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Query Details

Query Subject:   Syntactic/semantic games
Author:   Lynne Murphy
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  General Linguistics
Subject Language(s):  English

Query:   Thu, 06 May 1999 17:34:59 +0000
Lynne Murphy
Syntactic/semantic games

This list has seen several discussions of language games, but they
typically concern language games exploiting the phonological resources
of a language (e.g., play languages, like Pig Latin). There are also
lots of games for English that involve the spelling system (crossword
games, word ladders, etc.). I'm interested in learning the rules of
games that take advantage of the morphological, syntactic, or semantic
resources of a language. Obvious candidates are things like the
''dictionary game'' (in which people bluff definitions for an uncommon
word in the dictionary), punning games (although I'm not sure I know
of any particular rules for any), and the question game played by the
characters in _Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead_. On the
morphological side, I was recently at a party where we played a
''prefix'' game, in which we'd take a Latinate word with a prefix and
then subsitute other prefixes and make silly definitions for them:
e.g, we started with ''pretentious'' and made up words like
''hypertentious''--having high blood pressure, and ''supertentious''--of
or relating to a big top (circus tent).

I'd appreciate any references, game rules, or ideas--I'm teaching a
continuing ed course on word games next semester, and would like to
approach it as ''what we can learn about language by playing games with

Lynne Murphy

M. Lynne Murphy
Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English
Baylor University
PO Box 97404
Waco, TX 76798
LL Issue: 10.720
Date posted: 11-May-1999


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