reflexive adverbial incandescent hypodermic irregular accusative Noun of Multitude [Mark Twain]

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Linda Halfmoon

Member
Estonian
Hi everybody,

I am translating M.Twain's Is Shakespeare Dead? into Estonian and have stuck to a sentence I can't understand (I mark the spot as bold): "Why, it is just like being the past tense of the compound reflexive adverbial incandescent hypodermic irregular accusative Noun of Multitude; which is father to the expression which the grammarians call Verb. It is like a whole ancestry, with only one posterity."
It's a joke of course, but what is the message? All I see is that he has given a mock-grammatical face to it.
The general idea of Twain is that the Stratford-Shakespearians (as opposed to the Baconians) are ready to admit even several fathers to the Starfordian Shakespeare as long as it serves their purpose.
Can anybody enlighten me, please?

Hopefully,
Linda
 
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  • Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    It doesn't mean anything. You can simply translate word for word into Estonian and achieve the same effect. It's a nonsense phrase.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    the past tense of the compound reflexive adverbial incandescent hypodermic irregular accusative Noun of Multitude. Everything in red is, semantically, nonsense: if you start with the six black words, you can then either invent your own version or do a literal translation.
     

    Linda Halfmoon

    Member
    Estonian
    Tough question (what have I already understood?). Of course I have studied the dictionaries. When I look at the phrase in bold I see that only 2 words are directly out of the lingo of grammatics: 'incandescent' and 'hypodermic'. I also see that 'accusative' looks like 'accusing'. By the way I don't even understand what Twain means by 'Verb' in the end of the passage. Is it 'word' in general, or verb (predicate) specifically (in Estonian, there are two different words)?
    Do these words, 'incandecent' and 'hypodermic', have no semantics to deliver at all? In case of the first, like some fiery past of the Earth? In the second... well, none comes to mind.
    Nonsensical, yes. But did T. really choose these words ('inc' and 'hyp') completely at random?

    Sorry to be so dumb :(
     
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    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    In my opinion these are two random words which he inserted into a sequence of linguistic terms precisely so that we would recognise that it is intentionally nonsense. If those words weren't there, some readers might have wasted their time trying to decode what the rest meant.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    "Incandescent" and "hypodermic" are appropriate because they are highly technical terms, albeit ones borrowed from sciences other than linguistics.
    I also see that 'accusative' looks like 'accusing'.
    I don't personally think this is relevant. "Accusative" is just a technical term incomprehensible to the non-linguists who are assumed to form the majority of Twain's readership.
     
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    I agree with Glasg and Paul Q; it mostly nonsense, though some of the terms are from a grammarian's lexicon.


    In my opinion these are two random words which he inserted into a sequence of linguistic terms precisely so that we would recognise that it is intentionally nonsense. If those words weren't there, some readers might have wasted their time trying to decode what the rest meant.
    ADDED: A bit of context may help: Here are some preceding lines:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2431/2431-h/2431-h.htm

    They “presume” the lad severed his “presumed” connection with the Stratford school to become apprentice to a butcher. They also “presume” that the butcher was his father. They don’t know. There is no written record of it, nor any other actual evidence. If it would have helped their case any, they would have apprenticed him to thirty butchers, to fifty butchers, to a wilderness of butchers—all by their patented method “presumption.” If it will help their case they will do it yet; and if it will further help it, they will “presume” that all those butchers were his father. And the week after, they will say it.
    Twain is criticizing "presumption" so he takes a fanciful grammatical thesis, that the Noun of Multitude gave rise to [is the father of] the verb, and embellishes the 'father' in the way the 'presumers' do, till it's nonsense.

    My own example. Perhaps "Sorcery gave rise to[is the father of] medicine." But after some investigations and presumptions, I conclude:

    "Intransitive, fulgiferous, subdermal gerundive sorcery is the father of medicine."
    ===


    ADDED: I have [Dec 15, 6 am] made some revisions of the above example to bring it closer to Twain's wording and clarify what he's doing.
     
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    Linda Halfmoon

    Member
    Estonian
    Thank you:
    as English is not my mother tongue I'm unable to perceive myself that 'incandescent' and 'hypodermic' are highly technical, not common terms. Twain's nonsense is beginning to make some sense now...
     
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