Thursday, September 15, 2005

A linguistic puzzle

I gave my students the assignment of find Google search strings with one asterisk (like '"the * ran"') that would catch results where all the words in the wild card slot were of the same part of speech. So for example, many students used something like '"the * ran"' for catching nouns. (There is a wrinkle that recently Google changed how they interpret the asterisk, so that now it can match more than one word. Please ignore those results.)

Well, one student came up with the pattern '"he talked *"' for catching adverbs. Now, of course that slot could be filled with an adverb, but always? or even most often? I had expected 'about' or 'with' to show up most, but if you look at the results, in nearly all the results, you do indeed get an adverb in the wildcard slot, and 'about' comes right after. What gives? Why do people so consistently slip an adverb between 'talked' and 'about'?

I'm baffled.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

More photos posted

Originally uploaded by wildmansmee.
I have a few photos from the moto camping trip, and some from the SF trip too. I now return to my non-vacationing life.