Hyperlinks Might Be Adjectives (1)

These three sentences are very different sentences:

  • I think he really enjoyed the parade.
  • I think he really enjoyed the parade.
  • I think he really enjoyed the parade.

Why and so what?  Defend your answers in the comments.

23 thoughts on “Hyperlinks Might Be Adjectives (1)

  1. Depends on its use in a text. Sometimes it’s:

    parade like this (preposition)
    this particular parade (adjective)
    parade in this city (preposition)
    parade and other parades like it (conjunction)
    parade, which reminds me (relative pronoun)
    And parade (metacomment on my thought processes, which I guess would be parenthesis)

  2. Definitely they’re three different sentences.

    You’re illustrating that online language is interactive. There is an expectation that the reader must take an action to fully understand the idea(s) the writer is trying to convey.

    It’s kind of like footnotes of old, but with clicking instead of flipping to the page bearing the citation…

  3. Yes, in that the link modifies the noun. But not in the familiar sense, where the modifier’s own meaning is apparent in the sentence’s context. In these three sentences, the modifiers look exactly the same; it’s not until the reader interacts with the text by clicking on or rolling over the link that the modification starts to show its shy/sneaky little face. The modification is buried down a level (or more), and its meaning remains dormant until or unless the reader catalyzes a reaction by acting on the hyperlink. Because the adjectival function is once-removed, there’s no guarantee that the reader will click, or that the reading will go beyond the sentence’s “original” or “neutral” unmodified meaning—whatever that means. In the absence of the clarity provided by the click (the big adjectival reveal!), the reader will plug in whatever connotation of “parade” comes naturally, I suppose.

    Which raises what was probably your question in the first place: If a word is hyperlinked but no one clicks it, was its meaning really changed?

    Sweet puzzle.

    Scott Schwisters last blog post..letter from camp 2.0

  4. Your choices for links highlight the importance of creating context. I still think links are a strange combination of things. What was it? A subjunctive adjeverb, maybe. Urging the reader to look further, descriptive, and yet dependent on action. Thanks for furthering your ideas on this.

  5. I’m not sure I would describe these links as adjectives, but they definitely are effective in terms of tone and pathos.

    Thanks for putting this up. I think it really illustrates the need for why we need to teach all forms of communication.

  6. Ok, I am a terrible writer and notetaker but I feel like when a hyperlink is added to a document you go from very surface writing/reading to very deep, descriptive authoring! It’s the 2009 (ok, really it started long before that but you get what I am saying) version of the 1940s TECHNOCOLOR!

  7. You will have to excuse me for being the crank, but, Bud, but the reduction of the associative power of a hyperlink to a part of speech just leaves me … with a headache.
    I guess I understand the cruz of the message here, but (in my view) nothing pushes a writer more away from creative content than analyzing their writing in terms of parts of speech (even though I do so with my students, as expected by my school district and our state tests — I try to get as creative as I can).
    Still, thanks for getting me thinking.
    Peace
    Kevin

    Kevin Hodgsons last blog post..Audio Letters to the New President

  8. Hyperlinks generally answer a question about the word being hyperlinked (who, what, when, where, why, how, or context). I’m not sure that there’s a single syntaxic component that does that.

  9. Bud,

    You’ve got me thinking about this for two days now. Gonna have another go at this discussion.

    Trying to assign a concrete part of speech to something as ethereal as a hyperlink is analogous to trying to pin down a cloud. In the example above you use the noun “parade” and, while it’s clear to the reader that “parade” may not be what it is at simple face value, there is no word or descriptor there to identify, define, or otherwise assist the reader. Instead, an action is required of the reader in order to determine the exact meaning of each of those sentences.

    Going back to my earlier comment that a link is more of a function like a superscript for a footnote, there is one huge difference. A footnote operates on the same principles as printed text in that it does not change, whereas a link can change at a whim, bad connection, or maxed-out broadband width. Not to mention that the site(s) to which the link may bring the reader may have absolutely nothing to do with the word as it is written or appears in the text.

    Adjectives typically don’t change either – the reader may assume that the author said what he means and means what he said – at least 99% of the time. If you’re suggesting that links function in the same way, in terms of modifying a noun, then I don’t think the logic follows.

    Your observations here are profound. I believe we are really talking about systems of language that exist on separate planes. Our physical beings have to catch up to (and define, it appears) the digital world.

    Am I way off base? I’m seeing your suggestion as similar to non-Euclidean geometric concepts (for lack of a better analogy).

    Thanks for the mental workout.

  10. Interesting. I hovered over the links and read the destination before clicking them. Wonder what THAT says about me.

    Linguistics was my favorite class in grad school. Post this discussion in that realm, stand back, and watch the fun.

  11. At first glance, it makes sense – hyperlinks are adjectives, they describe/clarify. OK, cool. Now what? It’s hard to see you going in any direction from here except for trying to teach hyperlinks using the “hyperlinks = adjectives” method, and I don’t think this analogy would make sense on a beginner level…it’s more of a thought exercise for advanced users.

  12. The way you have this structured, hyperlinks could also be adverbs.

    What if we reversed the analogy the next time we teach parts of speech: adjectives are *like* hyperlinks that alter our understanding of a noun or pronoun? Adverbs are *like* hyperlinks that alter our understanding of verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs?

    Would that help students understand that reading and writing are both interactive, digital or not? Hmmm …

    Carla Beards last blog post..From the e-mail inbox

  13. Richard pointed out another important way in which hyperlinks can function as adjectives. (Sometimes.) That’s a clue for what comes next.

    Lots of great thoughts here, y’all. I think there’s power in talking about language and its function – and I also think that the overly simplistic labels that we use for words can get us into trouble if we apply them entirely too strictly.

    But sometimes they’re helpful.

  14. Bud, your advice to not apply simplistic labels “entirely too strictly,” takes me back to when my daughter was studying a practice list of possible SAT vocabulary words. The list was a hard copy her English teacher had provided, complete with pronunciation(s), definitions(s), and part(s) of speech.

    After explaining to my daughter that memorizing the part of speech might not be good use of time since, depending the context, “parade,” for instance, could be a noun, adjective, or verb, I rethought how I taught parts of speech to my 5th grade students. From then on, we had a parts-of-speech challenge as part of DOL. Working with pencil and paper, students teamed to transform the word of the day into as many parts of speech as the rest of the class would accept as correct usage. They “got” parts of speech.

    Would love to revisit this 5th grade exercise, probably via a wiki, with students using hyperlinks to make visible the word context.

    Thanks for a fun topic:-)

    Gail Deslers last blog post..Picturing Words

  15. I think a fourth sentence without a hyperlink would be good addition to the example.

    As a reader, I would try not to assume the link is part of the sentence. How do I know the link was added by the author?

    If I was to make that assumption, it would not be part of speech but of context. (Let me know if context is a part of speech.) Similar examples could be other sentences in the paragraph or pictures on the page.

  16. I think this is a very unique way to explore hyperlinks. Has this been shown to students? Any reactions good/bad? My Multi-Modal class did a human simulation of a hyperlink. In a hallway, we were placed in a straight line. Our professor would start at the first person reading some type of made up sentence. Then after reaching the third person, he would make that person a link and skip a few people in line to go to the linked page. Then he might jump back to the third page and so on. I like new ideas that get students out of their seats!

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