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23 Marts 2004 @ 11:32
Cite you in the funny papers: McGruder on Bush and Aktionsart  

So in my semantics class this morning, Aktionsarten were on the agenda. And one of the things I wanted to point out was that achievements don't permit the same kinds of scope ambiguities with almost that we find with accomplishments, activities, and states.

So on the handout I had examples drawn from the textbook (Kearns 2000), like this:

  1. Accomplishment
    Jones almost ran to the store.
    1. Almost ∃e run(e) & agent(j, e) & to(e, the store)
      (He decided not to go.)
    2. ∃e [Almost run(e)] & agent(j, e) & to(e, the store)
      (He walked very quickly.)
    3. ∃e run(e) & agent(j, e) & [Almost to(e, the store)]
      (He didn't quite get there.)
  2. Achievement
    Jones almost noticed the marks on the wallpaper.
    1. Almost ∃e notice(e) & experiencer(j, e) & percept(the marks on the wallpaper, e)
    2. (No other readings available.)

And then I read today's Boondocks (McGruder 2004), which just happens to contain three brilliant examples of exactly the point I wanted to make:

TV: [panel 1] In 2001, President Bush almost prevented the worst terrorist attack in American history... [panel 2] He invaded Afghanistan and almost captured Osama bin Laden... [panel 3] He invaded Iraq and almost found weapons of mass destruction... [panel 4] When it comes to terrorism, isn't ALMOST good enough? Re-elect President Bush.
(The url for the image will probably stop working in about a fortnight or so.)

Bush failed to prevent the worst terrorist attack in American history. He did not do something to the worst terrorist attack in American history that nearly constituted preventing it, nor did he prevent a terrorist attack that was nearly the worst in American history. And that's because preventing a terrorist attack would be an achievement, and the Bush administration is rather low on those....

Nuværende humør: pleasedpleased
Nuværende musik: Pogues, "If I should fall from grace with God"