LINGUIST List 2.330

Sunday, 30 June 1991

Disc: Threats, Orthography, Tone, Bilingual, IO

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Geoffrey Russom, Re: Responses: Threats
  2. stan kulikowski ii, re: orthography and reading
  3. , voice quality in tone languages; writing triple letters
  4. Ian Smith, Re: Bilingual Dialogues
  5. bert peeters, Indirect object agreement

Message 1: Re: Responses: Threats

Date: Tue, 25 Jun 91 11:34:15 EDT
From: Geoffrey Russom <>
Subject: Re: Responses: Threats
It seems to me that politeness adds weight to a threat only to the
extent that a sudden shift to "good manners" indicates seriousness of
purpose -- a break out of a casual or friendly mode indicating that the
relationship has become adversarial. Such a maneuver is less useful
when there is a severe time constraint and the adversarial nature of the
relationship needs no special emphasis. On the cop shows, somebody trying
to get an antagonist to drop the gun tends to shout a curt command or
threat. I don't think even bobbies would be laid-back enough to say,
"please drop the gun, sir" if the issue were in doubt. On the home front,
when a child is just on the point of making a move that a parent doesn't
like, the parent is more likely to shriek "Don't you DARE ..." than to
try on glacial civility of the sort that can be quite intimidating in, say,
negotiations between labor and management.
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Message 2: re: orthography and reading

Date: Wed, 26 Jun 91 15:12:07 CDT
From: stan kulikowski ii <STANKULI%UWF.bitnetRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: re: orthography and reading
mark seidenberg (and linguist readership),
 i was interested in your comments about orthography and reading in the
linguist list. i have been developing software for teachers to use in
evaluating student text in networks. although i have been mainly working on
measures of textual complexity in alphabetic writing systems, i have given a
little thought to how measurement should handle whole-word characters. i have
assumed that the difficulty of such text is directly based on the reading
experience of the reader with that char... perhaps indirectly measured by the
statistical frequency of the character in general text of that language. i
would not like to be the one who writes a program to do a logographic analysis
of any chinese char to estimate its general ease of processing.
 we have such whole-word chars in english too ($,#,%,& and so forth) and i
have been evaluating these as words without syllables. arabic numbers also
present nonsyllabic constructs-- reading and writing '435' is easier than 'four
hundred thirty five'. most algorithmic measures of text complexity (those that
do not use lookup tables of exceptional words) use some constructs like
words-per-sentence and syllables-per-word to derive estimates of readability. i
have been naively processing the whole-word chars as incrementing the word
counters without incrementing the syllable counters. i guess i will find out
about the usefulness of such assumptions when i have a large enough sample of
text read and written by known-age children from the networks.
 i would appreciate any further bibliographic reference you might give me on
research results in this area. it has been a while since i have done much what
could be called psycholinguistics. i did throw some crude realtime measures
into a reading task recently and got indication that some kids were switching
to different reading strategies as text complexity increased beyond their
apparent comprehension threshold, while other kids had a flatline reading rate
no matter what the level of text. i had assumed that the kids with hills and
valleys in their reading were multiple processing text on different levels at
input time while the flatliners were straight phonic-syllable reading with
comprehension either paralleled, delayed or decoupled from the serial process
of text input.
 i have just joined the linguist reading list so forgive me if all this seems
too simple to you. i will be looking into your archives soon. i would
appreciate any pointers, particulary references, you can give me. i have
become pretty much a network scholar, but i will dig into hardcopy when
i have to.
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Message 3: voice quality in tone languages; writing triple letters

Date: Wed, 26 Jun 91 11:32:37 CST
From: <huttardallas%utafll.uta.eduRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: voice quality in tone languages; writing triple letters
In response to recent queries:
(1) On voice quality in tone languages, try contacting William S.-Y. Wang
at UC Berkeley. Another possibility is Mary Beckman at Ohio State.
(2) On writing systems that use "triple letters": Saramaccan, a creole of
Suriname, writes 3 like vowels in a row in words like beie 'bread' and buzu
'blood'. (The acute accents indicate high tone; the other vowels are low
tone. The practical orthography does not mark tone in these words, so they
come out beee and buuu.)
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Message 4: Re: Bilingual Dialogues

Date: Sat, 29 Jun 1991 00:55:46 -0400
From: Ian Smith <IANSMITHVM1.YorkU.CA>
Subject: Re: Bilingual Dialogues
This is a reply to Kingsley Morse's query (24 jun 91) on bilingual
I am developing a corpus of Sourashtra/Tamil texts as part of a research
project on convergence and could send you half an hour's worth (about 100-150K)
The texts began as recorded Sourashtra conversations, which have been
transcribed and translated into Tamil. There are no English glosses. Most of
the conversations involve more than two people; a couple with only three
participants are available.
The texts are encoded with PC-Write, which doesn't have a large number of
control characters. There is, however, a considerable amount of
parenthetical remarks and other junk embedded in the text, but
you should be able to clean it up fairly easily.
Please contact me directly if you are interested.
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Message 5: Indirect object agreement

Date: Wed, 26 Jun 91 09:43:17 +1000
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: Indirect object agreement
There may be something useful (although I don't feel competent to make a
judgment) in Edith A. Moravcsik (1988), "Agreement and Markedness", in
_Agreement in Natural Language: approaches, theories, descriptions_ edited
by Michael Barlow and Charles A. Ferguson, CSLI, pp.89-106. The entire
work was reviewed in Canadian Journal of Linguistics 35 (1990), pp. 99-102.
Bert Peeters <>
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