An apparently new speech disorder a linguistics department our correspondent visited was affected by has appeared. Those affected our correspondent a local grad student called could hardly understand apparently still speak fluently.
Centre embedding is a fun linguistic phenomenon. Wikipedia describes it as a process of
embedding a phrase in the middle of another phrase of the same type. It’s easier (and more fun) to explain with examples:
- No embedding
- The cat meowed.
- Single centre embedding
- The cat [that the dog chased] meowed.
- Double centre embedding
- The cat [that the dog [that the driver hit] chased] meowed.
- The fly the spider caught…
Single centre embedding is generally acceptable. Beyond this, with the subjects all stacked on one side and the verbs on the other, it can be difficult to process. Take appropriate precautions to ensure the safety of all involved when the sentence implodes.
- Centre embedding (Wikipedia)
- Processing Center-Embedded Sentences (Jill Weckerly, 1992)
- Stack Exchange: Limits on center-embedding in English