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Input Junkie - Phrasing question
March 12th, 2014
12:15 pm

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Phrasing question
Meme seen on Facebook:

Arguing with idiots is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter how good you are, the bird is going to shit on the board and strut around like it won anyway.

I'm curious about what function "anyway" serves in the sentence. I find that it seems to add almost no meaning (I think it affects the point of view slightly), but the sentence seems desperately incomplete without it. Possibly a matter of rhythm?

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From:bemused_leftist
Date:March 12th, 2014 04:30 pm (UTC)
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'Anyway' = 'in any case' or 'in either case'.

Not sure how much that helps. But the sentence is a little odd, er, anyway, since 'how good you are' is imperfect/progressive and 'won' is perfect tense.
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From:wild_irises
Date:March 12th, 2014 05:43 pm (UTC)
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I see the "anyway" as meaning "even though it obviously didn't." But we don't say, "George Bush was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run anyway." I suspect it's largely about how we saw it first.
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From:bemused_leftist
Date:March 13th, 2014 06:08 am (UTC)
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Huh? Sure I'd say that about Bush, if I'd thought of it!

But original or not, I'm going to say it anyway.

What is the problem with 'anyway', anyway?

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From:nancylebov
Date:March 13th, 2014 12:02 pm (UTC)
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Probably just me, but I try to make one-liners as short as possible to make them snappier, so when I was typing that one out, I got to the "anyway" and couldn't figure out why I was reluctant to get rid of it.
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From:bemused_leftist
Date:March 13th, 2014 09:34 pm (UTC)
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Neither with nor without is perfect. Without the 'anyway' if feels incomplete, I'm waiting for closure. But the 'anyway' feels a little redundant.
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From:wild_irises
Date:March 13th, 2014 02:17 pm (UTC)
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I heard (and repeated) that a lot when Bush was president, but without the "anyway."
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From:inquisitiveravn
Date:March 14th, 2014 04:17 am (UTC)
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The Bush comment, sans the word "anyway" is, AFAIK, something originally said by Molly Ivins when he was governor of Texas.
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From:whswhs
Date:March 13th, 2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
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But there's another reason not to say that: "anyway" means "despite that," which can have the sense of overcoming an obstacle. So one possible reading of that sentence with the "anyway" would be that being on third base is an obstacle to reaching home base, i.e., that Bush's wealth and connections made his political career harder to pursue.
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From:whswhs
Date:March 13th, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
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Grammatically, "anyway" can be parsed in two different ways:

(1) as a sentence adverb modifying the whole main clause, "the bird is going to . . ."

(2) as an adverb modifying the verb "won" in the subordinate clause "it won anyway . . ."

The first meaning is mostly redundant, as it conveys the same idea as "no matter how good you are," in somewhat vaguer form. But "no matter how good you are" clearly applies to the main clause, "the bird is going to [behave in this way]." Therefore it really can't also modify the subordinate clause: *like it won [no matter how good you are] isn't a possible reading. Adding "anyway" at the end does make that a possible reading: (despite your superior ability), the bird will act as if [it won (despite your superior ability)]. That's a more forceful statement: Not just that the bird will act as if it were victorious, but it will act as if it were victorious in an unequal contest, like David going up against Goliath.
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