Syntax (104)

Syntax: This week it’s shake-up the order of sentences that Howard Shepherd and Dave Shepherd do, as explore the topic of syntax they shall.

Thanks to Emma H. and Mary T. for PayPal donations (2:07)

Syntax: not just word order, but sentence structure in general. Which came first, the thing or the act? (2:33)

Music bumper from “Finger Food” by the Shook-Russo Quartet (11:27)

Rhetorical uses of syntax (14:14)

Song: “Upside-Down” by Yo La Tengo (20:07)

Rude Word of the Week: “flip-flopper” (24:04)

Music bumper from “Tell Me a Bedtime Story” by the Jay Lawrence Trio. (27:37)

Syntactical variations from language to language (28:42)

Music courtesy of the Ioda Promonet

Theme music by Kick the Cat

time: 34:49

size: 31.9 Mb

rating: G (We quote from a poem about Santa Claus.)

Upside-DownYo La Tengo
“Upside-Down” (mp3)
from “Upside-Down”

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Shook-Russo Quartet Featuring Greg GisbertThe Shook-Russo Quartet
“Finger Food” (mp3)
from “Shook-Russo Quartet Featuring Greg Gisbert”
(Summit Records)

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Thermal StrutJay Lawrence Trio
“Tell Me a Bedtime Story” (mp3)
from “Thermal Strut”
(OA2 Records)

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8 thoughts on “Syntax (104)

  1. Hi,

    Just listened to the podcast and I have to take issue with the statement that the correctly conjugated verb is the most important part of the sentence. It’s not. While it is important that the verb is the right verb, correct conjugation is not.

    You spoke of German, so compare the following examples:
    Ich bin gestern nach Köln gefahren. I go Cologne yesterday.

    Absolutely clear, despite the awful English.

    Ich brauche Ihren Bericht bis Freitag. I need your report until Friday.

    That says a completely different thing to what was intended, although it is grammatically correct (and is something I hear practically every day).

    “Report of you by Friday need I” communicates the correct message, despite being utterly awful English.

    Grammar is only crucially important as far as it affects correct understanding of the message. Beyond that, it takes a back seat to actual communication.

    That’s what language is for, and correct understanding of the intended message is what matters, not grammatical correctness, or, take note Germans, crafting the most elaborate sentences possible.

    Banging on about correct grammar is only relevant in an academic context where minimising red marks on the page is very important. In real life, it’s not. What matters when you actually use a language is vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary.

    It doesn’t matter in the slightest if you can reel off every the Imperfekt and Konjunktiv 2 of every verb. What matters, is knowing that ‘ja’ actually means ‘no’ when replying to negative questions.

  2. Bah! Just realised my penultimate sentence was a bit rubbish:
    “It doesn’t matter in the slightest if you can reel off every the Imperfekt and Konjunktiv 2 of every verb.”

    Strike the first “every”. I guess, in a way, it underlines my point, as it’s still understandable. Embarrassing, nevertheless.

  3. Me again.

    I guess I should point out to non-German-speakers that German does not differentiate between “until Friday” and “by Friday”: both are “bis Freitag” and context is essential to understand what is meant. Germans usually use “until” in English, even when they mean “by”.

    Before anyone says, “how stupid”, it should be remembered that English only has the one word “free”, while many other languages differentiate between “free” as in “at no cost” and “free” as in “without restriction”. For this reason, open source developers often use the French word “libre” (meaning “free” as in “free speech”, compared to “gratuit” meaning “free” as in “free parking”) to differentiate their software from closed-source software provided at no cost (normally called “freeware”).

  4. The Word Nerds and Yo La Tengo in one file, so much concentrated joy *sniff sniff*

  5. Your credibility as wordsmiths is not helped by committing the now all-too-common grammatical gaffe of wrongly hyphenating a verb-preposition phrase — ie, (to) shake up — thereby transforming it into a compound noun — ie, (a) shake-up. It’s like writing, “Let’s go-to the store.” Why DID you hyphenate it?

  6. Right you are about that hyphenation error.

    Yes, I do know the rule for hyphenating compound nouns. However, it took me about 15 minutes to even figure out how to word that introductory phrase in a way that would turn the word order inside-out (which is, I believe, a correct hyphenation). So that’s why I erroneously hyphenated that word.

    I don’t usually speak that way, so my sense of the rules did not kick in as I was writing it.

    I will leave my error in since we are referring to it in these comments.

    Incidentally, it is not our credibility as wordsmiths that should be called into question, but rather mine. I am solely responsible for typing and publishing these notes.

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