Thursday, September 24, 2015

Goodbye, Yogi

“Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good, too.”

Yogi Berra died yesterday. Here's the NY Times obituary. He was a heckuva ballplayer, including 3 Most Valuable Player awards, and a heckuva person, even if he was a Yankee.

He's well known for his sayings - people keep talking about "mangled syntax" but there's no mangling of syntax here, everything is accurate and grammatical. What's "wrong" - but right - turns on polysemy, the property words have of multiple meanings, and on reference - in "Always go to other people’s funerals; otherwise they won’t go to yours." just who does "they" refer to? Or in "It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.", who is "everybody"?

A few more:
If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.

Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.

You can observe a lot by watching.

If you come to a fork in the road, take it.

It’s déjà vu all over again.

Ninety percent of the game is half mental.

The future ain’t what it used to be.

Ben Zimmer looks at the language, and here's the baseball.

And one more note: he supported gay athletes: "Respect the game, respect others -- that's what I always learned in sports. Whatever background or whatever you are, it doesn't matter. Treat everyone the same, that's how it should be." That one's not funny, nor hard to parse.

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