Hey, you got cataphora in my anaphora! Well, you got anaphora in my cataphora! Mmmm, slightly confusing.

by John Holbo on August 12, 2010

From Vincent Scully’s introduction to Robert Venturi’s Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture: “This is not an easy book. It requires professional commitment and close visual attention, and is not for those architects who, lest they offend them, pluck out their eyes.” Two pronouns clash in too slight a clause, like two travelers crashing in too tight a doorway, who, lest they perchance have been switched by them, check whose piece of luggage is whose. Ahem. The Fascist octopus, lest it … aw, this is too hard.



Stephen Stratford 08.12.10 at 9:06 am

Yes it is not the best standard English but that is because it is a quote from the Bible. Matthew 18:9, to be precise. Various versions are at http://scripturetext.com/matthew/18-9.htm. The King James version: “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee.”

Eww, but I don’t think you can blame Vincent Scully.


Tim Wilkinson 08.12.10 at 3:10 pm

Though it doesn’t establish it as good enough to justify it’s having it despite it, the reduced incidence of this kind of problem is one reason why a language can benefit from gender even though at the expense of added complexity.


roac 08.12.10 at 3:34 pm

I am trying not to stare at that sentence too long. I am mindful of Lurgan Sahib and the inkpool.

(I was just reading online about how they have made an arrest in the serial stabber case, and I wondered whether it is possible to be both a Person of Interest and a Man (or Woman) of Principle. Is it too much of a stretch to ask the question here? Probably.)


Bernard Yomtov 08.12.10 at 8:59 pm

Maybe Scully should stick to baseball.


BillCinSD 08.13.10 at 5:31 am

Vin was pretty good at football too, which is more complex than baseball, but I doubt his ability at contradiction


rea 08.14.10 at 12:05 pm

I wondered whether it is possible to be both a Person of Interest and a Man (or Woman) of Principle.

It’s quite possible–ask any broker or banker.

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