a native american), talked about "Melissa and I's relationship". Is this not strange? I am very unsure of this phenomenon. Any opinions?

torsdag 18. juni 2009

onsdag 17. juni 2009

This annoys me.

Ideally, a linguist should find certain "untraditional" usage of language interesting or fascinating, and marvel at the ever-changing nature of language. Certain constructions, however, do nothing but annoy me.
These are all contructions I have observed in American English, and I don't know whether they also occur in British English. Maybe someone could enlighten us?

One phenomenon that is particularly irritating is the exaggerated use of the modal auxiliary "would" in conditional sentences. More specifically, it is the use of this auxiliary in BOTH parts of the conditional, instead of only in the apodosis.
A conditional consist of two parts; the protasis, which expresses the condition, and the apodosis, which expresses the consequence: "If I had money (protasis), I would buy a car (apodosis)." In the last few years, however, I constantly hear *"If I would have money, I would buy a car". This kind of "error" does not strike me as innovative or interesting, rather, it reveals a lack of reflection on the part of the speaker about what he or she is saying, and only contributes to eradicating the subtleties of the language.

The second phenomenon that makes me cringe is the hyper-correction that makes some people use the subjective form of the first person singular pronoun ("I") in objective position or after prepositions (where the objective form "me" is usually required) when it is coordinated with another element. I will explain.

A typical "mistake" made by many speakers is that, instead of saying "John and I are going to the movies", they would say *"John and me are going to the movies", thus using the objective form "me" in subject position when it is coordinated with another element (in this case "John"). The speakers have currently been made aware of this mistake to such an extent that many now use the subjective form "I", even in cases where "me" is required; *"My mother saw John and I", ("I" as part of the direct object), or *"Her uncle smirked at John and I", ("I" after preposition). What is particularly annoying about this phenomenon is that it seems that people think that they are especially eloquent when they do this.

The third vexing phenomenon is the addition of an extra indeterminate article ("a", "an") when the word "another" is expanded to "a whole other". The "correct" use would be to say: "This is a whole other issue", but I have heard, time and time again: "This is a whole n'other issue." I guess that, the fact that "another" is written as one word makes people ignore that the first part of it, "an", is actually an article.

I am aware that these phenomena possibly will enter the language as accepted variants, and that in some years no one will be aware of the fact that at some point the constructions were different, and the people that wasted time and energy getting annoyed over it will seem like funny clowns. However, I am only human. I can't help it.

tirsdag 9. juni 2009

Horse and carriage.

I watched the Oprah Winfrey show today (yes, I did, so shoot me. ;)), and I noticed an interesting (and perhaps well-known) phenomenon, namely how an expression such as "horse and carriage" not only semantically, but also formally, is treated as one single element. Oprah was talking about a 109 year old woman and said that she lived "in a time when there were still horse and carriages." My point is that she only pluralized the word "carriage". Had she pluralized "horse" as well, and said that "she lived in a time when there were still horses and carriages", she would have seemed to presuppose that we don't have horses anymore. In other words, she would no longer be referring to the expression "horse and carriage", but to horses on the one hand, and carriages on the other. I guess that this is one example that supports the view of certain linguists that go as far as maintaining that it rarely makes sense to scrutinize language on a word-level, that in expressions such as this one, each individual word has no meaning of its own, only the expression as a whole. I disagree with this view. I still think that the individual words that make up an expression contribute to its overall sense. Any opinions? And, can you think of more examples such as this one?

fredag 5. juni 2009


Ok, so my first blog, not surprisingly, deals with a linguistic phenomenon. As my friends know, I am an avid viewer of television :P, and many of the programs I watch are in american English. I have noticed several times lately that some Americans seem not to distinguish between the word "when" and the word "whenever". This morning I was watching Animal Planet. It was about a dog that had suffered gross neglect and was in a poor state when they found her. She was given treatment and fostered by a kind man who, nevertheless, does not seem to master the distinction "when/whenever". This is what he said about the dog in question: "She looks a hundred percent better than she did whenever I first got her". Maybe I wouldn't have thought much of it if I hadn't heard this mistake many, many times before. Or is it a mistake? Has anybody else noticed this? To what would you attribute this phenomenon? And, how would you describe the semantic distinction (the distinction in meaning) between "when" and "whenever"?