I realized while reading the last post that I sounded awfully negative about my research! I should note that I find what I’m doing fascinating; it’s my descriptions and attempts to convey that excitement that bore.

I guess I could just edit that post, but WordPress utilizes what may be the most complicated blogging software known to man. I’m not sure whether I’m writing a post or controlling a satellite. For instance, where might you expect to find the blog subtitle? Maybe under “Dashboard”? “Appearance”? “Settings”? “Blog info”? I worry that if I delve too deeply I will literally become lost in the pages. So the post stays.

Back to the item at hand. I made a little graphical thing that I think describes the grammar problem in a different way.

Grammar problem

Grammar problem

Notice how the referential arrows cross in the first case and do not cross in the second case. (The order in which I listed the cases is reversed from how I wrote it in my previous post.)

From here you can imagine larger constructions. Let’s say that the non-confusing form of the clause is The seeing of men about horses on Tuesdays. If the “split” form is proper at all, there are only two choices.

  1. Men, horses, Tuesdays, and the seeing thereof, thereabouts, thereon
  2. Men, horses, Tuesdays, and the seeing thereon, thereabouts, thereof

This cases correspond to the same sort of diagrams. For the first, the arrows are all crossing. For the second, the arrows are all nested. It is obviously wrong to mix the two; at least it certainly feels wrong, as it would imply that the rules of grammar being applied are dependent on the number of prepositional phrases, which is a little silly. For example, we can say via intuition that “men, horses, Tuesdays, and the seeing thereon, thereof, thereabouts” is incorrect.

The first form (crossing arrows) is akin to FIFO behavior: first in, first out. The second is LIFO: last in, first out. It’s this mathy, computer-sciency connection that interests me – are split prepositional phrases (making up the terminology) ordered FIFO or LIFO in English? What about other languages?

My vote is on LIFO, mainly because I think it feels niftier on the tongue.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there are men, horses, Tuesdays, barns, profit, and the seeing therefor, therein, thereon, thereabouts, thereof to which I must attend.