Weblogger extraordinaire Mark Woods is putting wood s lot on hiatus as he is going computerless. He does not say for exactly how long, but indicates that it will be long enough to hurt. I know I will dearly miss my daily fix and hope Mark will hurry back to the cybersphere, even if he does not decide to add the apostrophe to ‘wood s lot’ for whose absence I have chided him (“like an itch I can’t scratch”), as he suggests he might. It has always been beyond me where he manages to find the riches to which he consistently links. Many webloggers are prolific, but those of us who may sometimes be accused of offending with volume largely use convenient, routine sources — e.g. a few, or a few dozen, tried and true media sites. Mark surfs the deep web instead. I sometimes wish he would put abit more of himself into his posts; I’d like to know better this man whose web presence enlivens and stimulates so much. But what he thinks is clearly between the lines of what he posts. The silver lining, Mark, is that you’ll probably gain back as available time the — oh, what? — forty-five minutes or so daily that you have been devoting to compiling wood s lot. Here’s hoping your mercurial spirit will find other satisfying, productive outlets while you’re computerless…

It’s Like This:

Muffy E. A. Siegel, Dept of English, Temple University: Like:

the Discourse Particle and Semantics

Using data from interviews with high school students, I first adduce evidence that lends support to Schourup’s (1985) claim that the United States English adolescent hedge like is a discourse particle signalling a possible slight mismatch between words and meaning. Such a particle would generally be included in a grammar in a post-compositional pragmatic component, but, surprisingly, like also affects basic semantic attributes. These include both truth-conditions and the weak/strong distinction-though only in existential there and sluicing sentences. I argue that the differential behaviour of like in various constructions selecting weak NP’s stems from the restricted free variable it introduces, a variable which only there and sluicing require. This variable is available for binding, quantifier interpretation and other syntactic-semantic processes, yet is pragmatically conditioned. Indeed, I show that, due to its formal properties, like can be interpreted only during the assignment of model-theoretic denotations to expressions, along the lines of Lasersohn’s (1999) pragmatic haloes. These results support the idea that weak/strong is not a unitary distinction and suggest that the various components of grammars must be organized to allow information from pragmatic/discourse elements to affect basic compositional semantics. Journal of Semantics [via NPR’s Morning Edition]. [Isn’t it, like, appropriate that a study of the use of like is written by a Muffy?]