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February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hello to all my readers! Whether you're celebrating a romantic relationship, a friendship, or your own independence, I hope you have a lovely Valentine's Day. Here's a meme I made for my alma mater's linguistics club back when the first Fifty Shades movie was coming out:

"What is this filth you've published here?" Fun fact - all of these terms are totally real and used in syntax all the time! Domination is one of the most basic relationships in syntax. Binding is another centrally important one, and it was especially important in the 70s when "government and binding" theory was all the rage. I think every intro to syntax student has sort of chuckled at how these terms sound kinky today. They weren't exactly making movies like Fifty Shades back in those days, so it's not like they were watching out for the optics.

Syntax has other terminology problems to worry about. For example: a "verb phrase" is abbreviated as "VP." But at some point, someone wanted to have something else that started with "v" to have a phrase. The solution was to make the "v" lowercase and call it... "little v." Another interesting terminology choice is "probe," which has a specialized meaning in syntax but is also used in papers to talk about, well, probing for something. Authors sometimes have to clarify what type of "probe" they mean.

If this all sounds like pretty poor naming, that's because it is. I'll leave you with another image made for my old linguistics club. Remember to always practice safe syntax!

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