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False etymologies are fun!

  1. Mar 5, 2006 #1


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    I was just thinking about how to describe two relations in syntactic trees similar to this one:


    And I noticed something funny: You have two dimensions and their corresponding pairs of directions, left/right and up/down, and you can use these to describe relations on points, or whatever, in the plane. For left/right, it's is left of and is right of, e.g., in the diagram above, the node tried is left of the node to. But for up/down, instead of is up of and is down of, we use is above and is below, e.g., tried is above to. The sharp ones among you might have noticed that up of /ʌp ʌv/ sounds extremely similar to above /əbʌv/. All you need to do to change up of to above is voice /p/ and switch the stress to of, both of which do happen naturally under some conditions, and doing one might even cause the other to happen. I seriously doubt that's what happened, but it's cool, no? :biggrin: Anyone else ever noticed similar coincidences?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 6, 2006 #2
  4. Mar 6, 2006 #3
  5. Mar 6, 2006 #4


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    There are of course rules determining what 'shapes' the trees can have. You could make a mobile whose shape is 'grammatical' when viewed from only some vantage points... I bet you could at least come up with an interesting title for it. Hah, maybe even make the mobile's title the structure that the tree is representing! :biggrin:

    Ooh, ooh! Or control its movements with a machine (like a clock motor thing) so that its grammaticality is periodic. Ooh, ooh! And you could put words in and make it a structurally ambiguous phrase and have its different interpretations show up at different times... they would be tied into the times at which they show up, of course. Hah. Good times.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2006
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