LINGUIST List 2.559

Wed 25 Sep 1991

Misc: Soviet language, warning, kilometer, etc.

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Directory

  1. Dan I. Slobin, Re: 2.536 Queries
  2. , 2.552 Responses: macs, needs, being, roles
  3. Laurie Bauer, Response: kilometer
  4. , Re: What else?
  5. bert peeters, 2.549 Warning

Message 1: Re: 2.536 Queries

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 20:41:10 -0700
From: Dan I. Slobin <slobincogsci.Berkeley.EDU>
Subject: Re: 2.536 Queries
Shortly after the October Revolution, Lenin proposed that all
Soviet citizens address each other with the formal "vy," on
the rationalization that all of the people had become the
owners and controllers of the society. He reported that he,
personally, had found it awkward to shift from "ty" to "vy"
in addressing old friends. I don't know how long this reform
was advocated, but it clearly did not catch on. (It is
interesting that a similar effort was made after the French
Revolution, but in the opposite direction. There it was
directed that all citizens address each other as "tu," since
the aristocracy had been established. That reform didn't
take hold either.)
Another direction of Soviet language reform was directed
towards the Turkic languages of the Caucasus and Central Asia.
Here the concern was with "perfecting" those languages by
bringing their syntax in line with Russian. For example,
special efforts were made to introduce relative pronouns
and postnominal relative clauses, in place of the indigenous
(and typologically consistent) preposed participial clauses.
It was argued--especially for journalism--that such "perfection"
of the languages would make for clearer writing. There were
also efforts to introduce gender distinctions for occupational
terms into these genderless languages. (And, of course, after
briefly replacing their Arabic script with Latin, all of these
languages were given Cyrillic writing systems--with intentional
incompatibilities between the versions of Cyrillic used in
each language.)
Dan Slobin (slobincogsci.berkeley.edu)
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Message 2: 2.552 Responses: macs, needs, being, roles

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 16:28:48 EDT
From: <elc9jprime.acc.Virginia.EDU>
Subject: 2.552 Responses: macs, needs, being, roles
With respect to "mouses" (computer) vs. "mice" (rodent). Note that
the plural of "walkman" is "walkmans", not "walkmen". On the other
hand, the plural of "workman" is "workmen". The irregular plurals seems
more closely tied to the original, literal meaning, whereas the newer,
more metaphorical meaning allows the more productive plural.
-Ellen Contini-Morava
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Message 3: Response: kilometer

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 1991 09:10:09 NZST
From: Laurie Bauer <bauerlmatai.vuw.ac.nz>
Subject: Response: kilometer
I always use _kilometer_ along with _controversy_ and _comparable_ as examples
of what can happen when two tendencies for linguistic change clash. Tendency 1
says put the stress on the antepenultimate syllable: 'anchovy for earlier
an'chovy. Tendency 2 says keep the morphology transparent: irre'vocable for
earlier ir'revocable.
Laurie Bauer
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Message 4: Re: What else?

Date: Mon, 23 Sep 91 18:59:22 BST
From: <WHEATLJSibm3090.computer-centre.birmingham.ac.uk>
Subject: Re: What else?
 Perhaps I take too strong a Hallidayan / Whorfian view of things
but if one doesn't start with the premise that differences are cultural
do we just suppose that languages differ by chance? Of curse it takes more
than a couple of signs to be convincing but with a larger corpus
I wuld have thought that cultural differenence was the first
hypothesis worth testing?
John Wheatley
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Message 5: 2.549 Warning

Date: Tue, 24 Sep 91 8:21:43 EST
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: 2.549 Warning
> Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1991 14:38:55 -0500
> From: Mimi Klaiman <klaimanux.acs.umn.edu>
> Subject: WARNING
>
> I agree with Christine Kamprath that it's dangerous to
> ascribe the differing content of German, French and other
> warning messages to cultural differences. Last time I
> rode the Calcutta subway--earlier this year--there were
> Hindi and Bengali language versions of a warning about
> leaning on the sliding exit/entrance doors. The Hindi
> one merely said leaning on the doors is forbidden, while
> the Bengali one more solicitously said that leaning on
> the doors is dangerous. I didn't ask anyone but I doubt
 *******************************
> it would have been unnatural had the Bengali one like the
> Hindi one simply forbidden people to lean on the doors.
I don't think Klaiman is the first one in the ongoing discussion
to make statements in favor of or against (in her case against)
the possibility of cultural differences reflected in everyday
warning signs without checking them out. I therefore repeat my
earlier
> WARNING: :-)
> It is AS DANGEROUS to ignore the possibility of cultural differences
> as it is to underwrite their existence unreservedly.
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 207813
GPO Box 252C Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
Hobart TAS 7001
Australia
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