Linguistically violating Commonsense

Linguistically, common sense can be violated at 3 fundamental levels – 

  1. Cells contain cytoplasm

Here, the words ‘cells’ and ‘cytoplasm’ aren’t common sense. 

There is no uncommonsensicalness otherwise i.e. at the connectionist level i.e. the way the elements connect to each other. The sentence simply says that ‘A contains B’. We all know and understand things of this format which make common sense.

  1. (a) John is Jack’s uncle’s 2nd cousin’s maternal aunt’s brother’s 2nd cousin.

Here the words are all common sense. They are simple and familiar – names of people, uncle, maternal aunt, brother etc.

But the way the data elements connect to each other (John and Jack) is uncommonsensical because it’s too complicated.

Hence the sentence is uncommonsensical at the level of connectionism in the sense of sheer complicatedness.

       2)   (b) i) I was playing the water. 

       ii) I was playing the pen.

Here also, the elements are familiar (commonsensical) – playing, water, pen. The way they connect with each other is also simple i.e. not complicated. Hence, commonsensical, in that sense too.

But the way the elements connect with each other, at the semantic level is uncommonsensical. The way they connect with each other in the sense of naturalness/oddness is uncommonsensical. 

Both these sentences are odd and uncommonsensical since you can play the piano or a drum but not a pen or water. But these sentences can be force-fittedly made to make sense. You can hold a pen at an end, in one hand and keep hitting it with the other hand and thereby generate sound, thus creating music and hence ‘play the pen’. Similarly, with water in a bucket.

Note : Every sentence which makes mere grammatical sense can be made to make sense in some force-fitted way. 

3) Obvious combinatorial derivatives of the above. 

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