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View Diary: Origins of English: Left and Right (16 comments)

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  •  Thanks for bringing up Lakoff (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Garrett, Aunt Pat, NonnyO

    and the idea of spatial/directional metaphors in language. This is a topic that needs to be explored more fully.

    •  Intriguing that use of the word "left" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, Aunt Pat

      is at the heart of the story:

      Chomsky’s theory assumed that the structure of language is “autonomous” — independent of meaning and communication. In 1963, George stumbled upon the first of hundreds of counterexamples. Working on the grammar of baseball, George looked at the sentence “Yaztremski doubled to left.” It contains a directional adverb “to left.” In autonomous syntax, directional adverbs should modify verbs of motion and the grammar of the sentence should include the moving entity. But “double” is not a verb of motion, and the ball, whose motion is modified by “to left” is not in the sentence at all. Instead, the meaning of the verb “double” includes a ball moving “to left.” It is the meaning, not the grammar, that determines the occurrence of “to left.”

      George Lakoff's Academic Biograpy page

    •  In medicine, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, PrahaPartizan

      right is always the patient's right, even though it is on the left looking at it.  CT scans are with the right side of the body on the left, e.g., the liver is on the left of the image.

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