LINGUIST List 2.279

Monday, 10 June 1991

Qs: Agreement, writing, terminology, borrowed pronouns

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  1. Jan Olsen, Queries: agreement, spelling
  2. , Terminological question
  3. "ELISE EMERSON MORSE-GAGNE", query--borrowed pronouns

Message 1: Queries: agreement, spelling

Date: Thu, 6 Jun 91 21:17:26 +0200
From: Jan Olsen <olsen%unipas.fmi.uni-passau.deRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: Queries: agreement, spelling
I'm wondering if there are any spoken languages in which the verb has to
agree with its indirect object, but must not agree with the direct object.
(If I'm not mistaken, this is true for ASL-clauses with verbs such as GIVE).
Furthermore, I'd like to know what different types of strategies languages
use when there are not enough formal means to express the agreement relations
which are obligatory from a syntax point of view. What I have in mind is
something like the situation we find in Georgian (cf. Stephen Anderson's
paper in NLLT 1984): V has to agree with SU, DO and IO, but there are only
two slots for agreement suffixes. For 3rd person DOs, this does not create
a problem since the pertinent suffix is phonologically empty. If a clause
contains a SU and an IO, 1st and 2nd person DOs must be replaced by a
possessive pronoun + tavi (_head_), a construction which is 3rd person
from a formal point of view and therefore helps to solve the agreement

And now something completely different:
Many writing systems use double letters to represent e.g. vowel length. Are
there any writing systems which use triple letters? I'm not thinking of
Dutch cases such as zeeen, where the third e belongs to a different morpheme.
Are there writing systems which systematically reduplicate letters to
express plurality - as in Spanish abbreviations such as EEUU (estados unidos)?


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Message 2: Terminological question

Date: Fri, 7 Jun 91 10:28 EDT
Subject: Terminological question
Russian-language descriptions of Cyrillic orthography, particularly in medieval
manuscripts, have a special term (neprikrytyj; literally "uncovered") to refer
to vowel letters that are not preceded by consonant letters. Does anyone know
whether there is a suitable English-language equivalent for this term?

I should emphasize that this is an orthographic, rather than linguistic,
question, since vowel letters do not necessarily correspond to vowel sounds.
But a weak linguistic analogy would be a term that identifies syllables with no


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Message 3: query--borrowed pronouns

Date: 9 Jun 91 16:21:00 EST
From: "ELISE EMERSON MORSE-GAGNE" <morsegag%ucs.indiana.eduRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: query--borrowed pronouns
I am working on the adoption of the Scandinavian 3pl
pronouns into English in the Middle Ages. I would be very
interested to learn of any other instances of pronoun
borrowing (transfer, etc.), whether between closely related
or unrelated dialects/languages. I have Parker's
dissertation discussing Westfoehring, and have heard that
there may be a S American language which has borrowed
Spanish pronouns, but can't track down the reference. Any
Elise Morse-Gagne

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