Category: Syntax

I’ll never get over you getting over me

12 Jul 2008 In: Phonology, Syntax

Back then when I was in Form 3 (Grade 9), I came across this song called “I’ll never get over you getting over me“ from the American group Exposé. I was stuck at the title of the song. No matter how many times I looked at it, I just could not understand what it means. Years later, when I listen to this song again now, I know what went wrong.

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Impossible is nothing!

25 Jun 2008 In: Pragmatics, Semantics, Syntax
Impossible is nothing

“Able was I ere I saw Elba.” – Napolean

Poetic as it may sound, “able was I ere” is not a sentence we may normally use, even if we forgive the archaism of the expression. When you introduce yourself to someone, it is customary to say ”My name is Thomas” rather than “Thomas is my name”. Grammatically speaking, there is nothing in particular that forbids you to say that. The verb ‘to be’ is a so-called copular verb, which means that it acts like an equal sign, signifying that the two nouns or adjectives surrounding it are equal (or at least that is the simplistic view). For an equal sign, then, which one of the two arguments comes first should not be a matter of concern, because they are, after all, equal. But we know that is not true.

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Never have I noticed this!

3 Jun 2008 In: Syntax, Typology

English is a Germanic language, it shares a common ancestor with languages like German, Dutch, Norwegian, Swedish and Icelandic. However, despite this Germanic origin, English has been heavily influenced by two other languages, namely Latin and French, due to the ruling of England by the Romans in the first century and by the Normans, who spoke a dialect of French, in the 11th. It is estimated that about 70% of all English words ultimately have their roots from Latin or French (which is itself a descendant of Latin). As a result, Present Day English (PDE) is vastly different from other Germanic languages such as German.

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A natural centrifuge in English

30 May 2008 In: Syntax

A centrifuge is a machine that makes use of the centrifugal force to separate the different substances in a mixture. After the process, the lighter substances float on the top, whereas the heavier substances sink to the bottom. Surprisingly, a similar process also happens in English.

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