LINGUIST List 2.502

Fri 13 Sep 1991

Disc: Linguistic Novels (Final Posting--REALLY!)

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  1. Larry Horn, Re: Linguistic novels, films/469
  2. Richard Coates, Re: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475
  3. John Coleman, RE: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475
  4. Fran Karttunen, Yet more
  5. Paul Saka, RE: ling novel

Message 1: Re: Linguistic novels, films/469

Date: Sun, 08 Sep 91 22:13:44 EDT
From: Larry Horn <LHORNYALEVM.YCC.Yale.Edu>
Subject: Re: Linguistic novels, films/469
In the matter of novelistic linguistics and vice versa, let me second the
recommendations of both of David Carkeet's novels and of Ian Watson's
Embedding. But let me add to our burgeoning bibliography "Oh's Profit", by
John Goulet (William Morrow, 1975). Granted, Goulet does not mention the
anguish of seeing one's work trashed in LI (unlike Carkeet), nor does he
construct an entire--fairly long, as I recall--novel around center embedding
(unlike Watson). But then neither Carkeet nor Watson has written a roman 'a
clef featuring Chomsky, albeit under the name of Leonard Sandground.
Sandground is the originator, in the late fifties, of the revolutionary
anti-empiricist theory of Genesis Grammar, who studied with one of the most
prestigious members of the old school (Z. Harris-->Babault, if you're curious)
and went on to vanquish the die-hard behaviorist Roethlisberger. But Sand-
ground's life work on innate ideas and mental categories are mortally
threatened by the progress made by
the eponymous hero of the novel, a signing gorilla. While the story is mostly
Oh's, we are treated along the way to the conference proceedings of the
Annual Conference for Linguistic Advancement at the Institute of Cortextual
Commitment in New Haven. [Not listed in my local phone book, but then this
WAS 15 years ago.] Participants at this meeting include such undisguised
names as D. D. Jakobovits, T. Trabasso, V. Yngve, and Gough. None of these
historical figures, you (and they) will be pleased to learn, is involved in
the allusions to interspecies hanky panky occurring toward the end of the
novel. The plot centers on whether the primary "Chimpist", a fellow named
Liebling but known to Oh primarily as "the Linguist", can show that an ape
has managed to storm "the beachhead of language" and thereby "subdue[d]
Grammar Beach". Of course, you'll have to read it yourselves to
discover whether.
 Larry Horn (LHORNYALEVM.bitnet)
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Message 2: Re: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475

Date: Mon, 9 Sep 91 09:17:33 +0100
From: Richard Coates <>
Subject: Re: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475
No-one seems to have mentioned the character Rubin in Solzhenitsyn's
The First Circle - a Germanic dialectologist who had never visited German-
speaking territory.
Richard Coates
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Message 3: RE: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475

Date: Mon, 9 Sep 91 10:32 BST
From: John Coleman <>
Subject: RE: Linguistics in Literature: Final Posting /2-475
Re: "Dictionary of the Khazars" by Milorad Pavic
Maybe I should have read both m. and f. versions, but I was loath
to buy two virtually identical copies of the same book. As a consequence,
maybe, I didn't greatly enjoy it. I thought the idea of two near-identical
versions was an elaborate marketting ploy to sell twice as many books.
If anyone has identified the lines which are different, how about telling
me: reproducing short quotations, I believe, does not violate copyright
laws. By the way, the novel is not in dictionary form, but, amongst other
things, involves a dictionary in its plot.
--- John Coleman
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Message 4: Yet more

Date: Mon, 9 Sep 1991 8:45:57 GMT-10:00
From: Fran Karttunen <kartunenuhccux.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu>
Subject: Yet more
To add to the long discussion of linguists in novels and movies:
It's been more years than I like to think about since I saw Ingmar Bergman's
movie "The Silence," but this is the plot as I recall:
Some Swedes are stranded for a weekend in a hotel in an unidentified but
obviously East European country where some sort of political turmoil has
broken out. Tanks are rolling through the streets, and a circus troupe
has taken refuge in the hotel too. The Swedish tourists' anxiety is
at an unbearable pitch, because they do not understand a word of the
language of the country they are in. They can't get any information
about what is happening and whether they should sit tight or try to flee.
If they had a tour group and some sort of interpreter/tour guide, they have
gotten separated and isolated. So they watch and try to guess what is
going on and get nordically depressed. At the end of the movie the
most enterprising of them, Ingrid Thulin as I recall, reveals that she
has made a word list and so has turned the key in the lock of silence.
Bergman had a lot of extras mill around in the streets and glare sullenly
at the tanks. He must have told them to mutter things in an unintelligible
tongue, so some of them took the obvious shortcut, and now and then you
overhear people exchanging the most trivial things in Finnish.
Fran Karttunen
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Message 5: RE: ling novel

Date: Mon, 9 Sep 91 16:00:36 -0700
From: Paul Saka <sakacogsci.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: RE: ling novel
	Someone on LINGUIST recently referred to a book
by the title of Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright.
	I thought that that sounded familiar, beyond the
familiarity of Wm Blake. It occurred to me this morning
that the above title is a variant and lesser-known title
of The Stars My Destination, by Alfred Bester (1956) --
a pyrotechnic science fiction novel by a real virtuoso.
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