I used to be a normal psycholinguistics graduate student. I wanted to study how the mind parses improbable metaphors, unintelligible accents, and quirky syntax. Sexy things. Things that would play out well at parties. I imagined myself magnanimously explaining how sentences like “The bartender served the bourbon fell down the stairs” were truly grammatical. I imagined myself dropping newspaper headlines like “Iraqi Head Seeks Arms” into conversations with beautiful people. I would defend Internet chatroom slang on local radio. I would exchange holiday cards with Steven Pinker.
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