October 01, 2008

smashing the vase

From an article in the Times on Sarah Palin's debate performance when she ran for office in Alaska:
But just as she does now, Ms. Palin often spoke in generalities and showed scant aptitude for developing arguments beyond a talking point or two. Her sentences were distinguished by their repetition of words, by the use of the phrase “here in Alaska” and for gaps. On paper, her sentences would have been difficult to diagram.
I'm sure the author of the article didn't have Chomskyan diagrams in mind. But any syntax instructor will agree that ungrammatical sentences are harder to diagram than grammatical ones (like the one below). In theory, they should also be harder to produce...

Update: For an attempt to diagram Palin's sentences in traditional Reed/Kellogg style, see this article on Slate.com

No comments: