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Crazy-yet-legal constructs (was: Re: LIFO languages (was Re: "Theory informs practice" - OK?))

From:Simon Richard Clarkstone <simon.clarkstone@...>
Date:Sunday, November 23, 2008, 16:18
Yahya Abdal-Aziz wrote:
> On Sun, 16 Nov 2008, Jörg Rhiemeier wrote: >>> Quoting Lars Finsen: >>> Does anyone ever use those registers of German in real-time >>> conversation, however? >> Not much at least. Complicated nested sentences are a matter of >> written language almost exclusively, and spoken German avoids >> such hairy constructions. Nobody ever *speaks* sentences like: >> >> Wer denjenigen, der den Wegweiser, der an der Brücke, die über >> den Bach, der von Ahausen nach Bettelheim fließt, führt, steht, >> umgeworfen hat, anzeigt, erhält 500 Mark Belohnung. > > It's the kind of thing one might almost expect to be written (in very > small writing) on the signpost itself ... > > In English, approximately: > Whosoever reports whomever has upset the signpost, which > stands at the bridge, which leads over the brook which flows > from Ahausen to Bettelheim, [shall] receive a reward of 500 DM. > > And it _exactly_ the kind of thing my peers me, their professors > in Germany when lectures giving, do would, told - only very much > tamer, is. Indeed, the best "performances" by these Old Masters > of the stacked verb, their audiences on the edges of their seats, > in awful suspense for upwards of *half an hour* whilst for the final > cascade of verbs, which finally of the many hundreds of words > that them preceded, sense make would, waiting, riveted, sitting, > have would. That, not a bad feat for a university lecturer, whose > students else, just for the opportunity at the end of the lecture to > leave, waiting, to doze off be likely would, is! The relief of that last > word hearing and all the pieces together slotting, just imagine ... > > Maybe they did it to strengthen their students' memories? Or to > show off? Or (like the programmer in the old joke) "just because > they could"? > > Oh, all right, I'll cop it sweet - I *was* that programmer.
The same thing can be done with English infixing. However, this also reminds me of the story of two men (Smith and Jones) who had disagreed (after coming out of an exam) on whether "had had" or "had" was the correct expression of tense in a certain answer. Smith while Jones had had had had had had had had had had been the correct answer. Sorry, I'll repeat that with punctuation: Smith, while Jones had had "had had", had had "had"; "had had" had been the correct answer. ;-) -- src/


Matthew Turnbull <ave.jor@...>