Tuesday November 14, 2006

All Seven?

Pop quiz, hotshot.  Find the glaring error in the publisher's description of Mark Baker's Lexical Categories: Verbs, Nouns and Adjectives:

Mark C. Baker investigates the fundamental nature of nouns, verbs, and adjectives. He claims that the various superficial differences found in particular languages have a single underlying source which can be used to provide better definitions of these "parts of speech". The new definitions are supported by data from languages from every continent. Baker's book argues for a formal, syntax-oriented, and universal approach to the parts of speech, as opposed to the functionalist, semantic, and relativist approaches that have dominated the subject.

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So, what language is from Antarctica? (Given the population, I'm tempted to say "C++".)

Posted by: Doug Sundseth at Nov 14, 2006 8:53:23 AM

What, you haven't heard of Antarctic Vernacular English?

Posted by: Bridget at Nov 14, 2006 9:17:29 AM

Maybe the writer is one of those people who think there are five continents. I've never quite figured out what the five are, but I assume Antarctica is excluded. Maybe America is one continent, or maybe Eurasia is.

Posted by: KCinDC at Nov 14, 2006 9:54:14 AM

Nonsense! Everybody knows that Antartica is home to more native speakers of Penguin than any other place in the world.

Posted by: includedmiddle at Nov 14, 2006 10:19:13 AM

Classic. And I'd gotten used to this being merely a language blog, not a source of amusement!

Posted by: tehgeekmeister at Nov 14, 2006 1:15:09 PM

Antarctica is fascinating for historical linguists because of all the frozen forms.

Posted by: Michael at Nov 14, 2006 5:28:47 PM

But beware, if you aren't careful you'll fall into a deep cleft and break your neck.

Posted by: Cornelius Puschmann at Nov 15, 2006 12:02:14 AM

The Five Continents are Antartica, Africa, America, Eurasia, Australia (or, alternatively, Oceania) - or so I was taught. Still doesn't help the language ref!

Posted by: The Ridger at Nov 15, 2006 8:11:05 AM

Hmm, that still doesn't help me with the beer I saw that claimed to be "brewed on all five continents", since I doubt Antarctica was included. Google hasn't helped, though.

Posted by: KCinDC at Nov 15, 2006 8:51:29 AM

Ahem. I believe that considerable detail on the languages of Antarctica has already been presented by Mr Lovecraft. Although, given the way he carries on about their eldritch and insanity-inducing nature, I am very skeptical of the idea that they have identifiable parts of speech that fit neatly into a universalist approach encompassing the languages spoken by puny humans, which generally do not drive investigators mad (except Finnish).

Posted by: Matt at Nov 15, 2006 5:44:49 PM


Posted by: includedmiddle at Nov 15, 2006 7:07:59 PM

The Seven: Antarctica, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia

Posted by: Pious Agnostic at Nov 18, 2006 4:25:42 AM

I count eight: Antarctica, Africa, Eurasia, Arabia, Australindia, North America, South America, and Central America.

Posted by: Carrots at Nov 18, 2006 11:07:27 PM

You guys both left out Mu and Atlantis. Just because they're sunken doesn't mean they're not continents.

Posted by: includedmiddle at Nov 18, 2006 11:43:03 PM

Seen recently on a bumper sticker in my neighborhood: "REUNITE GONDWANALAND"

Posted by: Russell Borogove at Nov 20, 2006 4:10:43 PM

Reducing the world's overall shoreline would be an excellent hedge against global warming.

Posted by: includedmiddle at Nov 21, 2006 8:53:57 AM