LINGUIST List 2.204

Tuesday, 7 May 1991

Disc: Comparatives, Schools, Orthographies, Glottal Stop

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Guido Vanden Wyngaerd, Response: Comparatives
  2. , Phonology and Orthography
  3. , Re: Queries
  4. Joe Giampapa, Re: macrakis; vol.2,no.0203
  5. , Re: Glottal Stop

Message 1: Response: Comparatives

Date: Mon, 06 May 91 12:36:36 +0200
Subject: Response: Comparatives
Bert Peeters writes:
>1) "la voiture plus grosse" is not unacceptable if it means "the larger car"
> in a sentence such as "Les voitures plus grosses sont aussi inevitablement
> plus cheres" (Bigger cars are also inevitably more expensive)

The French determiner "les" is ambiguous between definite and indefinite.
For instance, (1) may be translated as either (2) or (3) in English:

(1) Les chats aiment le chocolat
(2) The cats like choclate
(3) Cats like choclate

In the example Bert gives, "les" is not the plural of the
definite article "la" (as in "*la voiture plus grosse") but the
plural of the indefinite article "une" (as in "une voiture plus

Guido Vanden Wyngaerd
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Message 2: Phonology and Orthography

Date: Mon, 6 May 91 09:52:33 PDT
From: <>
Subject: Phonology and Orthography
David (Birnbaum?) writes:

>... I agree that orthography may the
>perceptions of literate speakers, but orthography may not change to keep up
>with phonological change.

Yes and no. Obviously, a standardized orthography seldom changes, whereas
phonology is in constant flux. If we accept that the prototypical alphabet is
in 1-to-1 correspondence with phonemes, then it is inevitable that this 
primitive correspondence will disappear. However, the regularity of sound
change guarantees that some correspondence will always remain. So it is 
important to distinguish between "graphemes" (another term going back to
Baudouin) and "phonemes". The spelling rules that exist for current modern
Russian would be very difficult to explain if Russian phonology were as
Lightner proposed in the 60's or as Lunt seemed to propose in the 1978 article.

English spelling is probably about as bad as it can get for an alphabet. 
Nevertheless, there are still rules that tie letters to pronunciation. It
is still possible to "sound out" unfamiliar words. So I would say that 
even English is very much tied to the phonemic principle. Writers of the 
language expect letters and combinations of letters to correspond to 
phonological intuitions. Therefore, spelling should be a primary issue for
*theoretical* linguists to talk about. If your phonological theory doesn't
have much to say about spelling, then it probably doesn't have much to say
about phonology either.
 -Rick Wojcik (
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Message 3: Re: Queries

Date: Tue, 7 May 91 10:08 MST
From: <>
Subject: Re: Queries
To respnond to Karen Christie's query on Natve American languages;
quite a bunch of Native American languages are being formally taught at U.S.
colleges and Universities. The problem is to find out when and where, since these
programs don't always go on for a long time. Best places to ask are the University of New Mexico, and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (Alaska Native Language Center). There must be several others in Alaska, South Dakota, and 
Oklahoma. At the University of Arizona this summer, there will be the
American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), where a course on
The structure of a non-Western language (Navajo) will be taught by Irene
Silentman. For more information on AILDI, contact Ofelia Zepeda, Dept.
of Linguistics, University of Arizona, AZ 85721. Also, Ofelia regularly
teaches a course in O'odham (Papago) at that Dept.
Other good contact people are Pamela Munro, Dept. of Linguistics, UCLA;
also it's a good idea to read the newsletter of the Society of the Study for
the Indigenous Languages of the Americas, to subscribe, contact Victor
Golla, Dept. of Ethnic Studies, Humboldt State University, Arcata CA 95521.
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Message 4: Re: macrakis; vol.2,no.0203

Date: Tue, 7 May 91 16:13:10 +0200 (MET)
From: Joe Giampapa <>
Subject: Re: macrakis; vol.2,no.0203
In response to Stavros Macrakis' query:

 Is there any place with true bilingualism in schools?

that is, where two languages are dealt with on a more or less equal basis, with
subjects other than language and literature in each.

Yes, there is. A friend who is a part of the Boston (Massachusetts, USA)
Chinese Community, attended a bilingual high school. I believe it was Boston
Ringe Latin(??), in the Back Bay, which is a public school. To quote from the
memory of a conversation, "The Chinese part of the school was the better part.
We had all the high grades in science, history, mathematics, etc., and were the
majority of the National Honor Society members." They studied english as an
ESL (English as a Second Language) course.

I have also heard of international-oriented legal and business universities
in Italy, in which the students study all their subjects in (typically)
English. Unable to remember names, however.

-Joe Giampapa
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Message 5: Re: Glottal Stop

Date: Tue, 7 May 91 10:17 MST
From: <>
Subject: Re: Glottal Stop
to Rob Hoberman:
I am not sure this is surfacy enough for your purposes, but many Yuman lan-
guages such as Mojave contrast. #?V... with #V... To be sure, #V... often
shows up as #hV... in absolute initial position, but when preceded by any
other word, this h will not show up. The initial /?/ is always there.
This is as closest asI've actually heard. I think Polynesian languages 
might have such surface contrast (maybe Tahitian), but Polynesian specialists
can better comment on that.

[End Linguist List, Vol. 2, No. 204]
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