yo motha’s a guntha…?

July 12, 2006

i still can’t find anything on that quote. i know it’s an insult, but what does it mean?

yo motha’s a guntha
i’ll beat her and punch her
leave her bleeding and punctured
nigga, i’ll take yo new born daughter and PUNT her!

anyone with ideas on this one?

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i still love this one…thanks, language log

July 12, 2006

this post is exclusively for semanticists. if you are not a semanticist, do not try to solve the problem below. do not even read it.

consider the following sentence:

All someone needs to do now is snap a few pictures.

using a suitable logical language with a suitable signature (say which one you are assuming), provide a full semantic representation for the sentence, taking care to get the truth conditions right, and in particular, making sure you assign the correct scopes to (i) the universal quantifier “all”, (ii) the existential quantifier “some(one)”, (iii) the necessitative modal operator “needs”, and (iv) the paucal quantifier “a few”.

by the way, there is nothing special about the sort of phrase involved here, and certainly nothing deviant about it. you are not being asked to comment on any error or strangeness. this is straightforward english.

i’m still working on it…..not sure what the outcome will be or if there will even be one.


(a)telicity and number

July 12, 2006

i still seem to have a problem with events in regard to telicity/atelicity. if an event is bounded, an entity is bounded if it is conceptualized as having a clear boundary in time and/or space, then the event is labeled telic. if the event is unbounded and does not have a solid endpoint, then it is labeled atelic. fine, it’s not the definition i’m having problems with.

the problem arises when certain sentences are used to express with theory. for example:

  1. John built the house in a week/*for a week.
  2. John built houses *in a week/for a week.

(*) indicates that the sentence is ungrammatical–this term ungrammatical can be tricky because it often times refers to the sentence as not possessing the meaning that it is intended to possess. anyway, many theories have come forth indicating that you will usually find that telic events have a definite determiner, while atelic events have an indefinite. fine again. but this is where is starts to get shady for me.

if you read (1-2), you will notice that (2)’s in a week can definitely be grammatical. could i hear someone saying *john built houses in a week? you bet. could you? the only problem i see with that sentence is that it doesn’t specify a number of houses that john built, therefore deeming it ungrammatical. but in order for an event to be bounded, are we now needing number to play a role in its determination? you can also see the same problem (though this one is more problematic than 2) in (1)’s *john built the house for a week. this could possibly be said, but as i’ve stated, it’s a bit more problematic than (2). (1) has the meaning that the house is in the process of being built, but is not yet done. (2) has the meaning that the houses were indeed completed but we are unaware as to the number of houses built in that week’s timeframe.

so number correlates with (a)telicity. so then does that make number the main determiner in events, whether bounded or unbounded?