LINGUIST List 2.233

Friday, 17 May 1991

Disc: African, Analogy, Acronyms, Colourless, Hyouston

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. "ELISE EMERSON MORSE-GAGNE", survival or not of African languages among slaves
  2. , analogy
  3. , Ritvo
  4. Ellen Prince, correction: parse of the family name 'katz'
  5. William J. Rapaport, Colourless green ideas
  6. Ellen Prince, Re: Queries

Message 1: survival or not of African languages among slaves

Date: 9 May 91 22:36:00 EST
Subject: survival or not of African languages among slaves
Bill Eldridge wonders why no African languages survived in view of the 
policy against slaves studying English. I am certainly no expert on
this and I hope someone who is will enlighten me further, but a few
First, it is not quite safe to say there wsa NO survival, in view of the
continuing debate over whether Gullah is an African/English creole, and
also over what features of modern (especially Southern) American-as-spoken-
by-white-people are the result of influence from African phonological
systems, lexicon, and even morphological systems.
Second, the lack of a surviving explicit policy forbidding the speaking of
African languages does not necessarily mean that it would have been per-
mitted, although it is true that it suggests the issue perhaps had not
Third, if by "survival" you mean "survival to the present", I don't know
of any other immigrant groups which have maintained their original languages
for as much as three or four generations, let alone for 150-200 years. But
perhaps you mean that no records of survival even into the second generation
Finally, I believe that it's crucial to remember that the slaves (a) did not allsome from the same area and speak the same language (and to speak of "African"
as a cover term for all the languages they did speak, as I did above, is
misleading), and (b) did not all come directly to the States from Africa.
The entire process was a long and tortuous one, rather than a simple carting
of boatloads of people straight from point A to point B, and one result was
that people with widely differing backgrounds and languages ended up together--
and maybe no one African language would serve them, whereas English was
more or less equally available to everyone as a lingua franca or a model for
--or lexical warehouse for--a pidgin, which would then converge more and
more on English as the only consistently available language, even if slaves
weren't supposed to learn English.
This, coming from a non-creolist and a non-Black English specialist, is
offered in hopes that someone else will have more to say, as I mentioned.
--Elise Morse-Gagne
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Message 2: analogy

Date: Mon, 13 May 91 14:43:09 CST
From: <huttarmunnari.oz>
Subject: analogy
 In reply to Uwe Hauck's query of April 25: a useful starting point 
 might be Gary A. Klein, "Applications of Analaogical Reasoning" in 
 *Metaphor and Symbolic Activity*, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 201-218 (1987).
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Message 3: Ritvo

Date: Mon, 13 May 91 11:53 EST
From: <>
Subject: Ritvo
As an addendum to Ellen Prince's general remarks about Jewish 
acrostic names, Ritvo is short for resh yod tet bet aleph (-aleph)
and stands for Rabbi Yom Tov Ben Avraham-Ishvili, an early 14th
century commentator born in the Spanish city of Shvil and known to
us as Seville.

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Message 4: correction: parse of the family name 'katz'

Date: Wed, 15 May 91 07:57:26 -0400
From: Ellen Prince <>
Subject: correction: parse of the family name 'katz'

------- Forwarded Message

Date: Wed, 15 May 91 00:57:57 -0500
From: (Daniel Radzinski)
Subject: yr. message in LINGUIST

As far as I know, "Katz" stands for 'kohen tzedek' in the construct form
(smixut) "a priest of justice", rather than 'kohen tzadik' (N + Modifier)
as you indicated in your recent posting.

- -- Daniel

------- End of Forwarded Message
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Message 5: Colourless green ideas

Date: Wed, 15 May 91 09:53:32 EDT
From: William J. Rapaport <rapaportcs.Buffalo.EDU>
Subject: Colourless green ideas
Two poems:

 for Noam Chomsky

Curiously deep, the slumber of crimson thoughts:
 While breathless, in stodgy viridian,
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.

 - John Hollander, _The Night Mirror_ (Atheneum Publishers, 1971)
 (reprinted in G. Harman, _Noam Chomsky_ (NY: Doubleday Anchor)


Colorless green ideas sleep furiously
in the fan-shaped eyes, that welcomed
only the color of the relevant world,
wearing a face of man,

their green (in violent sleep, the nightmare
day) draining to white or vagueness
in a stretch of fear.

Address yourself, Ideas, to sleep.
Furiously sleep, Ideas, green, colorless,
involved in green, careless of responsibility.

Let all fury, entangled with your grammar,
be a colorless green.

 - Sister Mary Jonathan, O.P., in _College English_ 26(1965)
 ("Sister Jonathan teaches senior English at Dominican High
 School in Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin")
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Message 6: Re: Queries

Date: Thu, 16 May 91 08:15:08 -0400
From: Ellen Prince <>
Subject: Re: Queries
>From: Peter Gingiss <ENGLADJetson.UH.EDU>
>Subject: Houston and words like it 
>I am interested in the pronunciaton of words like "huge" and "humid." I plan
>to get down to serious research this summer. In "Youston," Texas there are a
>few natives who pronounce these words with just the /y/(at least some of the

i'm not a phonologist, only a native brooklynite, so here are a few esoteric
facts known only to 8+ million people:

in ny, i grew up saying /yusten/ texas but /hawsten/ street (a street
in manhattan). other items i pronounced with /yu/ (no h) were: humid(ity),
humor(ous), huge, human, humane, humanity, humiliate.

but usually with an h (hyu...): hue and cry, lake huron.

for all the above, there was in fact variation. however, there was a brand of
ice cream, sold from little white trucks, called 'good humor'. this was
categorically /yumer/. (the /r/ of course was not pronounced unless there was a
following vowel.) to me, 'good hyumer', WITH an h, can only mean 'good cheer',
NEVER the ice cream. 

hope this is useful.

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