The two mutually reinforcing ulterior motives that we Language Log writers share are (i) to have a bit of fun writing about language in ways that are not necessarily all that serious, and (ii) to slide in little bits of genuine public education about the cognitive and linguistic sciences to which we devote our time when we're at our day jobs. I have the same twin motives in the writing I do for Lingua Franca on the website of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Often, being me, I let the fun side predominate, and there's a lot more of humorous hyperbole and (let's face it) outright fantasy than there is of the cognitive and linguistic sciences. While Victor Mair sweats over sheets of Chinese characters and Mark Liberman generates graphs to see if the results of refereed papers can be replicated from reprocessed raw data, I just play. There's no linguistics at all in a piece like "I Wish I'd Said That", though it is sort of basically about language; and something similar is true for quite a few other posts listed on my reference page of Lingua Franca posts. But in today's piece, for once, everything I say is completely true, and I actually try to teach a tiny bit about syntactic ambiguity. And my reward was swift and cold: the compilers of the daily email newsletter through which The Chronicle points its subscribers to what they can find today on the web refused to include a pointer to my piece.
They "didn't get it", I'm told. So I got dumped from the newsletter, cutting the traffic back to a trickle. This hardly ever happens to us at Lingua Franca. You can't win, can you? A serious little lesson about syntactic bracketing and complex modifier structure (as well as about the composition of putatively organic preserves, jams, jellies, and spreads), and they just cut me out of the advertising. Sigh.
I'm thinking of going back to random trivial nonsense. If I could just think some up. (Yes, I know, you're thinking "He's never had much trouble coming up with random trivial nonsense before." Thank you. I do appreciate your support.)