least expected sentence in a linguistics text


I can’t read this out loud without laughing:

Judy’s tight laugh seemed to match her tight jeans, her speed-thin body, her dark eye liner, and her tense front vowels.

I read it to John (snicker, snicker), and he responded: “What is that? Linguistics porn?”

No, it’s actually from my assigned reading for my class. It’s from a book called Linguistc Variation as Social Practice: The Linguistic Construction of Identity at Belten High, by Penelope Eckert (2000). The line in question is the first line of the main text. (See?)

But hey, porn for linguists. Maybe that’s a writing career I could look into…

She lay back in ecstasy, emitting a series of non-linguistic speech events, first a pharyngeal with a low front vowel, then moving up towards a uvular, followed by a long, drawn-out tense back rounded vowel. [ʕa ʁuuu:] she vocalized. “You just did what?” she asked, her final voiceless alveolar plosive fully released and strongly aspirated, so excited she hadn’t realized she’d left her wh-word in situ…

4 thoughts on “least expected sentence in a linguistics text

  1. Oh! I’m reading Chien and Wexler (1990) for a syntax term paper on the acquisition of binding theory and look at the examples I found:

    1) Kitty says that Melody’s mother touches herself.

    and further on…

    2) Kitty says that Melody’s mother touches her.

    I sure hope that Kitty’s parents got her some help.

  2. himbly-
    Oh, my! Very funny. Well, I guess they’ve stopped with the beating of donkeys, but I’m not sure they’ve moved into less “touchy” areas. Someone should start a campaign to get linguists to use some new transitive verbs.

    Jaŋari-
    Goodness me-an engma right there in your user name.
    I’m glad that you enjoyed it (disturbingly or not). Perhaps there is a market for me to explore…

    Thanks to you both for stopping by!

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