Linguistics in Cabin Pressure's Xinzhou episode: Reduplication, truth conditions, and accidental doge speak
In Timbuktu, we saw contrastive focus reduplication, which involves doubling to indicate a more prototypical example, but here we have triple reduplication to indicate emphasis:
CAROLYN: Right, Martin: do the walk-around.
MARTIN: I was about to do the walk-around and you said, “In-in-in.”
CAROLYN: And now I’m saying, “Out-out-out.” Go!
Note that it’s just totally odd for Caroline to say “in-in” or “out-out” if she’s chivvying Martin in or out, although she could do it to distinguish between being in and in-in (properly in), etc. Similarly, you can say to someone “all you ever do is whine, whine, whine” but it’s stranger to say:
*All you ever do is whine, whine.
?All you ever do is whine, whine, whine, whine.
Three or four reduplicants has a decidedly different effect from just two.
Secondly, an example of a sentence that is totally grammatical but nearly impossible to utter truthfully:
DOUGLAS: Ah, hallo. I thought you were asleep.
CAROLYN: I am asleep.
Since one generally isn’t aware of being asleep (and talking in one’s sleep isn’t under conscious control), you can’t say “I am asleep/I’m sleeping” to mean the same thing as “x is asleep/x is sleeping”. But since we all know this, we end up interpreting “I’m asleep” with some extra pragmatics to mean the speaker is very close to sleep, would be sleeping if not for your interruption, etc.
But instead of sleeping, they’re playing a question-and-answer film title game:
MARTIN: Okay, okay, okay, okay! How Green Was My Valley?
[Transcriber’s note: as in ‘Se7en’]
DOUGLAS: “Seven”?! Your valley was seven green?
MARTIN: Yes. Out of ten. I think the scale is implicit.
I’m pretty sure that “seven green” is fluent doge and not much else (our selectional restriction mismatch here is that “green” is an adjective while numbers modify nouns).
Part of cabinpressureadvent. Previous linguistics in Cabin Pressure.
Airline vs Airdot in Abu Dhabi, Structural ambiguity and scalar implicature in Boston, Superlatives and “would do” in Cremona, At-issue-ness, passives, and metaphors in Douz, Why “Edinbra”, plural sports teams, and “posh Welsh” in Edinburgh, More on Edinburgh/Edinbra, Word games in Fitton.
Season 2: NATO alphabet and chiasmus in Helsinki, Polish names and sportscaster present in Gdansk, Expletive infixation, strong past, Gricean maxims, and quantifiers in Ipswich, Formal vocabulary, Spanish, and onomatopoeia in Johannesburg, Ambiguous compounds in Kuala Lumpur, Limericks, perfect rhymes, and evil-sounding names in Limerick, Christmas mondegreens in Molokai.
Season 3: Ellipsis ambiguity in Newcastle, Snowclones, irregular plurals, and adjectives in Ottery St Mary, Diagnostic questions and rhyming phrases in Paris, Uvular stops, Q, French adverbs in Qikiqtarjuaq, dactyls and “DER der der” in Rotterdam, At-issue content in St Petersburg.
Season 4: Contrastive focus reduplication in Timbuktu, Modality in Uskerty, The NPI “give a hoot” in Vaduz, Gricean relevance in Wokingham.