Diagram this: Those linguists on the weblog, Launguage Log, have all the fun. Today, Geoffrey K. Pullman lays down the challenge to diagram the following sentence from an article in The New Yorker (11/22/04, p. 62 of the print edition):
“We are world champions at lawmaking,” Christine Ockrent, who has anchored the evening news on two channels, run the weekly L’Express, and, as she says, “seen everything,” told me a few days after the law was signed.
Says Pullman, “Just 37 words (counting L’Express as one, since this is English), but enough complexity to keep a syntactician busy for a quiet hour or two. I’m not entirely sure I could justify a complete structure for this sentence at all; it would certainly take half an hour to explain all the details. It is a mystery to me how we are able to read such sentences and understand them.”
A mystery, indeed.