LINGUIST List 2.129

Wednesday, 11 Apr 1991

Disc: Newsletter, Tone, Mother of, Banned lgs, and more

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , California Linguistic Newsletter and Tsou
  2. Robert D Hoberman, More on "Mother of Battles"
  3. Murvet Enc, banned languages
  4. "JIM WILCE, ", Re: Queries: Marking of Emotion in tone languages
  5. "Evan Antworth", SIL software (IT, Shoebox, etc.)
  6. , Language Families

Message 1: California Linguistic Newsletter and Tsou

Date: 9 Apr 91 09:52 EST
From: <>
Subject: California Linguistic Newsletter and Tsou
(1) California Linguistic Newsletter -- the editor is Alan Kaye,
Dept. of Ling., Cal. State U. Fullerton, Fullerton, CA 92634. (You'll
probably get a hundred or so replies to this one.)

(2) Tsou -- For information about Tsou and other Formosan languages,
the first person I would ask would be Stanley Starosta, Dept. of
Ling., U. of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822.

Paul Chapin, NSF
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Message 2: More on "Mother of Battles"

Date: Tue, 9 Apr 1991 14:12 EDT
From: Robert D Hoberman <>
Subject: More on "Mother of Battles"
In Ellen Spolsky's April 8 discussion of the metaphoric (mis)understandings of 
Saddam's "mother of battles" (incidentally, first name, or 
title-plus-first-name, is one perfectly ordinary way to address someone in 
Arabic; Hussein is not a family name but his father's given name) she mentions 
my observations on "mother of" and "father of" terms in the Arabic dictionary. 
I wish to add only that I'm not at all sure that the "mother" or "father" part 
of these expressions is, in Arabic, still much of a metaphor. Metaphors do 
die; often relation and body-part terms become grammaticalized. For instance, 
in modern Aramaic the preposition "on" is a transparent derivative of "head", 
but all the metaphorical baggage that might be associated with heads does not 
accompany every use of "on". I have been called, in Arabic, "father of 
moustache", which does not suggest that I have many, or the largest, or the 
ancestor of other moustaches, but only that I have one; something like "the guy 
with the moustache". What we, as linguists, can contribute to the 
understanding of Saddam's expression is to investigate the range and meanings 
of such expressions in Arabic. (The interpretations English speakers have 
applied to the English translation of Saddam's expression are the topic of an 
entirely separate investigation. They seem to me to be analogous to President 
Bush's apparently intentional mispronunciation of Saddam's name as Sadd'm.) 
One question for which I would like to see an answer is, why does Wehr's 
Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic list more expressions with "mother" than 
with "father"? Is this preponderance true of the language, or an accident of 
the (very large) corpus that Wehr examined? What factors determine the choice 
of "mother" or "father"? And do the "mother of X" and "father of Y" schemata 
have the same range of functions?

Robert Hoberman
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Message 3: banned languages

Date: Tue, 9 Apr 91 16:51 CDT
From: Murvet Enc <>
Subject: banned languages
This is in response to the request for information on banned languages. The
Turkish government had banned Kurdish until very recently. It was, in fact,
during the Gulf war that they rescinded the ban. (Not unreasonable to think
that they could predict that the issue might come up in the near future in
discussion about the plight of Kurds.) What is interesting is that the Turkish
government, as far as I know, outlawed Kurdish while at the same time claiming
that there were no Kurds in Turkey, only 'Mountain Turks'. Not bothered by
trivial contradictions.
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Message 4: Re: Queries: Marking of Emotion in tone languages

Date: Tue, 09 Apr 91 22:14 PDT
From: "JIM WILCE, " <>
Subject: Re: Queries: Marking of Emotion in tone languages
In response to Cari Spring's query on studies of linguistic marking of emotion
in tonal languages, Judith Irvine (Dept. of Anthropology, Brandeis University)
would be a good source. She has investigated affect marking in Wolof, a "Niger
-Congo" language (Comrie) which I assume is tonal.

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Message 5: SIL software (IT, Shoebox, etc.)

Date: Wed, 10 Apr 91 15:16:48 CDT
From: "Evan Antworth" <>
Subject: SIL software (IT, Shoebox, etc.)
There have been several postings recently about programs developed
by the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL), including IT (Interlinear
Text Processor) and Shoebox (a linguistic data mangagement program).
While it is not of general interest to respond here in detail to all the
points raised in these postings, I would like to inform readers that 
some of us in the Academic Computing Department of SIL in Dallas,
Texas are reading Linguist List and are available to answer questions
and requests for information about SIL software. One caution: SIL is a
very large, international organization and many entities and individual
working under its auspices have developed (and continue to develop) 
software. This means that we can only speak authoritatively for the
software that our department is directly responsible for; but we will
certainly try to help in any way we can.

Two points of immediate relevance: first, the author of the IT program, 
Gary Simons, is head of our department and is of course the local expert 
on the program. The programmer who did the Macintosh version of IT, 
John Thomson, also works here. And second, although Shoebox is not a 
product of our department, its author, John Wimbish is currently working 

We can also answer queries about other software including RAP, WORDSURV, 
AMPLE, STAMP, PC-KIMMO, and ITF. I will also submit to the listserver a 
bibliography of our computing publications.

Since not all of the people here have email accounts, I will
receive your queries and direct them to the proper person. 

Evan Antworth
Academic Computing Department
Summer Institute of Linguistics
7500 W. Camp Wisdom Road
Dallas, TX 75236

phone: 214/709-2418
fax: 214/709-3387

P.S. One clarification regarding IT. Someone said that it can only handle
text of forty lines or so. This is incorrect. There is a limit of eighty
lines per unit of text, e.g. a sentence, but there is no limit on the
number of units (sentences) in a text. 
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Message 6: Language Families

Date: Wed, 10 Apr 91 11:41:02 EDT
From: <>
Subject: Language Families
In response to Herb Stahlke's very illuminating comments re: Greenberg's
classification of African languages, I would only point out that here
again we are dealing with a difference between the African and the
American situation. Unless I am mistaken, Greenberg (in addition
to proposing certain very large families, whose existence may be
difficult to establish or refute) also rectified a number of errors
of classification which were quite easy to verify, in the African
case. Now, again unless I am mistaken, his subclassification of
Amerind does not have the same status. I know of no instance where
he tells us something about manageable groups of languages that could
quickly be checked by a comparativist. Many of his groupings are
in fact what has been suspected all along. Thus, unlike in the African
case, Greenberg's Americanist work appears to take hypotheses that
are not particularly controversial qua hypotheses and proclaim as 
gospel truth. Yet precisely because many of these hypotheses have
been around for a while and have no been definitely adjudicated,
it seems to Americanist comparativists that he has not really told
us much. And in those cases where he does propose something new
(e.g., his Central Amerind), it is still no easier to decide if
he is right. The languages are extremely divergent and the state of
reconstruction for the component families usually lamentable.

Re: Body part loan words, I would like to thank the person who
sent in the list of Welsh borrowings from Latin (unfortunately,
the return address part of their message was missing when it
was posted on LINGUIST). If more examples come my way, I
will compile a list and post it. 

[End Linguist List, Vol. 2, No. 129]
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