Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lingua Franca finale: "Unbreak my heart"

The very last Lingua Franca radio program replayed a program on morphology, especially the prefix un- in pop songs. "Unchain my heart" is right. "Unbreak my heart" is a rule breaker or linguistic special effect. You can't un-give someone a ring. Why not?
How come you can be hurt by an unknown assailant but you can't unknow or undiscover or unthink things or uncry your tears .... Why not?
How come we know intuitively what verbs we can un- and which ones we can't. This final 26 January 2013 Lingua Franca was triggered by the words of the popsong, 'Unbreak my Heart'. The reknowned grammarian and former keyboard player in the soul group the Ram Jam Band, Geoff Pullum, uncovered the reversing 'un'-cryptotype while visiting Australia.
  The entire Lingua Franca series is available online as transcripts and audio files. Wonderful stimulating fodder for language lovers. Thanks to the Australian Broadcasting Commission and Maria Zijlstra.

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