Friday September 26, 2008

This I Believe #34

...that in David Bowie's song "Dance Magic Dance" from the film Labyrinth, the part of the chorus that goes:

Dance magic, dance
Jump magic, jump

...should instead go:

Pants, magic pants
Junk, magic junk

Note the commas.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, I can only suggest that you probably didn't see the movie on the big screen.  Boy, that was a lot of information about David Bowie.

(For those of you keeping track, yes, this the second "The I Believe" post in a row that's about the lyrics to David Bowie songs.  Will this trend continue?  No man can say...)

I am The Tensor, and I approve this post.
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See also: Areaology, the study of David Bowie's Area:

Posted by: Scott K at Sep 26, 2008 3:27:39 PM

How do you parse the sentence: "The church of man love is such a holy place to be?"

Posted by: Mike T. at Sep 26, 2008 4:29:37 PM

Mike T, allow me to refer you to the online demo of the English Resource Grammar. Among others, it produces this parse (somewhat simplified) for that sentence:

[S [S [NP the church [PP of [NP man love]]] [VP is [NP [DET such a] holy place]] [PP to [VP be]]]

Notice in particular the noun-noun compound man love, the multiword determiner such a, and the high attachment of the infinitival phrase to be (which the ERG calls a prepositional phrase, interestingly). The semantic interpretation, translated from Minimal Recursion Semantics, could be roughly glossed as:

"there is a church, the church is of man-love, and the church is such-a holy place, and the whole sentential event is in order to be"

I'm not sure that's quite the right reading of the infinitival phrase, though. I think that (such|so) ... (to|for) V might be a complex constructional idiom that requires its own treatment, and none of the parses produced by the ERG seem to reflect this.

Posted by: The Tensor at Sep 26, 2008 7:01:56 PM

I think there's a bit of magic sock in there. Or an armadillo, as Spinal Tap might say.

Mike T., I think it's fine as is. You can put a hyphen between man and love if you wish, but it's not necessary.

Posted by: tim maguire at Sep 30, 2008 12:44:49 PM

Posted by: Viola at Sep 30, 2008 10:07:43 PM

What? Oh heavens, no! You can't skip the comma in "the Church of Man, love, is such a holy place to be" (this secular humanist church, my dear, is such a holy place to be) All the deliciousness of the double meaning gets blanched out by so much verbal salt!

Posted by: illegible at Nov 8, 2008 10:02:54 AM

LOL! You would have made one great medical transcriptionist--we are all anal about grammar, punctuation, and spelling, among other things. From as far back as I can remember, I have always loved reading and collecting words like some people collect stamps or baseball cards. As my vocabulary grew, then I learned that I also loved to write, to paint a verbal picture. The written word--we need more of it, we need to spend more time in thoughtful process.

Posted by: medical transcription punctuation at Nov 22, 2008 2:56:45 AM

That movie really scared the crap out of me. We watched it as a class when I was in 6th grade, and I felt like I should be laughing but I was too scared.

Posted by: Medical Transcription at Feb 25, 2009 8:37:33 AM