LINGUIST List 2.610

Mon 07 Oct 1991

Misc: Washing, Whorf and Whenever

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. David E Newton, RE: Washing, etc
  2. AHARRIS - Alan Harris, re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.
  3. Pamela Munro, Re: 2.555 It needs washed
  4. Catrin Sian Rhys, Re: 2.596 Whenever
  5. Logical Language Group, Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals

Message 1: RE: Washing, etc

Date: Tue, 1 Oct 91 18:41 BST
From: David E Newton <>
Subject: RE: Washing, etc
To add a further dialect where the "washed"form is used, I heard the following
last night, from a speaker who comes from a village in Cumbria, England:
	[talking about a bubbling coffee machine] "Does that
	want turned off then?"
Cumbria, as some of you will know, is in NorthWest England. Interestingly,
as previously posted by Richard Ogden, this form does not occur in other
parts of this region (for example, Manchester, and also Liverpool, which
is where I come from). Cumbria is further North than either of these two
David E Newton
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Message 2: re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.

Date: Thu, 03 Oct 1991 07:17:42 EDT
From: AHARRIS - Alan Harris <vcspc005VAX.CSUN.EDU>
Subject: re: needs washing and anymore/SouthernCA.
I have heard "needs washing" and similar constructions in Southern CA and the
"anymore"=nowadays is quite frequent here anymore. . .
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Message 3: Re: 2.555 It needs washed

Date: Fri, 04 Oct 91 13:44 PDT
Subject: Re: 2.555 It needs washed
RE: Needs Washed and SWNY
In response to Susan Fischer's comment about "Southwestern New York", I'm from
the Hudson Valley and would never say "needs washed". I thought the thing about
New York was that it didn't have a southwest! Pam Munro
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Message 4: Re: 2.596 Whenever

Date: Tue, 01 Oct 91 15:05:53 BST
From: Catrin Sian Rhys <>
Subject: Re: 2.596 Whenever
The "whenever" for standard "when" is also common in some Scottish
dialects, eg. in Kirkcaldy, Fife.
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Message 5: Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals

Date: Wed, 2 Oct 91 00:43:27 -0400
From: Logical Language Group <>
Subject: Re: 2.603 Whorf and Plurals
>Subject: Whorf and linguistic relativism
Michael Kac says:
>On the basis of unsystematic observation and impressionistic
>judgements which are confirmed by all other linguists I've consulted, it
>would appear that the view that one's world view is determined by the
>language one speaks is nearly universally accepted by educated people
>who aren't linguists.
I'll concur, as well, and my primary interaction is with such people.
The exceptions to this are correlated with politics, with some people
(usually 'left') considering linguistic relativism to be racist.
However, even these people are inconsistent, since the arguments about
gender and pronouns/language-gender (including the recent one on
Linguist) inherently assume some form of language effect on world-view,
or it wouldn't make any difference. Note that the occasionally emotive
arguments in this latter discussion shows that even linguists may to
some extent assume what they claim they don't.
Factors in the continuing belief include:
a) what people mean by 'world view' and 'determined' is different.
Sapir-Whorf is generally understood to have strong and weak versions,
with the strongest form almost certainly false because translation IS
possible, and the weakest form true to the point of triteness.
b) the field of semiotics is heavily dependent on assuming linguistic
relativism, and most educated people are more exposed to literary
criticism than linguistic theory.
c) the continuing identification of political issues with the linguistic
relativity assumption. As such, people are continually exposed to the
assumption in daily life without it being explicitly identified as a
hidden assumption.
d) I believe certain areas of anthropological linguistics still accepts
Sapir-Whorf to some extent, especially where the researcher is in the
anthropology department rather than the linguistics dept. My source
of this is Reed Riner at U. of No. Arizona, but I think I heard
something similar from John Atkins who was at U. of Washington.
I've used the phrase 'linguistic relativity' because when actually
pinned down, many people will say that they aren't sure whether language
determines world-view or vice versa, but that there is obviously a
> I guess I don't find that particularly strange (a
>lot of my friends, however, consider ME extremely strange for being
>skeptical on this point);
The Loglan (artificial language) project has the goal (among others) of
testing the 'Sapir-Whorf hypothesis'. Those of us working on the
project, linguists or not, are assumed by many to 'believe in' the SWH,
though we are predominantly agnostic or skeptical like you. I think it
is again an unquestioning assumption that the concept holds, with little
analysis of the implications, that leads to this assumption.
>I DO find it somewhat odd that people who
>accept this view seem to think that it is (a) obviously correct, and (b)
>profound, a contradiction in terms. I welcome further data and
Again, I think people assume the concept to be obviously correct in some
'weak' form and also intuitively realize that it breaks down in some
stronger form.
The profundity is due to the never-ending political and philosophical
implications of the assumed-true concept. That the hypothesis isn't
even well stated means that none of the tests conducted in the 50s truly
settled the issue. Supporters of the hypothesis seem to think that
linguists abandoned the issue either because they could not prove it one
way or the other, or because the idea became unfashionable or even
non-P.C. with the rise of Chomsky's ideas.
If unambiguously true, the hypothesis itself is uninteresting. Until
the bounds of its truth are explored, the philosophical implications will
continue to be profound.
I think there is some considerable correlation in attitude on linguistic
relativity and language prescriptivism. In the latter area as well,
linguists tend to have a considerable disagreement with the
educated-populace-at-large, who consider it a truism that there is a
right way to speak and use a language and other usages are wrong. This
assumption is also considered 'obvious', and when its fallacies and
philosophical implications are pointed out, also considered profound.
lojbab = Bob LeChevalier, President, The Logical Language Group, Inc.
 2904 Beau Lane, Fairfax VA 22031-1303 USA
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