invented usage and friends

first, i want to give a shout out to Jonathan and Lauren, who have been visiting San Francisco for a Linguistic Society of America conference this weekend. it's nice to be in the linguistics loop a bit, even if i'm not in the linguistics world.

Lauren works for a lab in Boston labeling noun phrases for a computer language-recognition project that sounds really interesting. (she's also the only current follower of invented usage!) Jonathan is in a joint PhD program at UCSD and San Diego state, where he specializes in sign language. He presented his first year paper at the conference this weekend. (On the schedule under 'Speech Planning and Signed Language Phonology')

second, Dave over at tubthump.blogspot.com has written about one of those everyday grammar foibles that we concern ourselves with here at invented usage:
I just saw a poster for Valkyrie, whose tagline is: "Many saw evil. They dared to stop it." I assume that the writers are using the common construction that typically goes "Many people talk about [some problem], but these people did something about it." The "but" and the emphasis on "these people" (or just "they") are critical because without them it's not obvious that the subject of the second clause is not the same as that of the first. Without this emphasis, one could read that the people who talked about the problem are also doing something about it, but the speaker is actually trying to contrast the two groups' responses. Moreover, I'd argue that this is the more common (and grammatically correct) reading.
Check out his full post here.

last, and probably least, i apologize for my long absence! i'm running a firefighter blog, The Kitchen Table, as part of my job now, which makes it hard to get motivated to blog when i get home. It's going pretty well and is worth a look-see!