Adventures in Linguistics: He is X nor Y

I had a curious experience in semantics class today.  We were covering the scope of negation, and the professor had presented us with three sentences:

(1) Pat isn't a plumber and isn't an architect.

(2) Pat is not a plumber or an architect.

(3) Pat is neither a plumber nor an architect.

Part of what we were discussing was the fact that all three of these sentences mean the same thing  (that is, the sentence is true only if Pat does not belong to either of these professions), but it seems that (1) and (2) derive that meaning differently, and we were working on which of those sets of rules apply to (3).

I won't bore people with the technical details, but along the discussion, one of my classmates brought up an example of their own:

(4) Pat is neither a plumber or an architect.

Which was grammatical to her, though I find it slightly questionable.  This encouraged me to bring up an example that I had been mulling over in my head for about 10 minutes:

(5) Pat is a plumber nor an architect.

Though I thought that (5) was good and means the same as (3), apparently no other native English speaker in the class agreed with me that (5) was grammatical at all.  One person thought it may have to do with me being from "the South" -- which still amuses me, since I never did consider the part of West Virginia I come from particularly Southern (I suppose it looks very different from Wisconsin).  In any case, it did lead to a short discussion of what could possibly be going on with my dialect of English to cause this construction.

It's funny how these things pop up.  I've had a moment like this before, when the double-modal might could was brought up in syntax class (that one I know is common in Appalachia and the South, but not up here), and I'm sure these things will happen again.


I have neglected this site for such a long time, and yet people seem to be coming here every day, so I figure I will put together a little life update.


  • I still do not have a job, but I have applied for a substitute teaching position in Randolph county, West Virginia.  I am hoping to substitute for a while as a way to explore education as a career option.  If I get to substitute and find I like it, I'll go for a Masters in education.  If not, well, I'll go for something else.
  • The Conlangery Podcast is gaining more and more listeners, if my download statistics are reliable at all.  The last episode got 209 listens on the very first day.  I never expected it to be as successful as it has been, and I hope that it continues to grow.That's a lot of downloads
  • I'm starting another nativity scene for my brother and 嫂嫂/saosao (that means "older brother's wife" to you yahoos out there, I love Chinese kinship terms.
  • Speaking of saosao, she just recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Rose (or Xiao Rose as we like to call her).  The mother is now in the traditional one-month rest period Chinese women often take, supervised by her mother, but at least I've gotten to go visit and see the baby a couple times.Xiao Rose "smiling"

I suppose that's about all that's notable.  I'm hoping soon to restart 千字作文 and Mil Palabras.  I haven't been at those for so long I'm afraid I'm going to get a bit rusty.  Anyway, see you all.