Linguimericks—Book ६४ SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 1 Contents Reasons Not to Study Linguistics—Part I—Dyspepsia Prater and Cynnie Sizzum

Further Land-Grabbing in the Left Periphery

Tel Monks, Student Emeritus

Modern syn­tacti­cians agree that the Left Periphery is ripe for further development since the territory was opened up by such luminaries as Rizzi (1997).i

This paper states (stakes?) a new claim based on my extensive syntactic field studies in the Funny Pages.

The Washington Post (April 9th, 2019), inter alia, published an episode of the Judge Parkerii strip including the following panel:

I was naturally struck by the question from Sam Driver: “l can do what now?”

This is clearly a wh-question presenting the required substitution of a wh-word for the Object NP; however, the obligatory leftward motion has not occurred. How can we account for this anomaly?

My solution: there is an operating Querky Phraseiii (QkP),iv within the left periphery (of course). After wh-movement, this QkP requires further movement of the Subject NP and the v, naturally leaving the Object NP and the adverbial adjunct in situ.

Another example of the QkP is perhaps to be seen in the utterance “I kid you not”, although in this case the negative marker resists the movement, as befits an adverbial adjunct, while the Object NP escapeswhy? This and other questions remain.

Several of my graduate students are working on these issues, including the question of where in the periphery the Querky Phrase should be inserted. Some of my semioticv friends assert that the frequent stress pattern associated with the first example must place it above ForceP, but modesty prevents me from agreeing. Another excellent correspondent, who asked that his name not be used in this publication,vi suggests that the key syntactic feature hosted by Qk°, the head of the Querky Phrase, has not been identified. This feature is, of course, required to serve as a probe and to trigger verb movement. In light of my University’s new policy, I am not supposed to talk about triggering, and probing is right out.

The Bibliography has been left as an exercise for the reader.

i The diagram shows a proto-Rizzi version of the Left Periphery, before the multiplication of Top Phrase, and Top’ Phrases, which is getting, frankly, out of hand, in this writer’s humble opinion. Nevertheless, I have prepared a truly remarkable full derivation of a simple utterance, which this publication is too small to contain.

ii It is noteworthy that this publication previously published a panel from the Judge Parker strip, almost exactly 10 years ago (A Letter from the Editor-at-Bat Butch McBastard, SpecGram CLVI.2, q.v.) That panel contained the outrageous assertion that “A linguist’s life is very dull.” A conlanger’s life perhaps, but never a linguist’s.

iii There has been much (well, some) discussion about the name of the Qwerky Phrase. Originally, it was known as the ‘Qwerty’ Phrase (in France, the ‘Azerty’ Phrase) named after a favorite password of mine. A colleague misheard this as the ‘Twirky’ Phrase, giving rise to a peculiar gymnastic demonstration. In order to bring the demonstration to a close we agreed to the Querty nomenclature.

iv One of the moderators of this journal mistakenly supposed that I was referencing the Queen’s Knight’s Pawn, which led to a lengthy discussion of the Nimzowitch Defense, which seems of limited relevance.

v It is possible to have semiotic friends, although not for long.

vi Furthermore, since the Government and Binding Incident, I am not allowed within 500 feet of him.

LinguimericksBook ६४
Reasons Not to Study LinguisticsPart IDyspepsia Prater and Cynnie Sizzum
SpecGram Vol CLXXXV, No 1 Contents