LINGUIST List 2.442

Mon 26 Aug 1991

Disc: Linguist Novels

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  1. Ralf Thiede, Doctor Syntax
  2. , Doctor Syntax

Message 1: Doctor Syntax

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 91 15:38:06 EST
Subject: Doctor Syntax
Tom Green recollected having come across an old book on "The Adventures
of Doctor Syntax" in a Boston bookstore. The other day, I discovered a
1911 Emerald Deldare hand-painted wall plate in the Charlotte, NC, Mint
Museum. It depicts an old geizer kneeling in his bed looking upset. The
inscription reads: "Doctor Syntax loses his wig. / The rats, its seems,
had play'd the rig / In tearing up the doctor's wig." Apparently, this
was executed after an original watercolor painting by Thomas Rolandson.
This Doctor Syntax, then, must have been quite popular at one time. Who
knows more about him? He isn't the Saint patron of LSA, is he...?
 Ralf Thiede
 UNCC Dept. of English
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Message 2: Doctor Syntax

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 91 13:07 PDT
From: <>
Subject: Doctor Syntax
RE: Linguistic novels by non-linguists
I can recommend several mysteries with linguistic themes by authors who
are not (at least well-known) linguists.
First, those by P. M. Carlson starring Maggie Ryan. I think Carlson's first
name may be Patricia and I suspect that one of these is the book remembered
by Helen Dry in a recent posting, though I could be wrong. Many have academic
backgrounds and mention linguistics; they take place in the late 60's or
early 70's; and there are many well-portrayed child characters, including
Ryan's daughter in later books. The most linguistic, I think, is Murder is
Next, those by Aaron Elkins (a physical anthropologist) starring forensic
anthropologist Gideon Oliver. I like these a lot except for the bizarre view
of academic life at the "University of Northern California". The Dark Place
concerns a long-hidden Indian tribe and their language (I don't want to
give too much away, but students of California languages will find this
amusing); Curses is about a dig at a Mayan site in the Yucatan and involves
deciphering hieroglyphics. "The polysynthetic Mayan characteristic of reliance
on verbal nouns has necessarily been transformed into our own grammar," says
a linguist character. Necessarily!!
Finally, those by Peter Dickinson. The best one I don't have, but it concerns
chimp language and is, I think, called The Poison Oracle. You might also like
The Glass-Sided Ants' Nest, which is about a strange type of anthropological
field work, though I don't think there's too much linguistics involved.
Does anyone know anything about David Carkeet's background?
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