LINGUIST List 2.71

Wednesday, 10 Mar 1991

Disc: Vowels, Families, Mother of

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Mark Turner, Arsenio Hall and Mother Of
  2. , Articles Solicited
  3. , Re: Queries: Families
  4. Adam Kilgarriff, Mother of
  5. Larry Gillick, Mother of
  6. Mark Turner, Arsenio Hall and Mother Of

Message 1: Arsenio Hall and Mother Of

Date: Tue, 12 Mar 91 18:46:30 EST
From: Mark Turner <marktumd5.umd.edu>
Subject: Arsenio Hall and Mother Of
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 91 10:12:00 CST
From: GA3662%SIUCVMB.BITNETCUNYVM.CUNY.EDU
Subject: Reduced vowels

To the person who asked about multiple vowel reduction (sorry,
when I'm sending I can't reference previous mail):
Dwight Bollinger 1986. Intonation and its parts. Stanford University
 Press.
argues that American English has *three* (count 'em) contrasting
reduced vowels:
 Willie {barred i}
 Willa {schwa}
 willow {barred o}

He gives lots of minimal triples (tory, tora, toro; sallied, salad,
sallowed etc.) I myself don't make the contrast between final barred
i and final /i/ but I gather lots do.
In addition, Russian has two *kinds* of reduced vowel, depending on
which syllable is involved. Thus Gorbachev has an {a} (low central)
in the first (unstressed syllable) and a schwa in the second. It also
reduces vowels differentially--/o,a/ reduce to the complex previously
mentioned, but /e/ reduces to {i}. This is an amateur description,
and I'm sure Slavicists could improve on it. Russian is a strongly
stress-timed language.
Hope this helps.
 Geoff Nathan <ga3662siucvmb>
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Message 2: Articles Solicited

Date: Mon, 11 Mar 91 22:07:42 EST
From: <Alexis_Manaster_RamerMTS.cc.Wayne.edu>
Subject: Articles Solicited
I would like to solicit submissions of articles by North American
linguists to the Soviet linguistics journal Voprosy Jazykoznanija,
whose editorial board has recently appointed me a representative
for this purpose. The submissions can be in English or Russian,
but the language of publication at present continues to be Russian
only. 

Please mail mss. to Alexis Manaster Ramer, Computer Science Dept.,
Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 48202.
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Message 3: Re: Queries: Families

Date: Tue, 12 Mar 91 18:04:45 EST
From: <jdbobaljATHENA.MIT.EDU>
Subject: Re: Queries: Families

I'm quite interested, but not overly well informed, but if you 
can recommend some reading on the subject... (English, French or Russian)..,
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Message 4: Mother of

Date: Mon, 11 Mar 91 15:51:24 GMT
From: Adam Kilgarriff <adamkcogs.sussex.ac.uk>
Subject: Mother of
Mark Turner's piece was very interesting. One aspect of `mother' allusions he
did not refer to but which must play a role in the catchiness of Saddam's
phrase is its use in `motherfucker' and derivatives. Calling a thing a
`mother' in American English is very often a display of anger and frustration
at it. The conceptual link with the mothers that bore us is attenuated, but
the surface-language link with Saddam's phrase is direct. A US soldier says
`this is a mother of a battle', while Saddam says `this will be the mother of
all battles'. The `motherfucker' association clearly plays a role in our
responses, throwing dollops of ambiguity, irony and general-purpose perversity
into the concoction of associations that Mark Turner documents. Perhaps it's
this twist that particularly appeals to the journalists, the politicians, and
all of our postmodern sensibilities?

Adam Kilgarriff
adamkcogs.susx.ac.uk
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Message 5: Mother of

Date: Thu 7 Mar 91 09:32:56-EST
From: Larry Gillick <DRAGONA.ISI.EDU>
Subject: Mother of
Mark Turner discusses the expansion of the expression "mother of X" from Radio
Baghdad's threat to embroil the forces of the anti-Iraq alliance in "the 
mother of all battles":

 > Of course, this phrase is not new at all....
 > The commonplace cultural concept of a mother has served for centuries
 > as a guide to using "mother" metaphorically in English....
 > "Mother of battles" relies on certain aspects of the concepts of mother....
 > [In summary: ] The mother of battles is pure of stock, more clearly a 
 > battle than any other.

Unfortunately, this expression did not arise out of centuries of English 
usage, but out of Arabic. As I understand it (and all I know is what I read 
in the papers -- I'm sure there are many reading this who can give us 
precision here), "the mother of battles" is an expression from Islamic 
history, perhaps from the Koran itself, referring to a specific, actual 
battle. The allusion is somewhat as though George Bush had spoken of 
Armageddon to his Biblically-educated constituency, except that the battle of 
Armageddon is prophesied to come rather than recorded to have occurred. 
(Thanks to Jed Roberts for the comparison.) 

Certainly Turner is examining the spread of this usage in an English-speaking 
environment, and the Arabic original probably uses similar metaphorical force 
to that which he finds in English "mother". Nevertheless, its separate and 
quite specific origin should not be glossed over. 
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Message 6: Arsenio Hall and Mother Of

Date: Tue, 12 Mar 91 18:46:30 EST
From: Mark Turner <marktumd5.umd.edu>
Subject: Arsenio Hall and Mother Of
Arsenio Hall tells a joke in which Saddam Hussein
now sells slurpies on a beach in Southern California
(my own homeland). He is asked what sizes they come in,
and responds "small, medium, large, and the 
mother of all slurpies."
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