Woody outside the syntactic box

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Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona has now reached Edinburgh, and made a wonderful movie for a Valentine's Day date yesterday. (A wonderful film, too; the whole script is interesting and intelligent as well as funny and appealing, and Penelope Cruz's electric, chew-up-the-scenery portrayal of a deranged artist is incredible — near Oscar level.) But what a strange syntactic move Woody made in naming the picture. The three names are just concatenated: Vicky is one of the girls, Cristina is the other, and Barcelona is the city where most of the the action is located. There's absolutely no grammatical warrant for that at all. For example, although you can interpret Celery, apples, walnuts, grapes as an asyndetic coordination (a conjunction without an overt and), the commas are obligatory in written English: *Celery apples walnuts grapes is not grammatical at all. And similarly, it would be possible to interpret Vicky, Cristina, Barcelona as a coordination with three coordinates; but the string Vicky Cristina Barcelona doesn't have that privilege. It's got the written-English syntax of a single personal name. (Dougal Stanton, here in Edinburgh, noticed
today that the people running the Cameo on Home Street were confused enough to abbreviate it to "Vicky C. Barcelona" on their large signs — exactly as if it were somebody's name.) Woody is thinking right outside of the syntactic box. (Which is OK, of course, for an artist. This is an observation about innovative syntax, not a correction or a criticism.)

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