LINGUIST List 2.547

Sat 21 Sep 1991

Misc: Conference, Games, Being

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Luc Moritz, WCCFL XI at UCLA
  2. Larry Gillick, Language games in Esperanto
  3. "Bruce E. Nevin", unbearable elision of being

Message 1: WCCFL XI at UCLA

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 91 14:50 PDT
Subject: WCCFL XI at UCLA
You are invited to submit abstracts for 20 minute papers to be presented at
the Eleventh West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL XI) which
will be held at UCLA, February 21-23, 1992. Papers representing all aspects
of formal linguistics will be considered.
Abstracts should be anonymous, no more than one page, single spaced, with
all margins at least one inch wide, and typed in 12 point type or larger.
An additional page with examples and references may be included. Submissions
are limited to 1 individual and/or 1 collective abstract per person. Ten
copies of the abstract along with a 3" by 5" card with paper title, name of
author(s), affiliation, address, phone number and e-mail address should be
sent to:
 WCCFL XI Abstract Committee
 UCLA Dept. of Linguistics
 405 Hilgard Avenue
 Los Angeles, CA 90024-1543
 Deadline for receipt of abstracts is November 30, 1991.
 Late abstracts will only be reviewed if postmarked by november 25, 1991.
 No abstract arriving after December 6, 1991 will be reviewed.
Conference schedule and further announcements will be issued later.
Inquiries may be addressed via e-mail to :
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Message 2: Language games in Esperanto

Date: Tue, 17 Sep 91 11:40:05 PDT
From: Larry Gillick <>
Subject: Language games in Esperanto
Here are two language games in Esperanto.
BAZEG' ESPERANT': Every open-class word in Esperanto (N, Adj, V,
and most Adv) is marked with a vowel-initial ending indicating its
category and inflection. E.g., all nominative plural nouns end in
-oj (the "j" is as in IPA, so this is like "oy"), all accusative
singular adjectives in -an, all past-tense verbs in -is, and all
derived adverbs in -e. Esperanto stress is uniformly penultimate,
which for these open-class words puts it on the syllable preceding
the ending. While one ending may be changed to another to change
category (e.g., "vetero" 'weather' yields "vetera"
'meteorological'), the ending may be dropped in only one, very
limited situation: In poetry the noun nominative singular ending
"-o" may be elided, leaving the stress on what is now the final
syllable, and indicating the elision in writing by an apostrophe:
In "Bazeg' Esperant'" ALL endings are dropped. The name means
'very basic Esperanto' ("bazega Esperanto", modified according to
the rule). An interesting grey area is the set of functors
ending in "-au" with a breve over the u [often ASCIIfied as "-
aux"; the nonsyllabic "short u" is used only in diphthongs].
This group includes adverbs (preskaux 'almost'), prepositions
(cxirkaux 'around'; "cx" ASCIIfies c-circumflex, a palato-
alveolar voiceless affricate like English "ch"), and others
(adiaux 'goodbye'). Unlike the productive endings, "-aux" does
not indicate a particular syntactic function and cannot be
replaced by a productive ending. In Bazeg' Esperant', as best I
remember, sometimes it is removed. Since the remaining "stem",
unlike the stem of an open-class word, is never heard in normal
Esperanto without the distinctive "ending", the effect is
especially striking and may bring an extra laugh to the game, as
when someone leaves the group with (final-stressed) "Adi'!"
I've heard this game played by many US Esperantists; I haven't
been active in the Esperanto community for a number of years, and
I have no idea whether it's still around, or whether it's used
beyond the US.
DIABLEZO: I think this game may be the invention of a particular
Northern California Esperantist, a friend whose name, alas!,
escapes me. The name could be translated as 'Devilspeak' or
"Diabolese". The rule is to spell and pronounce backward, but
precise memory fails me as to the scope of the rule: whether the
word stem as a whole, or each morpheme, or each non-inflectional
morpheme. In the examples I'll suppose the last. Since Esperanto
spelling is designedly a one-to-one map of the phonology, the
pronunciation is also reversed. There are none of the grapheme-
phoneme difficulties inherent in English spelling (e.g., "though"
to "hguoht"), but phonotactic violations abound. "Esperanto"
becomes "Repseanto" (phonology OK), "diablezo" -> "*lbaidezo", and
"Mi amas vin" ('I love you') -> "Im maas *ivn." ("Maas", in two
syllables, is phonologically OK.)
 Mark Mandel
 (regardless of Larry
 Gillick's name in the header)
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Message 3: unbearable elision of being

Date: Wed, 18 Sep 91 08:40:07 EDT
From: "Bruce E. Nevin" <>
Subject: unbearable elision of being
Phil Bralich <bralichuhccux.uhcc.Hawaii.Edu> writes in 2.534:
>Specifically, Susan Ervin-Tripp was wondering what would explain the lack
>of -ing in some examples of Harris. Two of the examples are repeated in (1).
>	 (1) Don't be the mommy. I am not being the mommy.
>	 Don't be horrid. I am not being horrid.
>In examples like this the lack of the word being is explained quite naturally
>by the use of the English tenses. An imperative cannot make a command with
>a progressive form of the verb simply because the progressive refers to
>actions in progress while the imperative seeks to initiate an action. Since
>the action the imperative is seeking to initiate is NOT in progress the pro-
>gressive form of the verb is not used. These sentence variations have nothing
>to do with adjectives.
The following is a common imperative in many dialects of English:
	Don't be swinging on that bannister!
The problem is rather with the use of the progressive with an adjective,
noun, or preposition which, because its sense is more durative relative
to that of verbs, (a) requires be to carry tense morphology and (b) yes,
is difficult to construe as progressing as opposed to not.
>a digression, but maybe an interesting one.
>(1) I don't want Susie to be the mommy. Every time Susie bes the mommy,
>she spanks us too much.
>(5) They always be the cowboys. They be'd the cowboys yesterday.
>My last example is from a real English folk-song. The speaker is a
>pregnant woman:
>(7) And if it bes a girl-child she'll stay at home with me
> And if it bes a boy, he will plough the dark blue sea
> He'll plough the dark blue sea as his daddy's done before...
All of the above sounds like the stative use of the copula in Black
English which, as I recall, derives directly from statives in Wolof and
other West African languages. This usage and others have spread to
non-Black kids' talk a lot in urban schools. Use in a "real English
folk song" I would take to be folk process influenced by Black English
in recent times. But perhaps someone can come up with bona fide
examples of English dialectal usage unlikely to be influenced through
the effect of American Black English on folk music and bohemian
>In some dialects, and perhaps historically, this regularly-inflected
>"be" can be used by adults to mean "turn out / eventuate to be".
>(6) Perhaps my [unborn] baby will be a girl.
This seems to me the ordinary use of be as tense-carrier with a noun.
The "turn out / eventuate" sense is carried with "will," no?
	Bruce Nevin
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