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Monday, March 7, 2011

Banana Flies Like an Apple : Invitation for Linguistics

I'll chat over linguistics--one of my majors at uni.

Hopefully, none of linguists nor postgraduate students reads this post?! Linguistics has these areas.
Phonology = Sounds. Phonetics = Sound Articulation.
Semantics. Pragmatics = Word Meanings.
Syntax = Sentence Structure.
Morphology = Word Formation.
social psychology lecture
Syntax and morphology are my favourite areas. NOTE: "Favourite" does not mean I did it very well AT ALL. I'd devote this cartoon for any student struggling in a semester all over the world! Hang in there! You're not alone!!In syntax, analysing sentence structures, especially, the ambiguity of a sentence is fun. Try it below.
Q) Is this sentence acceptable or not?(=grammatically correct or not).

"Banana flies like an apple."

(*Does a famous English proverb, "Time flies like an arrow" come across your mind? But how come "banana" and "apple"??)
"Unacceptable," a linguistics student claims, "Because a subject, a noun, "banana" does not have an article, "a," it's incorrect and ungrammatical."But "Yes, acceptable, " a clever biology student asserts,
"Because "banana flies" are tiny fruits flies that are fond of fruits and the subject of the sentence. Therefore, correct and acceptable."
Got the joke? A structurally ambiguous sentence has different meanings.
Where to cut a sentence structure and the feature of parts of speech(noun, verb etc) change syntactic functions(subject, object, etc) and meanings, too. In other words, what speakers assign to a sentence changes a meaning.

I uploaded that famous joke for a linguistics board. Other students seemed to enjoy it.

BUT a biiiiig surprise, a professor beat me back beautifully and demonstrated a new analysis!
"If "Banana" is a proper noun, such as a name of a person, for example, "Mr Banana" (the professor said, "Such a thing hardly happens though"), the bare noun is able to be a subject. Therefore, grammatically, acceptable."
Ohhhhh, my...!! Yes, logically correct and syntactically right. Wow...a PhD level brain goes far beyond a common sense?!? I changed a direction from linguistics to sketch lecturers:).Yet, I love linguistics. If anyone is interested in linguistics, just pop up a lecture and have fun.
Have a wonderful week.

Uni students, get through a semester!! Make good memories! Enjoy your life fully!! P.S. Don't ask me Qs! Try PhD level guys around you.

"My hobby is linguistics," artist Sadami says and linguists have a laugh.



  1. What a fascinating post, Sadami! I did a lot of philology at university all those years ago and my fascination with words lingers on. Have you come across the book, 'Eats shoots and leaves', another sentence that can change its meaning with a bit of punctuation?

  2. I also thought that banana flies were some kind of insect so I got your joke Sadami :) Your sketches to illustrate it are fun!

    My daughter is a first year BA student of English Language Studies at Swansea university, she would find your blog amusing I'm sure.

  3. Linguistics are flying over my head with Mr. Banana, but the cartoons I get, I like. You've had a fun week and you're spreading some.

  4. I enjoy these play on words, Sadami - but not as much as I enjoy your artwork! Very nicely done .. the illustrations are all a joy to behold xx

  5. I like bananas and the artistical milk shake!
    Beautiful ilustrations!

  6. Happy bananas !!! Sadami, you made me laugh with this story and watercolors.Great post !!!
    Imagine french linguistic... ;)

  7. Your every new post is a wonderful surprise for me. So well illustrated.

  8. Very funny, you make me laugh, dear friend. Stunning drawings, quick drawings full of dynamism that achieve to capture the essence of everything that happens. I seem to be there, learning linguistics too:)

  9. This takes me back to my "English" (as they called it then) lessons in school. Loved diagramming sentences, was actually good at. Not sure if that falls under linguistics exactly. Thanks for the nostalgia, though.

  10. You are so clever! ... but I'm glad art won over and you became an artist rather than a linguistics professor.

  11. Dear Judy,
    Sorry. Untill you mentioned, I knew nothing about philology nor the book and checked them up. Philology looks very different from the linguistics I've studied. I always attend linguistics conferences as many as possible to update myself.

    Punctuation can change some semantics meanings, as it changes a sentence structure and parts of speech.

    However, already, American punctuation and Britiish one show some differences. Users make an option, American or British.

    The point is that English is not a linguistic property for specific countries, but it needs to be discussed as a world language and language rights, too.

    In syntax, the professor said, "There isn't a right grammar. It's changing." Language shapes society and people. Society and people also shape language.

    The most important message I've got from linguistics is respect of any language and people and unconditional love for them.

    I know many linguistis advovate endangered languages. Judy, we are losing 1 language every 4 weeks from the earth. syntax professor is one of brave fighters.

    Best regards, Sadami

  12. Deart Ruth,
    I'm so happy to know you enjoyed the joke. Hahaha.
    Please pass my best wishes to your daughter. BA English students share junior units with linguistics students.
    Have a lot fun and enjoy her student life!! Tell her, only once we're young. Let her life shine!
    Cheers, Sadami

  13. Dear Linda,
    Good!! I'm happy as long as Mr Banana is flying over your head and you enjoyed the joke and the illustrations. Let's have fun!
    Cheers, Sadami

  14. Dear Brie,
    Thank you for kind comment.
    Take care.
    Cheers, Sadami

  15. Dear Pat,
    Thank you! I'm very happy to know you enjoyed my art work more than the messy writing on linguistics. I really felt drawing and painting was much, much easier than a research essay and changed the direction.
    Cheers, Sadami

  16. Dear Carol,
    Thank you for a nice say.
    Have a nice day.
    Cheers, Sadami

  17. Dear Antonio,
    Thanks a lot! A world needs laghter.
    Cheers for your art work, too.

  18. Dear Olivia,
    Great! Thank you. Oh, I did the syntactic analysis of French liason. I found so complicated! At once, I gave up studying it. I secretly admire French speakers like you;).
    Cheers, Sadami

  19. Dear Irina,
    A Russian speaking friend was in the course. When we studied a bit about Russian in syntax, it amazed me so much, especially, complicated case making. But my Russian friend had no problem. Wow, ever since, I secretly admire Rsssuan speakers like you:).
    Cheers, Sadami

  20. Dear Carmen,
    Thank you and happy to know you enjoyed the post.
    Yes, it's a good idea to pop up any uni lecture to refresh yourself. When I got stuck in work, I go to uni!
    Cheers, Sadami

  21. Dear Jean,
    Thank you for enjoying the post. I assume diagramming sentences is called, a "tree"? In syntax, a sentence is broken into a word. Then, make a phrase and define what are they. Final step is to find a generalized rule of a sentence structure. Ahahah, you did the same stuff at school. I loved that tree making and got into syntax. My nostalgia.
    Cheers, Sadami

  22. Dear Elva,
    Thank you! But I'm not smart at all in the course. Like you, art is my language, passion and life:).
    Cheers, Sadami

  23. Sadami, congratulations!
    you always have the ability to post good things and very interesting.
    The illustrations are magnificent, has wit and humor! I loved the students of the last rows in the classroom .... they are like that, anywhere on the planet! and Mr. Banana is the best!
    and since I started reading, I was thinking that is grammatically correct, yes! and believe that "Banana flies like an apple" ;¬)
    Great post, great drawigns!

    walk through muddled with subjects of home ...
    so I was a little absent, excuse me ...

    a big hug, dear Sadami!

  24. Sadami-san
    Very cute post. As usual , your cartoons are fun.
    I enjoyed them and your stories very much.
    Have a fantastic week, Evelyn

  25. Dear Denise,
    Oh, thank you!! You always encourage me so much. Very happy to know you're enjoying my blog. You, too, have a wonderful sense of humor and wit. I'll keep up good work.
    Take care of yourself and take time;).
    A biiiig hug and smile,

  26. Dear Tim,
    Thanks! Enjoy your student life!!
    Cheers, Sadami

  27. Hi, Evelyn,
    Thank you! You, too, have a wonderful week and let us enjoy art activities.
    Cheers, Sadami

  28. You are always fantastic, Sadami! I read this post with so much pleasure and fun! You know, my hubby is professor of history of italian language, and I hear often these language jokes... but the difference is that you also DRAW them, and so they are even more interesting, and funny! Cheers, Cristina

  29. Dear Cristina,
    Oh, thank you! This is a true story of a Japanese conductor and Italian opera singers. (If you already know it, please disregard it.)

    The Japanese conductor was practicing "Madam Butter Fly” in Italy. The maestro asked opera singers to put on kimono. After use, kimono was not easy to hold properly. The singers scatter kimono in the room, which upset the maestro. So, he asked the singers to set a box for return. But the box with a misspelled label more upset the conductor. The offended maestro scolded the singers, “Can’t you write ‘kimono’ properly with respect for a Japanese culture?”
    “But…Maestro, one is kimono, two is kimoni.”
    Yes, singular and plural—an Italian noun changes a form.

    I know an Italian speaking linguist. She said, "I could guess a punch line though, it's funny," and we had a laugh together. Please pass my best wishes to your hubby.
    Cheers and smile, Sadami

  30. An excellent post full of great pictures and good humor. I am very glad that you say you are thinking about how to do a watercolor of "broken word ", I'm excited. Greetings.

  31. Dear Leovi,
    Thank you! Your abstract photos, especially, the "broken word" impresses me most. I wish I could make it into watercolor.
    Cheers, Sadami

  32. impresionante una genia como siempre!!!

  33. Dear Bett,
    Thank you, but I'm not a genuis at all. I'm a dunce at the linguistics course:). My secret graffiti on text books were so popular among friends. Hahaha!
    Cheers, Sadami

    Estimado Bett,
    Gracias, pero yo no soy un Genuis en absoluto. Soy un burro en el campo de la lingüística:). Mi secreto de graffiti en los libros de texto han sido tan popular entre los amigos. Jajaja!
    Saludos, Sadami

    >>>>Bett said...
    a genius as always awesome!

  34. Hola Sadami hoy tu post es un rollo!! Ja Ja, mi nivel de ingles y el poco interés que tengo por la gramatica hace que era de los alumnos que estaban en el fondo del amfiteatro, haciendo dibujitos, y hoy, como los niños y malos estudiantes he disfrutado mucho viendo las ilustraciones , no con el texto.ja Ja.

  35. Dear Francis,
    Thanks!! I know, this is my mistake that the post could be boring, especially for non English speakers and those who have less interest in grammar. Please get relieved that I would not write such boring linguistic stuff any more:). Me, too, I was the student mainly working on graffiti on text books and notes. Hahaha!!
    Kind regards,

    Estimado Francisco,
    Gracias! Lo sé, este es mi error que el puesto puede ser aburrido, especialmente para los que no hablan Inglés y los que tienen menos interés en la gramática. Por favor, póngase aliviada de que yo no podría escribir tales cosas lingüística aburrido nada más:). Yo también, yo era el estudiante trabajando principalmente sobre el graffiti en los libros de texto y las notas. Jajaja!
    Un cordial saludo,

    >>>Francis said...
    Hello Sadami your post today is boring! Ha ha, my level of English and little interest I have in the grammar makes students was that they were in the bottom of the amphitheater, with cartoons, and today, as children and poor students have enjoyed seeing the pictures, not texto. ha with ha.

  36. Uh i loved all the ilustrations and they are all very original, good to see someone using the languages jokes nowadays, they are all the best :b nice job !

  37. Dear Dynamite J,
    Thank you for visiting my blog and a kind encouragement. Your work, too, is very unique and original. Keep them up and bloom out!!!
    Best wishes, Sadami

  38. Dear Sadami,
    I had written a long post but I don't know what happened, it seems you didn't get it. I love your illustrations as well as your play on words. I had a good laugh.
    In my post I was telling you that it reminded me of some passages in Alice in Wonderland.

    Thank you very much for your wonderful stories and illustrations. It is always a treat to visit your blog :)

  39. Dear Anna,
    Oh, did you?! I'm afraid your post did not come to me(*I was awaiting you, as you said you did linguistics, too!).
    Thank you so much for the second try. I assume it took your energy and time(Hey, Blogger, do the right job!). Very happy to know you enjoyed it, even though unfortunately, this post seems not so popular among readers.

    The professor who taught me syntax has gone to another uni this year. So, I made this post for her memory. The professor is the person who encouraged me to set a blog and celebrates my blog is right on a track:).

    I really look forward to your watercolor!!!

    Cheers, Sadami

  40. Dear Sadami,

    Your professor must be a very clever person and must know you very well.

    I just wanted to tell you that we didn't have a Department of Linguistics when I studied at Barcelona University. I studied English Philology but I took a subject on semantics during my second year and English linguistics in my 5th year. I also studied phonetics and phonology, so this is the reason I told you I had also studied linguistics. I have great memories and I remember my teacher in the 5th year. She had just come from Pennsylvania where she had been doing a research directed by William Labov. We didn't have computers at that time (this tells you about my age) and she had brought hers from the States. Once she invited us to her house and showed us her computer. We were amazed at what that device could do, ha,ha,ha.

    Keep drawing, painting and telling stories. We are looking forward to your next post.
    Your professor was right :)

  41. Dear Anna,
    Ooooohhhh!!!! I admire you!! "English Philology," "semantics" in English linguistics in the "5th year," and phonetics&phonology. Many education, philosophy & law students who use "language" as device take linguistics, too.

    BTY, my impressive professor was/is the expert of Australian Indigenous languages, endangered languages and Austrailan English. She once said, while marking our assignments, "Is there any unknown language" (=knew any language on the earth! Amazing!!) The most important message given me is "unconditional love" and "respect" for any language and people. I was lucky she taught syntax, semantics, pragmatics and English structure. Great happy torturing?!

    Today, the professor is a very big name as an activist for endangered languages from a local to global level. They run this blog. Have a look.

    Regarding a computer, your story is lovely. Don't be shy. I was a mature student, an old hen. When I was at a first year, some tutors still accepted hand-writing essays. But no more from a second yr. It was very quick that computers took over all areas in academia.

    Today, there's a linguistics unit for computer work so that students "archive" researched data such as endangered languages with computers=digital records.

    For the time is changing rapidly:). But human hearts are still the same:).

    You, too, let me hear your interesting stories. Your watercolor paintings are very lovely, full of passion and amazingly beautiful. I look forward to a next!
    (*I do not know why, but becuase your latest post did not show a picture and only writing at "Reading list" on "Dashboard" and I nearly missed out your beautiful work. I should have been careful to check it.)

  42. Thank you very much for taking the time to write such a long post. How interesting everything you tell me about your professor. It must have been very exciting to attend her classes. I also have great respect for languages, maybe because I also speak a minority language (Catalan) and I know how difficult it is to keep it alive. This is the reason why languages fascinate me because they give me an insight into the way people think, speak and understand. I'm very curious.

    Thank you for the link. I watched 'A New York Jew in China'. It was so funny to hear him because I could understand a great deal of words since Yiddish is so close to German.

    Please, don't take my periods of silence into account. It only means that I'm very busy and I haven't got time to write or, what is worse and sad, to paint. I'm still teaching and it is hard to cope with everything.

    Keep painting, I'll do the same ;)

  43. Dear Anna,
    Thank you for a lengthy and kind reply. I know you use Catalan from your blog. I always check each blogger's language and respect it. I saw the speaker(Catalan) at the conference before. If my memory is correct, it's Eric. Please have a look of my sketches of linguists.

    Evey 4 weeks we are losing one language from the earth. How sad it is! It's a human rights issue at the same time.

    Wow, you understand Yiddish. I admire you and your wonderful language competence. I can read Chinese and understand some basic Korean, but that's all. Another my "collection" is to pick up "I love you" in any language that makes a native speaker smile:).

    You, too, keep painting and share joy through art and speak loud on behalf of Catalonian, the treasure of human language.

    Love and smile, Sadami