LINGUIST List 2.148

Friday, 19 Apr 1991

Disc: Intuition,Nonstandard,Subject-verb,Formal/funct,Flaming

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  1. Vicki Fromkin, Re: Intuition
  2. mark l louden, Dialect/Standard Pedagogical Programs
  3. , Subject-verb agreement
  4. , formal/functional linguistics
  5. , "Flaming"

Message 1: Re: Intuition

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 91 12:56 PDT
From: Vicki Fromkin <>
Subject: Re: Intuition
Michael Kac is right on re the two uses of 'intuition'. Substitute 'native
speaker's judgments re grammaticality of sentences etc' and one can see that
such 'intuitions' are data to be used as evidence in support of a particular
hypotheses or perhaps even more important data to be accounted for by
the theory. VAF
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Message 2: Dialect/Standard Pedagogical Programs

Date: Wed, 17 Apr 91 16:25:34 -0500
From: mark l louden <>
Subject: Dialect/Standard Pedagogical Programs
This is in response to Dick Hudson's request for information on dialect/
standard pedagogical programs. There is a series for teachers of German (to
Germans) entitled Dialekt:Hochsprache kontrastiv which is basically a
series of contrastive grammars (albeit very bare bones ones) which are intended
to make teachers more aware of dialect-speaking childrens' errors in Std.
German. The publisher is Paedagogischer Verlag Schwann in Duesseldorf. Each
volume deals with one general dialect area (e.g. Bavarian, Hessian, etc.) It's
a very progressive way of thinking about teaching German, but I have no idea
to what extent these and similar materials are actually used in Germany. Ideas
such as these seem almost trivially self-evident to linguists when thinking
about teaching, especially sociolinguists, but the educational establishment
as a whole is often not so enlightened. Despite the considerable body of
excellent work here in the US on Black English, much of it has remained
unused by elementary and secondary school teachers of English. I for one
would recommend a course in socioling. for *every* teacher. The 'inconvenience'
(to put it mildly) of linguistic prescriptivism in education is as
present today as it was way when Saussure was teaching beginning linguistics.

Mark L. Louden
Dept. of Germanic Languages
U of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712
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Message 3: Subject-verb agreement

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 91 12:42 GMT
Subject: Subject-verb agreement
Thank you to everyone who has sent me information on subject verb agreement in
Arabic and elsewhere, both through Linguist and directly. I have responses to
a couple of the messages:
For Steve Harlow,
I was aware of the Irish/Welsh/Breton facts; Irish is not a particularly good
example of the pronoun/full NP distinction in agreement because, whereas null
subjects have obligatory agreement, both overt pronouns and full NPs do not.
The Welsh and Breton cases however are very similar to Belfast English. I have
a few questions about Welsh&Breton which you (or someone else) may be able to
give me some information on

What happens with co-ordinated pronouns? In Belfast English, co-ordinated
pronouns need not have agreement, whereas in general pronouns must

(1) *They is always fighting
(2) Us and them is always fighting
However, if the pronouns have nominative case they must have agreement
(3) *We and they is always fighting

Secondly, what happens where the pronoun is part of a larger NP? The Belfast
facts are

(4) Us students is definitely going
(5)*We students is definitely going

Thirdly, what about demonstratives? In Belfast English these don't have
obligatory agreement

(6) These is cracked


For those who commented on 'There is + plural NP' in various varieties of
This also occurs in Belfast English. I suspect however that it is a different
phenomenon from the type of example discussed above because
(a) it allows inversion, whereas other cases of non-agreement do not

(7) Is there any eggs?
(8)*Is the eggs cracked?

and it allows non-agreement with personal pronouns, which otherwise is

(8) There was only us
(9)*We is going

Many thanks again for all the messages received - further comments most welcome

Alison Henry
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Message 4: formal/functional linguistics

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 91 13:00 GMT
Subject: formal/functional linguistics
I have been following the debates in Linguist between proponents of different
approaches to linguistic theory, and have been wondering why some of this
debate makes me uneasy. I have decided that the reason is as follows. This
kind of debate often seems to impy that there is only one proper way to do
linguistics. If this were accepted, it seems to me that we would have created
in our discipline exactly the king of situation which Chomsky and others have
criticised in society in general - where people are allowed to question
issues within a given framework, but not the underlying assumptions of the
framework itself. Thus whereas I am convince that the 'formal' approach
provides the best theoretical approach, I think linguistics would be a lot
poorer if people weren't free to pursue possible alternative theories which
question its basic assumptions - does anybody agree?
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Message 5: "Flaming"

Date: Thu, 18 Apr 91 17:04:43 GMT+0100
From: <>
Subject: "Flaming"
Lee Hartman suggests that net dialog on newsgroups fails (degenerates
into "flaming") because it lacks the immediate and non-verbal feedback
of oral discussion and the tradition of rhetorical signals of written
publication. No doubt true, but I suggest that a deeper problem is
the lack of a real `discourse community'.

Unlike informal conversation or print publication, newsgroup
contributers are not acculturated or selected, and cannot be excluded
or punished. High turnover doesn't help: flaming seems to peak at the
beginning of the academic year, when new users join.... And those who
are unhappy with the flaming can either try to discourage it
(participating in and incurring further flaming), or ignore it (which
doesn't help), or leave the group (which reduces the number of
`reasonable' people). In brief, none of the mechanisms which tend to
stabilize a discourse community appear to be present.

The above is valid for newsgroups. But even private E-mail seems to
have more than its share of misunderstandings. I hypothesize that
this is particularly true for those who have never met in person. In
person, they would perhaps have decided that the other's `style' was
so foreign that there was no point in trying to talk at all....


Stavros Macrakis
Open Software Foundation Research Institute

Mail: 2 av de Vignate, 38610 Gieres (Grenoble), France
Net: or or
Phone: +33/ Fax: +33/

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