Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Something to Warm the Cockles of my Heart

This is just so wonderfully delightful that I am just left with a tingling lightness in the soul.

I have barely the remaining force of will required to implore to you to read it in full.


6 comments:

Thersites said...

You understood that article? May us mere mortals have a post on the solution to that old chestnut, the Schlesswig-Holstein question, soon?

Yours in awe...

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

Hello Thersites: long time no speak.

I did indeed understand the article (well, sort of). I have but one little criticism as follows:

Wouldn't it have been easier (and possibly more elegant) to ask "Are you doing enough?" rather than "Is what you're doing enough, or not?", even though that would rob our learned chum of his "auxiliary initial clause with complex subject".

To be honest, it is all very simple:

If we take the phrase "what you are doing" and replace it with "this", the regularity reappears:

What you're doing is enough = This is enough.

Is what you're doing enough? = Is this enough?

Clear?

As for your other question, this is answered easily, with a brief recap of the "Not the nine o'clock news" treatment of the Iran/Iraq war, circa early 80s: each had made gains at the expense of the other, no end to the war in sight. Solution: take a map of the two offending countries and swap the "n" and the "q". Job done - back to the mess in time for tea and medals. Hurrah!

dearieme said...

Jazzmen used to enquire "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?" Is there anything of linguistic interest in that?

Devil's Kitchen said...

Yes; if they "is my baby" the jazzmen should leave off diddling them. If they "isn't my baby" then the jazzmen can do anything filthy that they like, because they is not a "baby" and because they is not a blood relation of the jazzman.

I find that interesting. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Tee hee.

DK

Devil's Kitchen said...

Oh, and P-G,

Wouldn't it have been easier (and possibly more elegant) to ask "Are you doing enough?" rather than "Is what you're doing enough, or not?", even though that would rob our learned chum of his "auxiliary initial clause with complex subject".

Yes, exactly so and that is how it should have been phrased; the principle of Occam's razor (in a basic form meaning the most simple and obvious solution) can, and should, be applied to written English. Which, as everyone knows, is the best language in the world.

In French, you would have to say "Is it that it is that what it is that you are doing is that it is enough so it is look you boyo" or something.

Quod erat demonstrandum, methinks.

The Pedant-General in Ordinary said...

DK and dearieme,

The "is you is?" construction is again very simple. Our chum Geoffrey K. Pullum would say that, within the context of Jazz musicians, the "correctness conditions" (see here for the full horror) allow for a different form of the noted irregular verb "to be" (or not, as the case may be).

Elementary, my dearieme

Toodle Pip!
PG