absolutely trivial: linguistic songs

Lynne Murphy lynnem at COGS.SUSX.AC.UK
Mon Aug 14 14:41:03 UTC 2000

Every once and again, I threaten to make a mix tape of songs with
linguistics themes, but after I get past "Let's call the whole thing
off" and the Proclaimers' "Throw the R away", I tend to run out of
material.  But here's one to add to the list:  The Magnetic Fields, on
their magnum opus _69 Love Songs_, have a song called "The Death of
Ferdinand de Saussure."  I'm not quite sure what it has to do with FdS,
except that his name provides some pretty cool rhymes.  (I suppose one
could argue that the claim of not knowing anything is in tune with FdS's
claim that there are no positive expressions of meaning?  And perhaps
the chorus is a reference to all the conjugations that students of
French have to do?) The lyrics, courtesy of stephinsongs.wiw.org:

6. The Death of Ferdinand de Saussure

A:002220      G:320033 D:x00232
  I met Ferdinand de Saussure
on a night like this
On love he said "I'm not so sure
I even know what it is
No understanding, no closure
It is a nemesis
You can't use a bulldozer
to study orchids," he said, "so

we don't know anything
you don't know anything
I don't know anything about love
But we are nothing
you are nothing
I am nothing without love"

I'm just a great composer
and not a violent man
but I lost my composure
and I shot Ferdinand
crying, "It's well and kosher
to say you don't understand
but this is for Holland-Dozier-Holland!"
His last words were... [chorus]

His fading words were... [chorus]

OK, I'll stop procrastinating and bothering you now.

Dr M Lynne Murphy
Lecturer in Linguistics
School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9QH

phone +44-(0)1273-678844
fax   +44-(0)1273-671320

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