LINGUIST List 2.59

Tuesday, 5 Mar 1991

Disc: Mother of, Wordperfect, Celticists, NLP

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Mark Turner, Mother Of
  2. Alida extn 4189, RE: Phonetics in Wordperfect
  3. , Celticists?
  4. Alexin Zoltan, NL Processing Companies in US?

Message 1: Mother Of

Date: Sat, 2 Mar 91 00:08:20 EST
From: Mark Turner <>
Subject: Mother Of

 "Mother of" is about to become a catch-phrase.
Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, a man not known for verbal
flair, reported to the American Legion that the mother of
all battles had become the mother of all retreats.
Radio Baghdad launched "mother of" as a threat. The White
House, hoping to humiliate Saddam Hussein, bounced it back
as a taunt. In between, this new verbal toy has saturated
American slang and American news. NBC anchor Tom Brokaw
observed that for Saddam, the mother of battles had become
the mother of corners. The Washington Post for 28 February
stated that the allied attack was the mother of all
maneuvers and that General Norman Schwarzkopf's magnificent
report to the press was the mother of all briefings. The
New York Times of 1 March carried on its Op-Ed page the 
"Mother of All Columns."

 Of course, this phrase is not new at all. These quips
from government and television give a fascinating
demonstration of how commonplace concepts provide the ground
for individual invention. The commonplace cultural concept
of a mother has served for centuries as a guide to using
"mother" metaphorically in English.

 In DEATH IS THE MOTHER OF BEAUTY (University of Chicago
Press), I examine the metaphoric use of "mother" and other
kinship terms. Prototypically, mothers bring new things
into being, hence "England is the mother of Parliaments,"
"Filth is the mother of stench," and "Solitude is the mother
of anxieties." Prototypically, a mother is a whole who
contains a part that separates off in dependent and
derivative fashion, hence "Latin is the mother of Italian,"
and the phrase "mother node" to describe in linguistics and
graph theory a state from which "daughter nodes" derive.
Derivative nodes must be "daughter" rather than "son" nodes
because they in turn can serve as "mother" nodes.

 "Mother of battles" relies on certain aspects of the
concept of mother. Prototypically, a mother is a locus of
great efficacy, great power: she has produced an awesome,
dramatic, and compelling situation before and is
prototypically thought to have the power to do it again. A
mother is therefore a force to be reckoned with. A mother
stands prototypically in a superior relation to her
offspring. Calling something a "mother" can signal a
comparison with other things that must be, by implication,
inferior on the scale, less daunting. In the common
cultural model of mother, a mother moved to attack in her
role as mother is particularly fierce. A mother is also an
ancestor. We have a commonplace notion that ancestors are
pure in stock. They pass traits down the generational line
that become diluted and adulterated with each step. Calling
a trout a "grand-daddy trout" when it is no older than your
average trout is a way of saying that it is a prototypical
trout, a real trout, that its position in the world of
trouts is at the top. The mother of battles is pure of
stock, more clearly a battle than any other.

 There is a system to imagination. At times, it seems
as if cultural difference is such a barrier as never to be
penetrated. But you would not think so to hear the phrases
exchanged in international conversation. Saddam Hussein,
Dick Cheney, and Tom Brokaw all think they know what a
mother is.

Mark Turner
Associate Professor
University of Maryland 20742. 
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Message 2: RE: Phonetics in Wordperfect

Date: Mon, 4 Mar 91 11:05 GMT
From: Alida extn 4189 <>
Subject: RE: Phonetics in Wordperfect

Please can you send a copy of this - the phonetic development - in
Wordperfect 5.1. Although we are primarily IT/IS in my department,
my research is in L2 and IT, and our Modern Languages people would be
very, very interested! They teach mainly French, German, Spanish,
Italian and Russian. They also use Wordperfect, luckily. And we have
the HP laserjet.

Well, I have just spoken to one of the Langs people, and he said a
copy of the international phonetic alphabet would be nice - we have
an MA student who wants to do their dissertation on phonetics, and 
there are plently of other people interested.

I assume we can copy your copy - there is such a hoo-ha about software
copying over here! ie we nnever know if we are within the law because
site licences, etc are misleading.

We use 3.5" floppy disks.

My academic address is :

Alida Bedford
School of Information Science
Portsmouth Polytechnic
Milton Site
Locksway Road
PO4 8Jf
Thank you - do you want comments once we have been using this? Please let
us know, and what you want to find out.

Bye Alida
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Message 3: Celticists?

Date: Mon, 04 Mar 91 07:42:01 CST
Subject: Celticists?
I am trying to introduce a friend of mine to the joys of e-mail.
Does anyone know if there is a Celticist newletter? It doesn't
have to be particularly linguistically oriented (he does ancient
Irish mythology). Any ideas would be appreciated.
 Geoff Nathan <ga3662SIUCVMB>
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Message 4: NL Processing Companies in US?

Date: Mon, 04 Mar 91 11:19:00
From: Alexin Zoltan <>
Subject: NL Processing Companies in US?

 4 March 1991.

To Whom it May Concern,

I should be glad if someone could help me with obtaining a (mail) list
of the major NL processing companies in the States.

Many thanks,

 Karoly Fabricz,

 JATE University, Szeged,
 H -6722 Hungary, Egyetem u. 2.
 Szeged, Egyetem u. 2.
 JATE University, H-6722
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