LINGUIST List 2.157

Tuesday, 23 Apr 1991

Disc: Flaming, Kanji, Tense

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , flaming and the discourse community
  2. "Hi, 'lo", query on kanji
  3. Jan Olsen, Tense in HEADLINES

Message 1: flaming and the discourse community

Date: Fri, 19 Apr 91 16:07 EST
From: <>
Subject: flaming and the discourse community
Stavros Macrakis' hypothesis sounds plausible. A very tentative
test is provided by at least one list in which flaming is absent:
IOUDAIOS. Since the number of scholars in this field (100 B.C.-
100 A.D.) is very small and since everyone knows everyone else,
the level of discourse is high and courtesy reigneth.

In point of fact, ain't much wrong with this list.

Norman Miller
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Message 2: query on kanji

Date: Mon, 22 Apr 1991 10:57 EST
From: "Hi, 'lo" <>
Subject: query on kanji
Does anyone out there know of programs for an IBM-type 286 or 386 with VGA
monitor that will, among other things, convert romaji to kanji and display it
legibly on the screen? Please send me e-mail, either at the above address or


Susan Fischer
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Message 3: Tense in HEADLINES

Date: Mon, 22 Apr 91 18:43:22 +0200
From: Jan Olsen <>
Subject: Tense in HEADLINES
Here are some rather strange facts about the tense system of German 

(1) If the headlines contains a transitive verb, a present tense verb
 form may be understood to refer to an event in the immediate past.
 German differs from English insofar as past tense would be okay 
 as well, but present tense seems to be preferred, especially in
 quality newspapers such as Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(2) If the headline contains a verb that forms its perfect tense form
 with the auxiliary sein (be), you have to use the perfect participle
 if you want to report a recent event. So
 Bush zurueckgetreten (Bush resigned perfect part.) indicates that
 Bush resigned yesterday, while
 Bush tritt zurueck (Bush resigns) means that he will do so in the 
 near future
(3) If the headline contains an intransitive verb that forms perfect
 tense with haben (have) it seems to be nearly impossible to express
 reference to a recent event
 Space Shuttle funktioniert (Space Shuttle works)
 cannot mean that it worked yesterday (but is out of order today). Adding
 a negation does not help, so
 Space Shuttle funktioniert nicht 
 implies it is still out of order
 It is ungrammatical to use the participle alone, and a past tense form
 of funktionieren as in
 Space Shuttle funktionierte nicht
 seems to imply a reading in which the article is a follow up
(4) The STRANGE thing is that we get a completely different picture when
 a PP or some other non-selected XP is added to the headline. Here are
 some examples:
 Kind stirbt (child does) means: the child is going to die
 Kind stirbt an Ueberdosis Heroin (child dies from overdosis heroine)
 tells you what happened yesterday. 
 Another example, now with a haben-verb:
 Space Shuttle versagt wegen defekter Diskette
 (Space Shuttle fails because of malfunctioning floppy disk)
 again may report a recent event
(5) If you do not omit the auxiliary werden (be) from a passive headline, 
 a near-future interpretation of the present tense form seems to be
 mandatory (or an eternal-truth reading)
 Papst erschossen (Pope shot) : yesterday
 Papst wird erschossen (Pope is shot) : tomorrow
 Papst wird wegen Geburtenkontrolle von CIA erschossen 
 (Pope is because_of birth control by CIA shot): tomorrow
 Notice the difference between (2)-(4) and (5)

I have got the impression this is different in Dutch, Italian or Spanish
headlines, which I had a look at. (2) seems to be out in these languages
(i.e. with reference to the recent past).

Comments would be extremely welcome.

 Gisbert Fanselow, Theoretical Linguistics
 University of Passau
 P.O. Box 2540
 D - 8390 Passau
 West Germany

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