Saturday, August 16, 2008

A paper I wish I'd written

Shai Cohen brought this law review article to my attention. It's got so many things you want to see in a law article: linguistics, employment discrimination, eight-way ambiguities, upbraiding of judges for being insufficiently attentive to the nuances of language... well, it would have had upbraiding had I written it. Evidently the article's author, Jill C. Anderson, is less petty and more generous toward judges than I.

If I may brag, in my grad school days I wrote a paper in which I argued that the domain of events is, like the domain of entities is sometimes taken to be, divided along an individual/group axis as well as a singular/plural axis, with the upshot that sentences like Adin hit three boys five times is something like 13-ways ambiguous [aside to semanticists: I used a Landmanian analysis and took the theta-role functions to apply to group events, identifying individual events as the phases found in the literature on pluractionality]. I also managed to get an audience of linguists to see each of the thirteen or so distinct meanings. So: my contrived sentence is more ways ambiguous than Congress's carefully crafted one. Nyah!

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