A Syntactic Analysis


‘After a lecture on cosmology and the structure of the solar system, William James was accosted by a little old lady who told him that his view of the earth rotating round the sun was wrong.

“I’ve got a better theory,” said the little old lady.

“And what is that, madam?” inquired James politely.

“That we live on a crust of earth which is on the back of a giant turtle.”

“If your theory is correct, madam,” he asked, “what does this turtle stand on?”

“You’re a very clever man, Mr. James, and that’s a very good question,” replied the little old lady, “but I have an answer to it. And it’s this: the first turtle stands on the back of a second, far larger, turtle, who stands directly under him.”

“But what does the second turtle stand on?” persisted James patiently.

To this, the little old lady crowned triumphantly, “It’s no use, Mr. James, it’s turtles all the way down.”

Adapted from Ross (1967)’

– Yule, G. 1985. The Study of Language Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press (2010) p. 96

Funeral Blues


He was my North, my South, my East and West
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song
I thought that love would last forever – I was wrong

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood
For nothing now can ever come to any good

– W. H. Auden