Stumbling over objects

Laura Conaway at the Maddow Blog quoted Hob Bryan, a state senator from Mississippi:

What we have not done is to pass bill after bill after bill that was obviously unconstitutional just so we could all get on record one more time as casting another vote realizing that what was going to happen was someone would file suit the next day and the legislation would never take effect.

And “for the pure geek of it,” she invited Maddow readers to diagram that salamander of a sentence — which they did.

Mark Liberman of Language Log is pleased to nominate Bryan’s effort for the semi-coveted Trent Reznor Prize for Tricky Embedding.



  1. McGehee »

    17 April 2012 · 2:08 pm

    I understood what he was saying.

    I’m frightened.

  2. fillyjonk »

    17 April 2012 · 3:16 pm

    The sentence in question there is not unlike your tagline about not possibly failing to disagree less.

    (I have tried parsing that out MANY times and wind up disagreeing with myself as to what is meant. Too many negatives.)

  3. Jeff Brokaw »

    18 April 2012 · 1:05 pm

    I also understood it on the first read-thru. To me, it reads like people actually talk.

  4. Joseph Hertzlinger »

    19 April 2012 · 11:25 pm

    For extra credit, try diagramming the following from Lewis Carroll: “Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.”

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