Friday, March 12, 2010

Hustling the Illinois Lottery

In this year's first two months, I was part of a group that garnered more than $4,000 from the Illinois Lottery. Feel free to read about it on my brother-in-law's blog1:

Part 1

Part 2

1 He's only posted two parts so far, though there will probably be a half-dozen more. I will warn you that his writing is more long-winded than mine1A and more profane.
1A Though less tangential1B.
1B I'm having a difficult time convincing myself that "tangential" is an actual word. Clearly, by the plethora of footnotes, you understand what the word means1C.
1C And therein lies the debate over prescriptive vs. descriptive linguistics. Prescriptive linguists would tell you that a word is not a word unless they say so [i.e. It is in the dictionary]. While this sounds intellectually stifling, it promotes regularity in language and allows for such things as clear written communication. However, descriptive linguists say the beauty of human communication1D comes from the fact that humans can create new ideas/new words. So if, say, "tangential" is not a word [even though it is; I looked it up finally] and I used it, you could infer that it means "in the manner of a tangent" or some such nonsense. Therefore, it would be a word, because you know of what I refer. Of course, the actual academic material on this is much more complicated, detailed, and correct, but this is all I can remember/fabricate off the top of my head.
1D In fact, innovation is often said by linguists to be the defining characteristic of language as opposed to communication. For example, a monkey's shriek may indicate "Holy shit! Watch out for that leopard!" or another may indicate "I am going to groom you, fellow monkey." However, the shrieks cannot be placed together to create a new indication, such as "Holy shit, I am going to groom a leopard!" The idea, then, is that while monkeys communicate, they do not use language.

1 comment:

  1. This was the most entertaining read of my day. I'm referring to your blog not your Brother-in-laws. His was long winded and quite boring.