Anaphoric islands, the free world and folk theories of language

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | The 'misunderestimated' president? "I want to thank my friend, Senator Bill Frist, for joining us today. He married a Texas girl, I want you to know. Karyn is with us. A West Texas girl, just like me."
Nashville, Tennessee, 27 May, 2004

The BBC decided to kick Bush while he's down and on his way out. But the way they went about it, viz compiling a list of Bushisms, undescores the ubiquity of language reflection in the popular consciousness. But it also shows the limits of hypostasis. For example, the kind of anaphoric island mismatch that Bush exhibited in this quote is perfectly common in normal fluent speech as are references to it by language mavens. In fact, there is no easy way to resolve the anaphora in this case, once the speaker has launched down a particular garden path. Just try rephrasing finishing the sentence 'A Texas girl, just like ...' It's incredibly difficult on the fly and requires a very special kind of rhetorical training such as a radio host might have. Furthermore, it signifies nothing of the intelligence of the speaker or the quality of the contents. A similar style quote might underscore that.

"I have a different vision of leadership. A leadership is someone who brings people together."
Bartlett, Tennessee, 18 August, 2000

This brings up a whole lot of questions about anaphora and online language processing and blending that would be really difficult to answer with the traditional approaches to linguistic research.

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