This post has a very good point. Both about syntax and how linguistics happens to people. I quote:
No, don’t be shocked that syntax could be on my mind on such an occasion [mother’s funeral]. A linguist’s brain does not cease making linguistic observations on entering a crematorium chapel. As I recently explained in a piece over at Lingua Franca, linguistics is not a task that one takes up only as necessary; it is more like a kind of affliction, making the afflicted person incapable of not noticing points of interest in linguistic material.