LINGUIST List 2.464

Wed 04 Sep 1991

Disc: Linguistic novels, films, TV

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Directory

  1. Fan mail from some flounder?, Re: Linguistic Terms in Titles
  2. Robert Mathiesen, Re: Linguistics in Novels, Film... (Part 1
  3. , linguistic novels
  4. , Dr.Syntax
  5. Bill Poser, linguistics in film
  6. Nancy L. Dray, linguistics in TV shows

Message 1: Re: Linguistic Terms in Titles

Date: Tue, 3 Sep 1991 10:05 EST
From: Fan mail from some flounder? <SDFNCRritvax.isc.rit.edu>
Subject: Re: Linguistic Terms in Titles
With regard to movies with linguists in them, there is one other: "Chan is
Missing", which has a minilecture on sociolinguistics; supposedly the character
is based on Deborah Tannen.
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Message 2: Re: Linguistics in Novels, Film... (Part 1

Date: Tue, 03 Sep 91 10:31:10 EDT
From: Robert Mathiesen <SL500000brownvm.brown.edu>
Subject: Re: Linguistics in Novels, Film... (Part 1
My favorite novels with a linguist/anthropologist as protagonist are by
Janet Kagan: _Hellspark_ and _Uhura's Song_ (the latter a Star Trek item).
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Message 3: linguistic novels

Date: Mon, 02 Sep 91 12:14:36 CDT
From: <GA5123%SIUCVMBRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: linguistic novels
For whoever is compiling the list of novels involving linguistics, a title:
_Babel 17_.
I don't have other data on hand (author? date?). It's science fiction.
Lee Hartman, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, ga5123siucvmb.bitnet
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Message 4: Dr.Syntax

Date: Tue, 3 Sep 91 17:43
From: <EDMONDSONWH%VAX1.COMPUTER-CENTRE.BIRMINGHAM.AC.UKRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: Dr.Syntax
I just got back from a holiday in Cornwall, where I purchased a 2.5 inch to
the mile map for detailed information about the area I Was staying - right
down near the end - in St.Ives. I was intrigued to see that what appears
to be the promontary we refer to as LAND'S END is actually 'Dr. Syntax's Head',
or if not that one a minor bump next to it (but such bumps are not usually
referred to as '
heads' (whoops). Is this the same Dr. Syntax? Who was responsible for
naming the headland? Anyone got any ideas?
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Message 5: linguistics in film

Date: Tue, 3 Sep 91 12:28:14 -0700
From: Bill Poser <posercrystals.stanford.edu>
Subject: linguistics in film
As I recall, in the movie "The Iceman" they bring in "a linguist from MIT",
who turns out to be a crusty older woman who stares a lot at a device
labelled "Pitch-Stress Meter". She looked quite a lot like Judy Thompson,
an MIT philosopher. Phil Lieberman was listed in the credits as linguistic
consultant.
Bill Poser
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Message 6: linguistics in TV shows

Date: Tue, 3 Sep 91 17:44:39 CDT
From: Nancy L. Dray <dray%sapir.uchicago.eduRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: linguistics in TV shows
In re Jacques Guy's response to my note re TV mystery
with chimp/"cheetah" etc. :
Guy and others who have contacted me assume that the chimp
has not only been taught manual signs for "cheetah" and
"buzzard" (in ASL or some other manual language, or perhaps
in some system designed for the experiment) but also has been
exposed to the English words "cheetah" and "buzzard" (spoken)
in such a way that s/he could match the spoken words with the
manual signs. If this were the case, then, depending on such
things as the ability of chimps to discriminate among speech sounds
(something I know nothing about), the scenario might, as Guy
suggests, be plausible (or at least within the limits of what counts
as "plausible" on silly TV shows). I'm not surprised that linguists
have made this assumption, since it's necessary if the plot
is to stand a chance of making sense. But, as I recall, the show
did absolutely nothing to suggest that the chimp had been receiving
both signed and spoken stimuli. Thus, the misunderstanding I was
referring to would be the notion that if the chimp knows the manual
sign for, e.g., "cheetah" (or perhaps just the concept "cheetah"?)
then s/he will necessarily also have some awareness of the
corresponding spoken sign in English. So much for the arbitrariness
of the sign.
Also, isn't it just a bit odd that a chimp in captivity would be taught
signs for "cheetah" and "buzzard"? I found this unlikely,
though if I am wrong, I hope someone who does this kind
of work will enlighten me. When I saw the show, I wondered whether
the choice of "buzzard" and "cheetah" might even reflect an underlying
assumption that a chimp would have some sort of innate knowledge
of these concepts. (By the way, do chimps in the wild even deal with
buzzards and cheetahs, or is there some sort of "all wild animals are
the same" notion in here, as well?) Moreover, if, as above, the writers
assume that signs are nonarbitrary, then they might think that having
access to these concepts would enable the chimp to recognize the
corresponding linguistic signs in whatever language or modality,
if only the s/he tries hard enough. Perhaps now I'm stretching it--
and, in particular, presuming more thought on the part of the writers
than is probably justified--but I did find the choice of "cheetah" and
"buzzard" as words such a chimp would know rather comical.
Whew! It's alarming to think that I have now written so much about such
a silly show... (especially since I may well have misremembered it...)
------
re Malcolm Bradbury's "Rates of Exchange"--check out also
his parody travel guide, "Welcome to Slaka" (or "Why Come
to Slaka"?). Among other things, it includes a list of phrases for
for travelers to (fictitious) Slaka. Not nearly as funny as some of the
real guides it parodies, but very entertaining nonetheless.
NLD
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