If it’s on TV, it must be true…not quite

August 6, 2008

Ted Allen has a new show called “Food Detectives” and it aired for the first time last night.  It’s a relatively entertaining show, although I think there have been some shows like it in the past that answer some of its “mysterious” questions, one being Myth Busters.  Anyway, the point of this post…

One of the myths being tested was that ginger can prevent motion sickness.  The way they go about testing their hypotheses is relatively satisfactory (i.e., a control group and an experimental group), but this one had one huge glitch.

When testing, they properly gave some participants a placebo, which is great, ergo preventing false positives.  When the teacup ride was over (8 minutes, I believe), the group that had taken the ginger pills were not as sick as when they performed the control (where no one had taken anything).  The conclusion: taking ginger before motion-related events does indeed prove helpful and will make you less sick.  Not quite…

What they failed to do was test other spices and/or other perennial plants (I can’t say for certain which ones as I’m not very familiar with its similar species aside from what’s listed in the Wikipedia entry).  All they had done on the show is prove that ginger could potentially help with nausea produced by motion sickness, but it wasn’t conclusive that ginger is indeed the main factor in attenuating the nausea.  In my opinion, this is a huge flaw in the show’s scientific reasoning.  

Similarly, in my thesis, I must prove that complex morphological decomposition does occur and that the effects are not due to semantics (e.g., deduction-deduct), morphologically apparent words (e.g., hideous-hide), or orthographic overlap (e.g., brothel-broth).  I must use such conditions or else my results cannot be conclusive.  I cannot just, say, use morphologically complex words (e.g., stupidity-stupid) and a non-related control (e.g., pepper-friend) and conclude that complex morphological decomposition does indeed occur in early stages of lexical access/processing.  

Not only would this be silly of me and my claim, I would look like a fool.  But I suppose if it’s good enough to be on television, people must believe it.

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Are you for cereal?

August 7, 2006

So when I’m a little bored and restless with myself, I wander into the Urbandictionary. It’s a nifty place to find they new hippest sayings (not that I’m trying to be hip…) defined by the people saying them (I’d hope that’s the case, but I’m sure there are many poseurs posting as well). Anyway, I came across something new (for me) as I was snooping around: for cereal. Yep. That’s it. Not sure about its origin, but it’s interesting, nonetheless, to see how youngsters are processing language these days.

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Guntha…the most up-to-date!

August 4, 2006

Okay, okay. I had to post this because I got a HUGE tip on this word AND its origin. Let me start at the beginning, so this story makes better sense.

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Stop stressing

August 4, 2006

I recently had a conversation with someone on line about a similarly structured sentence,

John and Billy’s dog ran away last night.

Seems easy enough. No problems here. Yep. Whoa….wait. Does that dog belong to John and Billy? Or is it saying that John had a dog and Billy had a dog and they both ran away last night (yes, to shack up in Vegas!). If I had ONLY that context given to me in a survey, written that exact way, I would say the former. However, if there was another example written thusly,

John AND Billy’s dog ran away last night. (CAPS = stress)

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A resolve to “yo mothas a guntha”

August 2, 2006

So I’ve finally contacted people from Myspace and got an answer to the meaning of guntha from a cooperative person. Apparently, it’s simply: fat whore. Now, the only question I am still posing is whether that word (based on the presupposition from it’s definition) can also mean “lazy.”

Yo man, stop being a guntha.
Wuz up, guntha-ass bitch?

Furthermore, I want to ensure that the origin is indeed New Jersey, since this is the only place it’s used in that context based on Myspace searches. I did find a street rapper who is from Brooklyn who uses that word as well, I obviously don’t know his hang-outs, so he might live and hang in NJ. Who knows? But it would be strange for guntha not to have originated in NJ and that be the only place it’s said. If that is the case, why aren’t the youngsters in other areas saying it on Myspace? That would be weird.


A few problems with the Flintstones, et al.

July 30, 2006

Recently, I’ve wondered about certain coinages that are happening or have happened in the past. For example, last night on Fresh Prince, he offered his “black book” of beauties to a professor who was going through a divorce. Will called it his chicktionary (spelling is of course probably off, but who’s actually an authority on its spelling?). But the thought didn’t come to me last night, it’s actually been bugging me for quite some time. Another great reference for such occurrences is Flintstones. Without spending a lot of time searching online for references from the Flintstones, the one example I do remember is from their flick, Viva Rock Vegas. As I was walking downtown several weeks ago I saw a sign on a local store (the exact phrasing I don’t remember) and a word on it was Kidventure. Anyway, you see the point.

Now, I ask how these coinages came to existence? I’m not saying that when the average person walks down the street and hears or reads such words they won’t know what they are in reference to (which is another excellent topic to be discussed at a later date), but how are they put together the way they are? There’s no sense to them, really. Let’s take a closer look.

When we examine the morphology of dictionary we find three morphemes: dic(t) ‘to say’; -ion- ‘state of, result of’; -ary ‘pertaining to; connected with’. Dic(t), here, we can see has absolutely zero relation to gender (male, female, dude, chick, etc.). So all that aside, we can clearly see how you throw those three together to form a word like dictionary, fine. Two question come up for me, though: (i) how is it decided that dic- will be omitted and replaced with chick-, and (ii) what are the rules for such formations?

Well, what else could we try? [A * denotes not ungrammaticality, but rather awkwardness in sound]

*Dudetionary
*femaletionary
*maletionary (this has a strange hint toward missionary)
*penis(t/s)ionary
*vaginationary

At any rate, I think we can begin seeing a pattern of sound in relation to the real word. The prefix must end in a velar plosive [k], which would then be followed by a postalveolar fricative [∫]. But again, it goes beyond looking at what requirements are needed for this transformation to happen. What exactly are the constraints? Why doesn’t it go at the end, e.g. dictionchick? What is it about the two morphemes fused together, -tionary, that causes immediate thought and relation to dictionary? The same is true for the other words I’ve listed: Rock Vegas and kidventure. Where exactly in Las and the letter a do they decide that that would be a good place to replace it with words to fit some real-world description? The instance with the letter a could actually be the prefix ad- ‘to, toward’, but still, what does that seriously have to do with the word adult? I also don’t believe that the ad- in adventure has any reference to ‘adult’ or ‘kid’; it’s just there to form and complete and meaningful word without any “hidden meaning.”

I suppose what I will try is to just throw tionary into a conversation and see what people can construe of it. Language isn’t rocket science, but sometimes it seems like a close descendant of it.


Guntha..

July 28, 2006

Hey, I was wondering if anyone from the New Jersey area knows about the meaning of guntha. All I’ve seen it in was insults, as in yo motha and yo cuzin a guntha.

But if anyone can help out in terms of what exactly it means, I would be greatful.

Thanks.

LM

UPDATE: No, I still haven’t found out the meaning, but if you’ve gotten here from a Google search of guntha, or the like, I’m still the same person who has posted this question in various places. People are probably getting sick over this guntha business. But at least it’s getting out there, and who knows, maybe even into the Urbandictionary!